I enjoyed this the second book in Victoria Vane’s ‘Hot Cowboy Nights’ series much more than that first. The first story was about younger brother Wade and after reading that one, I really wanted to read about Dirk Knowlton- the older, obstinate, battle scarred war veteran. If you read the first story you’ll remember Dirk and Janice Combes. Vane did something interesting with this one, it doesn’t pick up from the first book as a traditional book two might – instead we get to see Dirk and Janice’s story when it initially started, some 10 years prior and it works it’s way up to present. Although this can really be read as a stand alone from Wade’s story, there are some nuances with Dirk and Wade’s current relationship that would be explained by reading these stories in order.
I liked Janice when she appeared in book 1. She was nice and friendly and there was clearly something going on with her and Dirk; I didn’t know what it was, but now I do. There’s a lot. All her life, Janice has only known two things – she knows about bucking bulls and she’s in love with Dirk Knowlton. The bulls she knows about because she’s raised on a farm where that’s their highest commodity. The rodeo isn’t really her thing but the bucking bulls are and her family needs the money from their contract with the circuit to provide those bulls.
Dirk Knowlton and his friend Grady have been on the circuit for a while. It’s unfortunate for Janice, but Dirk’s still with his girlfriend, Rachel. Those two have been going out long enough that everyone expects marriage – everyone but Dirk who’s been questioning his purpose lately and now he’s getting restless.
On a night like any other night, Dirk goes to a party that’s being put on by Rachel’s father. After some drinking and childish behavior, he and Grady get kicked out of a perfectly good party and the dynamics of the Dirk/Janice friendship changes. I relish friends to lovers romances and this is a good one.
I enjoyed Janice a whole lot more that I did Dirk. I like that she didn’t take the easy way out; she didn’t take the ‘feel sorry for me’ or the buckle bunny approach. Her constitution was strong and I’m sure it was relatable to being born into and working on a ‘working’ ranch and being the only child. There was nothing that she wasn’t willing to stand up to, even when she didn’t want to. I liked getting to her know by her deeds.
Dirk took a long time to grow up. His treatment of Janice wasn’t always stellar especially in those first few years during their time in the rodeo. He didn’t treat her like crap either. It’s a terrible comparison, but it is what it is. After their first time together I expected more of him but he didn’t come through on his potential and he basically allowed his jerk of a friend to move in on Janice. I didn’t like that that because he knew Grady wasn’t good for sh*t and Janice didn’t have the knowledge or experience to deal with Grady’s shady behavior.
Interestingly, even though I didn’t care for Dirk all that much, I think the story was really good and kept me turning the pages. When things picked up in present time, I was captivated by Janice’s spunk and determination to handle her business. She certainly didn’t back down from Dirk and his crappy attitude. If anything, I think it spurred her on to get to his reasons for said attitude. If you’re a fan of cowboy stories and/or you’re a Victoria Vane fan, you’ll enjoy this one.
Happy Reading folks!
*ARC provided by publisher for review
Click to purchase: Amazon
by Victoria Vane
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca