Cover of Take the Reins, the first novel in the series
|Original title||Sasha Silver|
|Cover artist||Monica Stevenson|
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster|
|Published||January 27, 2009|
Canterwood Crest is a series of novels by author Jessica Burkhart, premiering with the 2009 book Take the Reins. The series follows young student Sasha Silver as she enters Canterwood Crest Academy, an elite school housing highly competitive equestrian riders. While attending Canterwood, Sasha encounters a disparate collection of students, including the snobbish alpha rider, Heather Fox, and eventual love interest named Jacob. As events transpire, the team members attempt to work together amidst a slew of personality clashes and romantic conflicts. In the later books, the series switches focus to new characters Drew Adams and Lauren Towers.
Former Connecticut student Sasha Silver plans to join the school's equestrian team. However, she is met with resistance from three popular members known as the "Trio" (Heather, Julia, and Alison), who view her as a threat to their social status. Internal conflict sets the stage for the story, with the initial focus being Sasha's efforts to make the team and sustain her morale and good academics. In the midst of things, Jacob begins to earn her romantic attention. However, other romantic interests also enter the story, leading to love triangles and other personal matters.
Burkhart was inspired by a combination of equestrian experience during her youth and a fondness for writing as she grew older. After much of her freelance work was published by numerous magazines, she entered 2006's National Novel Writing Month and completed a first draft of Take the Reins. In January 2007, a literary agent offered to read the story after viewing the author's blog. Burkhart was later signed by the agent, which eventually led to a four-book deal with Simon & Schuster.
While promoting the first novel, Burkhart maintained an online presence throughout 2008, blogging and vlogging with regard to the production of her work and the publishing process. In April, the author reported that photoshoots for her covers had been set in motion. By September, Burkhart had received an advance reader copy of Take the Reins while working on the subsequent novels.
In December, it was announced that an additional four novels would gradually follow the fourth book, Triple Fault. Later in the month, an online video trailer for Take the Reins was released, featuring photos of scenery and the character models. Trailers for other releases followed.
Sasha Silver — a girl who comes to Canterwood Crest. Sasha used to ride at Briar Creek in Union. She has a horse named Charm. She is also obsessed with lip gloss. She is from a small town called Union and is usually teased about being from a small town by Heather Fox. Her roomie and BFF is Paige Parker. Sasha soon meets a boy named Jacob, who she has a huge crush on. That's how their relationship was started until they broke up at the Sweetheart Soiree in Chasing Blue (book two). After Heather Fox tormented and tried to break Sasha and Jacob up.
Callie Harper — Sasha's friend, who clicked with Sasha in book one. Before Callie started at Canterwood, she rode for the elite New England Saddle Club. She also has a horse named Black Jack. Later in the series, Sasha and Callie are no longer friends but only team-mates. She ended up missing out on a spot in YENT at first because of Jacob, who she had a relationship with. (Sasha's almost-boyfriend).
Heather Fox — A cruel teammate and friend, Heather Fox is not someone to be enemies with. She HATES Sasha at first, but begins to like her throughout the series. Leader of the clique called 'The Trio'. She has a horse named Aristocrat. She is very serious about riding and despises Jasmine King. She is a ring leader of trouble and plots plans to break Jacob and Sasha up in the beginning of the series.
Julia Myer — second member of 'The Trio'. Friendships come second to her, riding being the first. Her and Alison are somewhat "sidekicks" of Heather. She has a horse named Trix. Julia gets expelled from Canterwood Crest after creating a blog, in Scandals, Rumors, Lies after she was not picked for the YENT team.
Alison Robb — third member of 'The Trio'. She's very quiet, but she observes everyone and everything around her with great detail. Her and Julia are somewhat "sidekicks" of Heather. Alison is a lot kinder to Sasha and her friends than Julia. She has a horse named Sunstruck.
Jasmine King — a mean girl who Sasha and the Canterwood gang met one day at a show. She takes great delight in insulting students from Canterwood Crest. She has a horse named Phoenix. She will do anything to win, even putting her horse at risk.
