Love Rat returns

Mount! by Jilly Cooper (Transworld, £20)

It can't have escaped the notice of Jilly Cooper fans that Rupert Campbell-Black is back! And they won't be disappointed. How could anyone not love a book where the animal characters get equal billing alongside the humans? The cast list at the front of Mount! runs to seventeen pages half of which are devoted to quadrupeds. The personalities of horses such as Peppy Koala, Safety Car, Master Swiftly, dog Forester and cat Purrpuss play as much of a part shaping the plot as the exploits of our smouldering lothario Rupert, his angelic wife Taggie and his arch nemeses Isa Lovell and Cosmo Ranaldini - Ms Cooper must have such fun coming up with these names.

This is the tenth in the series that began in 1985 with Riders and the story gallops along at a cracking pace as Rupert now approaching 60 and running a stud farm alongside his Penscombe training stables dashes around the world winning and losing major races and vast amounts of money in an attempt to win the title Global Leading Sire for his beloved stallion Love Rat.

Meanwhile at home things are starting to unravel. Sabotage and blackmail threaten the lives of the horses and the survival of the yard and Rupert's continued absences and passion for voluptuous stable girl Gala strain relations with Taggie. Will she be lured away by preposterously handsome Jan? Will Rupert come to his senses and save his marriage and his stud?

As you would expect from vintage Cooper, Mount! fizzes with sex as hormones ricochet round the stables and nearly everyone, horse and human, gets their leg over, more than once. There are parties galore, skulduggery in the shrubbery and between races everyone behaves as badly as possible.

In this large dose of escapism the women all wear silk, the men cashmere and if it's cold you put another dog on the bed to keep warm. Although plenty of bad threatens in a Cooper novel, real harm is always headed off at the pass, the baddies get their just deserts and the goodies retire to their corners for a shag until called upon to appear in the next book. It's as welcome at the end of a long day as a G&T or a glass of champagne.

#Mount #JillyCooper #TheBookThisBedtime #bookthisbedtime #RupertCampbellBlack

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