Source: publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: contemporary romance, western romance
Series: Hot Cowboy Nights #4
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on June 7th 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository
Award-winning author Victoria Vane lets loose the fourth in the Hot Cowboy Nights series
WILD HORSES COULDN'T BRING THEM TOGETHER...With exceptional talent and looks, cowboy "horse whisperer" Keith Russo once had the world at his feet - until his career was unwittingly destroyed by an aspiring filmmaker. After being rejected by his family for exploiting his Native American heritage, Keith has no choice but to turn back to his humble beginnings as a wild horse wrangler.
BUT MAYBE THEIR PASSION CAN...Miranda Sutton always dreamed of making films, until wild mustangs captured her heart. But turning her grandmother's Montana ranch into a wild horse sanctuary proves harder than she thought. She needs someone who knows wild horses. Keith and the mustangs need each other. And while working together to save the herd, Keith and Miranda discover a passion as wild as the mustangs they love.
Praise for Slow Hand "Scorching...witty...a red-hot cowboy tale...their sexual chemistry crackles." -Publishers Weekly
Saddle Up, just like a book I reviewed a few weeks ago (Doing It Over by Catherine Bybee) is also a meditation on two different literary visions of “home”. For Keith Russo, home is the Thomas Wolfe version, “You can’t go home again.” For Miranda Sutton, it’s the Robert Frost version, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”
But of course it isn’t nearly as simple as that.
Keith and Miranda first meet a year before the story really begins. At that point, Keith is on top of the world, and Miranda is a lowly and very much put upon intern in Hollywood. Keith, marketing himself as ‘Two Wolves’, is a celebrity horse trainer. Miranda is finishing up her degree in cinematography while interning with an absolute bitch of a film producer. As is not atypical during internships of all types, Miranda does most of the work, and Bibi takes ALL of the credit.
But the filming where they meet Keith is one where Miranda should be glad that Bibi takes all the credit, and gets all the blame for what it does to Keith’s life. When Keith turns down Bibi’s persistent sexual advances, she exposes him as a fraud, using Miranda’s not quite thorough enough research to back up her claims.
Keith’s life in the fast-lane is over, and he and his ignominy go back to the reservation to hide. And to work out his guilt at selling out his heritage for a fast buck. In spite of Miranda’s research, Keith really is half Native American. His paperwork doesn’t show it because his mother tried to pretend that her brief affair with his activist father never happened. But his father’s parents claim him as their own, no matter how unhappy they might be with him at any given moment. Often very.
When they meet again, Keith is at the bottom, and Miranda is on the upswing – even though that upswing is a bit precarious.
No longer an intern, Miranda is now working for Bibi, and doing projects on the side and in secret. Bibi is still a bitch. Keith is part of a wild mustang gather in Wyoming, and Miranda comes to film the project in the hopes of making a documentary. They still have lots of chemistry together, along with a whole lot of mistrust.
In spite of Bibi taking the credit, Keith still blames Miranda for a whole chunk of his problems. Miranda just wants to save the horses. She isn’t sure whether she wants to explore their explosive chemistry – especially when Keith pushes her away in one minute and pulls her in closer the next.
Neither of them is sure what they want to do – not with the horses and certainly not with each other.
While Keith continues drifting around what he wants to do with his life, Miranda takes charge of hers. She leaves behind the Hollywood that has never fit her and goes back home to her grandmother’s ranch, determined to make a go of the place by providing sanctuary for as many wild mustangs as the place can hold.
And a life of purpose for her and for Keith, if he’s willing to accept everything she offers. If he can let himself.
Escape Rating B+: Miranda and Keith are two people who only meet by chance, and probably shouldn’t have much in common. They just have a hell of a lot of combustible chemistry, and an unshakable love for the mustangs that power this story at a gallop.
And even though this is the fourth book in the Hot Cowboy Nights series, it also stands completely alone. (As someone who has read the whole series, I’ll confess to not even being certain where this story falls in the timeline. It seems as if the romance in Slow Hand hasn’t happened yet.)
One thing that Miranda and Keith do both have in common – both of them have found their homes of the heart with their grandparents. Miranda’s parents are dead, and Keith’s want nothing to do with him. It’s their grandparents that give them each sanctuary and a sense of belonging.
But Keith’s grandparents know that Keith’s real home is not with them. He’s straddled two worlds all of his life, even if he didn’t always know it. While his grandparents love him dearly, they both see him as meant for a place that both sides of his heritage can call home.
Miranda goes back to her grandmother’s ranch, because it’s the one place where she receives unconditional support. She is rethinking her whole life, and her grandmother Jo-Jo provides just the right amount of hard work and tough love for Miranda to work through her issues. And Miranda is happy to give back to the woman who has always helped her. Jo-Jo is in her early 70s, and now a widow. The ranch is too big for her to run alone, but she doesn’t want to leave her home. Together they can make it work – if Keith is willing to help.
This is also a sex-into-love romance. Miranda and Keith have hot chemistry from the beginning, but she doesn’t want to be just another notch on his metaphorical bedpost, and he doesn’t think he’s capable of forming a real relationship. Of course they are both wrong.
There’s no villain here, although Miranda’s aunt and uncle make a brief attempt at filling that role. This romance is all about Miranda and Keith finding their way towards each other, with a whole lot of pushing from a herd of wild mustangs. Not that there isn’t an equally big herd running in Keith’s head, pulling them apart. The “come here go away” that Keith emotionally pulls on Miranda drives both her and the reader just a bit batty – with good reason.
The horses steal the show, and the reader’s heart. (Mine was already gone at the beginning, with the utterly marvelous shout-out to Romancing the Stone!)
~~~~~~ TOURWIDE GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~
As part of the tour, Victoria is giving away a Texas West handbag and wallet set.