Hilary James ('Mousie') is sixteen when she wins The Fuller Trophy jumping with her horse Dancer at the Royal Winter Fair. Her triumph is rewarded with an invitation to perform in England for Queen Elizabeth, but she has also attracted the unwanted attention of the evil Samuel Owens who plots to acquire Dancer for his niece, Sara.
Thwarted in his initial attempt to purchase the horse, Owens has his hired man, Chad Smith, try to steal it. Mousie has a dream in which a beautiful blond horsewoman warns her of impending danger. She wakes to discover Chad Smith, syringe in hand, in Dancer's stall. Chad Smith is killed in the ensuing scuffle and his employer comes under suspicion.
Dancer is flown to Highgrove, the country home of Prince Charles, and Mousie arrives with her mother Christine at 'Clusters' -- an English manor, once the home of Arabella, the second wife of the Duke of Dewbury, now both long dead. Mousie finds an antique lady's hunting whip which she feels certain must have belonged to Arabella, and later discovers a portrait of her riding side-saddle. It is the same woman who appeared in Mousie's dreams.
'Any lover of horses is bound to enjoy this book; others will enjoy it as well...'
'The writer discusses a wide variety of emotional issues: adults rekindling an old flame and falling in love, the first relationships of teenagers, emotions of both adults and youth surrounding the death of a parent and loved one, to facing down issues of abuse and alcoholism. ... Peterson's rich and vivid characters and her amazingly perceptive understandings of human emotions give Dancer the extra sparkle and magic it needs to stand out above most of the rest.'
'Peterson's prose becomes self-assured in equine action scenes: the fox hunt is excitingly described and jumping events benefit from her insider's eye for detail. It is Dancer itself, strong, proud, feisty and determined, that is by far the book's most interesting character, which, of course, is the highest recommendation it can have.'
'Peterson's prose becomes self-assured in equine action scenes: the fox hunt is excitingly described and jumping events benefit...'
'The story has everything in it but the kitchen sink. Besides the thrills of competitions, criminals and the extraordinary horse, there's a haunted riding whip, the benevolent ghost of Hilary's dead father, teenage romance, divorce, an alcoholic ex-wife and parental romance. As I read I kept shaking my head over the naive melodrama of it all, but I also kept reading, right to the end. This book is as ingenuous as the early Nancy Drew mysteries but, like them, it's also a real page turner.'