Jacob Schwartz — a boy that Sasha meets at Canterwood Crest. She has a very big crush on him. he likes her and ends up sitting right next to her in Mr. Ramirez's class. He is afraid of horses. Jacob has an on-off relationship with Sasha, but in Unfriendly Competition, has a permanent relationship with Sasha.
Eric Rodriguez — another boy Sasha meets. They both become good friends, as Eric is a mid-year transfer student. Eric has a relationship with Sasha, but they break up in Little White Lies after he catches Jacob kissing Sasha in her dorm. They agree to still be friends and later in the series Eric help Jacob do something for Sasha. Eric is a rider, but doesn't own a horse, only riding a school one; Luna.
Paige Parker — Sasha's roommate, and former best friend. They both met in Take the Reins but their friendship got out of hand, and things did not end well with Sasha and Paige. Paige now lives with Geena in her dorm. Paige stars in a show called "Teen Cuisine" as she always baked goodies for Sasha.
Brit Chan — Sasha's roommate in Orchard Hall. She arrives in Elite Ambition and is called the new "IT" girl. She specializes in dressage, and clicks with Sasha in day one. She is a transfer student. She is also from a small town, like Sasha, which is why they click as friends so fast.
Lauren Towers - a straight-A student who works hard at everything. She loves decorating her dorm in soft colors and loves decor. Lauren has had an accident in the past, but nothing is going to stop her. She looks up to Sasha, and is best friends with Khloe, Lexa, Clare, Brielle and Ana. Her boyfriend is Drew Adams, and her ex-boyfriend is Taylor. She loves tea; her favorite kind being Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride from the Seasonal Collection. She owns a gray mare, Whisper. Whisper is a Hanoverian.
Khloe Kinsella — Lauren's friend, and a drama queen. She loves acting, and wants her name to be on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Khloe is loyal to her friends, and fierce and is the person to keep Lauren laughing. Khloe is Lauren's dorm room-mate. she also owns a horse named Ever, a Hanoverian Mare.
Lexa Reed - one of the sweetest girls on campus, Lexa is serious about riding but never gets competitive with her friends. She and Lauren share an addiction with Hob Nobs. Lexa previously lived in London. She owns a horse named Honor, a Strawberry Roan mare.
Clare Bryant — best friends with Khloe and Riley, and is often caught stuck-in-the-middle whenever Riley and Khloe are not getting along with each other. Which is all the time. She's a great mediator, and the kind of girl who's a true friend. She can never stand to be away from her gelding; Fuego.
Riley Edwards — Riley is enemy number one at Canterwood. She and Lauren have never gotten along. She is tough in the arena and lets everyone know she means business. Like Khloe she loves acting. The shared love of theater with Khloe causes some serious off-stage drama between Riley and Khloe. She owns her own horse named Adonis who is a gray gelding. who is really mean.
Taylor Frost — Lauren's ex-boyfriend from Yates Preparatory Academy in Union, Connecticut. He makes an unexpected appearance and makes someone mad.
Brielle Monaco — Lauren's best friend from Yates Preparatory School, and in Union. She makes an unexpected appearance at the unlikeliest place of all.
Carina Johansson — a transfer student from Sweden. She came over to CCA, to train with Mr. Conner in the foreign exchange program. She excels in dressage, but when Lauren and Khloe dig into Carina's past, they realize there is more than meets the eye. They become good friends when they bond over their love of horses and dressage.
- "JessicaBurkhart.com". jessicaburkhart.com. Retrieved December 27, 2008.
- "Jessica Burkhart interview". The Urban Muse. July 2007. Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2008.
- Jessica, Burkhart. "Jessica Burkhart Blog". jessicaburkhart.blogspot.com. Retrieved December 27, 2008.
- "Elite Ambition teaser trailer". jessicaburkhart.blogspot.com. August 23, 2010. Retrieved November 7, 2010.