Friday, February 6, 2015

Rough Rider by Victoria Vane

The Basics:
Rough Rider by Victoria Vane
Sourcebooks Casablanca
Book Two in the Hot Cowboy Nights series
Contemporary Romance
Published February 3, 2015
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Amazon Kobo Goodreads

Why I picked up this book:

I have this not-so-secret love for rodeos. When I was in my early twenties, I'd watch them - mostly bullriding and roping events - late at night when I should have been sleeping. Rough Rider hit that sweet spot for me.

Two loves ...
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.

Different Dreams...
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?
My thoughts:

I'm going to be up front - I did not like Rough Rider. This book has a good rating on Goodreads right now - 4.19 - so clearly there's an audience out there for it.  I did not read the first book in the series, so it's possible that would have also influenced my enjoyment of Rough Rider.

The main reasons I didn't like this book are that it has a very slow start and I found it to be pretty depressing for at least the first half. The book spans ten years, starting with a point in time when Dirk finally (from her perspective) sees Janice as a woman, breezing through several years of hardship and heartache for them both and landing us at a point in time when they've both come back to their hometown to lick their wounds and start anew. This all felt like set-up to me, for the romance to really start at the ten year mark - which is the point teased in the blurb. I was impatient for the upswing in the relationship (and their lives) and that made that first part of the book really crawl.

I also found all of the set-up to be rather depressing. Yes, there are a few highlight moments, but there's so many bad/wrong choices, and then simply awful things that happen because that's what life is like.... I don't mind tragedy in my romance, but I really need to feel that thread of romance to get me through it. For me, reading is usually an escape and this just... this wasn't a place I wanted to escape to. Now, if you like your romances to be as difficult and gritty as they are in reality? This might be your cup of tea!

Dirk and Janice are both awesome and both flawed. I liked these characters, and particularly Janice's attitude as she seeks to rebuild her life. The way they speak, their work ethics and sensibilities, the way they view the world all felt very appropriate and authentic. I thought they were a good match - I just wish that the book had focused a little more on the current romance instead of devoting so much time to the past.

I was, at least, satisfied about the bull-riding. Though it didn't figure into the entire story, there was some great behind the scenes material that made me feel really immersed in this world.

Bottom line:

Rough Rider was simply not for me. I found the set-up to be too extensive and depressing for my tastes and would have DNF'ed the book at 150 pages if I hadn't been determined to finish it so I could write a complete review. The ending was reasonably satisfying - so if you don't mind all that darkness at the start, you might really like this one!

2.5 stars
For fans of cowboys, second chance love stories

But don't just take my word for it! I grabbed a few links to other blog reviews of Rough Rider - particularly some positive ones for balance:

My Book Addiction Reviews

Bitten by Romance

Fresh Fiction for Today's Readers

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