Review: Nicholas by Emma Lang

nicholasReviewed by Janell

This is the fifth in a Western series about siblings on a ranch in Texas. I haven’t read any of the previous books, but I jumped in at the promise of a brooding cowboy. This book picked up right after the events of the previous book. I wasn’t exactly lost, because the author inserted summaries of past actions, but I definitely felt like I would have understood the main characters and their relationship better had I read the last book.

Nicholas is one of eight siblings on the Circle Eight ranch. He’s a middle child, and he broods. No, he whines. The book opens with the wedding of one of his sisters, and he is off at his thinking spot, feeling like his large family doesn’t understand him. He has a dark secret, and on page eleven he actually says, “nobody wants to be my friend.” He doesn’t say it like he’s a tough, dangerous loner warning someone, no, he says it like he’s the saddest boy in the world and he’ll just be over in his thinking spot eating worms. Even his younger brother, who had been kidnapped and abused for five years before being rescued, tells him to lighten up.

I don’t know how Nicholas was portrayed in the other books, but he was probably in the background being silent, or going off to do ranch work on his own. I don’t know if his dark secret was revealed earlier. Maybe if I had read the other books, I would have been anxious to learn more about this unhappy cowboy.

Nicholas met Winnie in the last book, when he comforted her after she’d been shot. Apparently, those moments that they spent together were life-changing, lightning-sparking, lust-inspiring moments. At the beginning of this book, they have feelings for each other based upon that experience, but they are nervous to see each other outside of those extreme circumstances. Again, I would have benefitted from reading that other book, because I missed out on their initial attraction and was dumped right into their dance of distant politeness.

Nicholas and Winnie take a road trip together back to Houston, during which they share some secrets. After hearing Winnie’s secret, Nicholas decides to go on a quest that will make her happy, telling himself that success will give his life meaning. It felt like a rushed decision to me, but it gave a plot to the remainder of the book. The quest itself was reasonably interesting, although its resolution required the help of three or four brothers so it was crowded and denied Nick a spotlight for heroism.

Now, forgive me for a little whimsy here. Just before I read this book, I’d read some joking on Twitter about retired Navy SEALs operating a cupcake store, where they would sell Red Velvet Steel cupcakes, because, you know, the manliness is often described as velvet-covered steel. This book mentioned velvet steel not once but twice! So I giggled.

Furthermore, Nicholas was endowed with “an impressive pair of testicles.” Winnie, for her part, “had a clean scent, along with the unmistakeable fragrance of grief,” proving that Nick’s olfactory senses were surprisingly astute. Also, the characters thought about throwing up at least seven times. Most of the time it was Winnie, although Nick seemed to have a lot of anxiety-induced nausea.

The quest-driven plot was interesting and moved along fairly well. The romance didn’t exactly work for me, though, but I’ll give the author the benefit of the doubt and say that prior books might have laid the groundwork that I was missing in this book. Their journey from attraction to sex to love was quick, and mostly driven by circumstance.

I would suggest that, if you like Westerns, pick up the first book in this series. Then, by the time you get to Nicholas, you’ll be more accepting of him. As a standalone romance, for me, it was just kind of meh.

Rating: C+

*ARC provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon

by Emma Lang
Release Date: February 12, 2014

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