Dawn LeFevre began working on the backstretch of Atlantic City Racecourse at the age of sixteen. After graduating from Cook College of Rutgers University with a B.S. in Animal Science, she spent the next thirteen years training and racing horses in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. She currently works as a contributor for www.PastTheWire.com and has been published in Equus, Weird NJ, the Pacific Coast Journal and The Press of Atlantic City.
She lives in South Jersey with her husband Mark, Australian Shepherd Domino and their cat Tribble.
What would you do if you never had the chance to say I’m sorry?
Nineteen-year-old Dahlia Leggett is a brilliant student but a lousy daughter. Her mother, pioneer female jockey Marilyn Matteo, was once the star of the local sports pages but their relationship is far from stellar. After a nasty confrontation with her headstrong mother, Dahlia vows never to set foot on the racetrack again.
Then Marilyn dies and Dahlia is left with only a guilty conscience, boxes of her mother’s memorabilia, and a cottage on her grandparents’ horse farm. When her grandparents take on a dangerous horse that responds only to her, Dahlia is pulled back into the life she tried so hard to escape. Before she knows it, Dahlia has a rag-tag stable of neurotic Thoroughbreds, a bulimic jockey, a party-girl BFF, and an unexpected romance with Steve, the sexy son of her nemesis - legendary trainer Bill Bassett. When Dahlia stumbles upon a forgotten videotape among Marilyn’s possessions, it threatens her precarious relationship with Steve but reveals a way that she can make amends to her mother. Can Dahlia achieve her mother’s dream without losing the man she loves?
5 Star Review
Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Dahlia loves animals, particularly horses. She grew up around them with her mother, Marilyn, being a star jockey. Marilyn had hoped Dahlia would follow her example and become a jockey, or at least a trainer. At nineteen, though, Dahlia was more interested in university grades and her goal of becoming a vet rather than the racetrack life that ruled her mother. Then she learns that her mother has died suddenly, and her grandparents are struggling to keep their horse farm afloat financially. A dangerous horse threatens not only Dahlia’s grandfather but also their ability to save the farm. Remarkably, Dahlia has a knack with horses, and she manages to do what others can’t - train this dangerous horse to race and maybe even win. Lured back to life on the track, Dahlia stumbles into one mystery after another while going through her mother’s things. And some of these mysteries threaten a growing romance between her and the son of a rival trainer. While Dahlia quickly establishes a reputation for training the untrainable, the plot continues to thicken, and the romance sizzles. But, she still can’t remember what she last said to her mother, a tragic family eclipse that haunts her daily.
Dawn LeFevre’s novel, Racetrack Rogues: One Woman’s Story of Family, Love, and Loss in the Horse Racing World, is a fast-action, powerful story that will engage horse-loving readers of all ages. The author has woven a plot full of horse racing, training, romance, family ties, and so much more. It’s a high-energy story that lures the reader right from the first page. The characters and situations are believable, and the author’s knowledge of horses and horse racing is obvious. The dialogue and narrative are well developed as both characters and settings are established, allowing the reader to feel instantly comfortable within the story, which is powerful and thrilling right to the very end.
by Dawn LeFevre
Print ISBN: 978-1-54398-431-6 | 347 pages
eBook ISBN: 978-1-54398-432-3
SPORTS & RECREATION / Equestrian
A rebellious ponygirl.
A jockey tested by tragedy.
A rejected racehorse.
A three million dollar race.
Teagan Sullivan is a golden disappointment in the show ring. To make matters worse, her family are big deal Olympic equestrians, so she skulks off to pony Thoroughbreds at a rundown racetrack. But while she excels at equine relations, she sucks at human ones—just ask her sexy blacksmith/sleepover buddy Screaming Wolf. And if she hadn't gone and rescued that stupid jockey wannabe Anne Simmons, she wouldn't be saddled with a new roommate, a broken down racehorse and a chance to prove herself to her family at last.
Born two months premature to an anorexic mother, Anne was a longshot just to survive. Now eighteen, she arrives on the backstretch with nothing but a duffel bag and Derby dreams. But the horsemen don't trust the naïve newcomer, so she's stuck ponying horses instead of riding races. She is still chasing their respect when a near-fatal accident shatters her body—and her spirit.
As Anne struggles to find the courage to ride again, Teagan wrestles with her feelings for Screaming Wolf. Horse racing's richest race, the Breeder's Cup Classic, offers them both a chance at redemption. Will Teagan and Anne conquer their fears in time to claim the things that they love most?
Cape May Magazine - Spring 2020 issue
A thoroughly engrossing read
Author Sara Kjeldsen rated it 5 Stars
Gripping read about the realities of horse racing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book about the realities of horse track racing life. I enjoyed reading about Anne, the brave protagonist who dreams of being a jockey. The relationship between Anne and her mother who struggles with anorexia is authentic and it really adds character to the story. The story also brings to life the dark side of racing and the dangers that surround it. I loved this book!
This is a great story with very well developed characters, both horse and human! You should read it
5 Star Review
Backstretch Girls: A Novel by Dawn LeFevre is a wonderful novel for sports fans, especially horse racing. They meet in the most dramatic of ways: "Two seconds later, the horse blew past and Teagan caught a glimpse of the rider’s face. No one she knew, just a young pretty girl, probably some jockey wannabe who landed at the stable gate with nothing but a headful of Derby dreams." They are two girls with two different, distinct backgrounds and personalities, but sharing the same dream. While Teagan Sullivan comes from a big family of Olympic equestrians to whom she has been a huge disappointment in the show ring, she craves one thing now: redemption. When she first meets Anne Simmons, Anne is riding one of the fiercest and most unforgiving horses. Teagan is there to save her from a devastating moment. Anne finds herself ponying horses instead of riding races while Teagan must work herself up to redeem herself for her past failures. A moment does come for the two girls to face their deepest fears. Will horse racing’s richest race, the Breeder’s Cup Classic, be their chance at redemption or another moment of humiliation?
This is a stellar novel. Brilliantly written, the plot is ingenious. The characters are exceptional and I fell in love with Teagan and Anne from the very moment I met them. I wanted to see how they would evolve in the story. Teagan is an experienced rider and it is interesting how her relationship with her roommate develops. The prose is excellent and the vividness in the descriptions gives it a cinematic quality that makes it enjoyable. The action is intense and the scenes are emotionally charged. The tension builds up steadily until the decisive moment, culminating in an explosive climax. Backstretch Girls: A Novel has strong and well-developed characters, a gripping plot, and a conflict that drives the story forward in powerful ways. Dawn LeFevre is a master entertainer, a writer who keeps it very real.
Available Interview Questions
1. Why did you write BACKSTRETCH GIRLS?
2. Who influenced your love of horses?
3. What are your favorite racetracks?
4. What is your racing background?
5. What do you think is the cause of horse racing’s decline in popularity?