Review: Slow Hand by Victoria Vane

slow hand by victoria vaneFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: contemporary western romance
Series: Hot Cowboy Nights #1
Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: November 4, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

In rural Montana…
Wade Knowlton is a hardworking lawyer who’s torn between his small-town Montana law practice and a struggling family ranch. He’s on the brink of exhaustion from trying to save everybody and everything, when gorgeous Nicole Powell walks into his office. She’s a damsel in distress and the breath of fresh air he needs.

Even the lawyers wear boots…

Nicole Powell is a sassy Southern girl who has officially sworn off cowboys after a spate of bad seeds-until her father’s death sends her to Montana and into the arms of a man who seems too good to be true. Her instincts tell her to high tail it out of Montana, but she can’t resist a cowboy with a slow hand…

My Review:

When I first saw the title of this book, I flashed back to the Pointer Sisters song of the same title. And it totally fits. In the song, and in this book, the woman is looking for “somebody who will spend some time, not come and go in a heated rush.”

Although in the story, Nicole Powell isn’t even aware that she’s looking. She seems to have sworn off men, and especially cowboys, with plenty of good reasons. While Wade Knowlton isn’t exactly looking himself, he’s so much more than just a cowboy, and he has his own reasons for being gun-shy about a relationship.

They both need time and care to reach a point where they’re ready to have the real relationship that is sparked by their intense chemistry. Nicole is prettty sure she’s been down this road before, where the chemistry burns hot, and fizzles out fast. Unfortunately her attempts to date anyone without that spark just fizzle into nothing.

Wade hasn’t bothered with relationships, just associates with benefits, since his wife died and left the relationship with his brother in a mess of recriminations and guilt. His trust in women was burned away when he finally acknowledged how much everyone had been used. But his brother still hasn’t gotten over the wreck, or the loss of his rodeo career to an IED in Iraq. There’s plenty of wreckage to go around.

Including the family ranch. Wade has been pouring the money from his law practice into keeping the ranch afloat, but it’s only a stop gap. The financial hole is too big to be filled by full-time Dirk, part-time Wade, and their aging parents. Wade wants to sell, Dirk wants to hang on and try one more experiment.

Nicole finds herself in the middle of both their mess and hers, and doesn’t initially have the emotional wherewithal to deal well with either. She’s in small-town Montana to settle the estate of a father she barely remembers. She’s just hoping for closure, but gets way more than she bargained for on every side.

The story starts with a meet-cute in the Denver airport, and continues through some amazingly funny and ironic coincidences. Nicole loses her wallet on the plane, and Wade is the only person she knows within a thousand miles. Not that she really knows him, he’s just her dad’s lawyer.

But as Nicole works through her frustations of the Catch-22 involved in getting a new ID without any ID in the middle of rural Montana, she has the chance to get to know Wade and his family, and gets a glimpse of the man her dad became by exploring the place he called home.

She’s sure that when everything is finally settled, she’ll return to her life in Atlanta. No matter how empty and sterile that life might be, it’s hers and it’s all she has. Unless she gives in to the promise in Wade’s slow and slightly hesitant courtship.

They both just need to find a faith in each other that they’ve never found before. Something that won’t be easy for either of them.

Escape Rating A-: I think that if most of us inherited the kind of estate that Nicole does, we’d be out of our office jobs like a shot. One of the things that I liked about this story was that you really felt for Nicole, and that the author made Nicole’s reasons for not doing so understandable and sympathetic. She can change her life, but the life she’s built has been hard-won; it is difficult to take a leap into the emotional dark that way. It’s easy to see why she would be reluctant to make her life in a small town very far away from anyplace else, with no support network and only knowing one person initially.

She and Wade have the strong possibility of a relationship from the very beginning, but if things don’t work, well, it is a very small town. Combined with her romantic history, hesitance makes sense, and it takes a lot of work and growth on both their parts to get to their much deserved happy ending.

And I absolutely, totally loved it, to the stand up and cheer point, when Nicole tells her petty tyrant of a boss the equivalent of take this job and shove it.

Wade is a complex character. He became a lawyer because he wanted to get away from the ranch, and also becauses he wants to do some good in local politics. Whether that second ambition is even possible is a philosophical discussion and a story for another time, but he hasn’t managed to get away from the ranch. His family needs his labor and the money he pours in, but he’s finally tired of sticking not enough fingers in too many holes in that dike. It’s not just that guilt and obligation have kept him tied down, but also that he’s tired of setting aside what he wants for a cause that he feels is already lost.

Nicole becomes the catalyst for Wade to make a lot of changes. His presence in her life, and the reasons behind it, also make her re-examine the choices that she has made. They reach towards each other for that happy ending, and it’s great to see them earn it.

rough rider by victoria vaneOne of the most interesting side characters in Slow Hand is Wade’s brother Dirk and their mess of a relationship. Also the mess Dirk is making of his personal life. I can’t wait to see how the author gets Dirk out of his multi-year funk in Rough Rider.

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