(Hot Cowboy Nights, #2)
Genre: Contemporary Western Romance
Two wary hearts …
Janice Combes has two loves, bucking bulls and Dirk Knowlton. But Dirk only has eyes for a dazzling rodeo queen. How can Janice ever compete while mired ankle-deep in manure? Exchanging playful banter with Dirk is all Janice can expect-until the stormy night he knocks on her door dripping wet and needing a place to crash.
Dirk Knowlton is living the cowboy dream. Life should be good-roping, branding, backing broncs, riding bulls, but there’s a void he can’t seem to fill. After getting hung up by a bull, he wonders if this is really the life he wants. Restless and rebellious, he bolts…but there’s a certain cowgirl he can’t forget.
When a battle-scarred Dirk returns to his Montana ranch he’s determined to hang on at any cost. Janice has come back home to lick her own wounds. When old dreams turn to dust, can two wary hearts take another chance on love?
I loved this gritty, compelling and emotionally charged story. Victoria Vane always infuses her books with such realism and her characters with such emotional depth that they cease to be simply characters on the page and become people I really care about.
I didn’t really like Dirk in SLOW HAND. He was too surly and carrying a huge chip on his shoulder but, in ROUGH RIDER, Ms Vane rolls the clock back 10 years and we see a very different Dirk. At 22, he hasn’t really figured out what he wants to do with his life but bull-riding has taken the edge off the restlessness he feels but he knows he wants something more. He knows he isn’t ready to settle down although his girlfriend, Rachel, is pushing for it. His life is further complicated by the mixed feelings he has for Janice.
There was something about her that stirred him, but it was completely unlike what he’d felt for Rachel, leaving him damned confused.
When a young rodeo rider is tragically killed, Dirk finally makes a decision about his life and joins the marines serving in Afghanistan. However, he returns home to Twin Bridges a changed man, scarred both physically and emotionally. The Flying K family ranch is all he has left and he is determined to see it thrive again.
Janice was raised on the family ranch and worked full-time for her father taking care of the bucking bulls the family business supplied for the rodeo circuit. While her father never focuses on breeding his own bulls, Janice has dreams of one day ‘breeding the rankest bulls for the toughest cowboys.’ She had always put her family’s needs first at the expense of her own. They depended on her and she could never let them down.
Janice has carried a torch for Dirk since high school but knows that she can never compete with his beautiful girlfriend, Rachel Carson. Even when he shows an interest in her after breaking up with Rachel, Janice believes it’s only temporary and accepts a marriage proposal from Dirk’s friend, Grady, who has shown a definite interest in her. Now widowed and with ten year old son, Cody, she returns to her home town of Twin Bridges to care for her ailing mother.
Sometimes people make mistakes. Huge life altering mistakes.
I think all of us have made decisions in our lives which seem right at the time but later we come to regret. I know I have and so it was easy to relate to Dirk and Janice…their choices however misguided, the missed opportunities and the regrets. The intervening ten years have changed them both. Dirk is hard, wary and cynical and Janice has her own hidden emotional scars. I could feel the tension between them but also the unspoken desire.
But here she was sane or not, and he wanted her with a desire that penetrated his marrow. The same need shone in her eyes, the kind of deep physical, gut-wrenching need that he shared, and the only kind he could fulfil.
I loved Janice’s determination to break down Dirk’s defences and her refusal to back down. I understood Dirk’s fears that she would be revolted by the extent of his injuries and he needed someone like Janice who would love him without reservation. At times, Ms Vane kept me on tenterhooks, unsure that Janice and Dirk would ever have a happy ending, but this was what gripped me and kept me turning the pages.
The combination of raw sensuality and emotional intensity certainly puts a big H for HOT in the love scenes!
There was also an insight into the real reasons behind the feud between Dirk and his brother, Wade and I was happy when they were finally able to talk to each other and resolve their differences.
Ms Vane’s extensive research and attention to detail brought the rodeo scenes vividly to life…the sights, sounds, and danger.
If you enjoy Contemporary Western Romance with a compelling story, flawed characters, plenty of angst and steamy passion, then I can highly recommend this book.
REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: SCORCHING HOT!
Read January 2015
Hot Cowboy Nights series so far (click on cover for more details):
**I received a complimentary copy from the author via NetGalley in return for an honest review.**