Handful of Sky
Handful of Sky by Tory Cates ended up being a nice surprise. When it comes to rodeo, I’m generally rooting for the animals, but Cates made me care about the people and get invested in the leads’ romance, so hats off to her for this one.
Shallie grew up in the rodeo world, and her big dream is to establish herself in the business. Her father and uncle were champion riders, and she now works with her uncle in the family business, contracting to supply local rodeos all over the west. It’s the early eighties and rodeo is clearly a pretty macho culture, so Shallie faces an uphill struggle to be taken seriously as a businesswoman. She perseveres by being calm and competent, without curl-tossing or being ‘feisty’, so I was rather fond of her from the beginning.
Shallie’s world turns upside down when she encounters a mysterious man at a small local rodeo. This rider is clearly head and shoulders above the rest in terms of skill, and eventually Shallie figures out that he is the legendary Hunt McIver. Following injuries and a series of disappointments on the circuit, Hunt is now riding incognito in small events to see if he can get his skills back.
It turns out that Hunt is the grandson of one of the big legends of rodeo. His wealthy grandfather runs one of the most prominent rodeo supply and promoting companies in the business. By comparison, Shallie and her uncle struggle to get by. When a request comes in for them to help Hunt’s grandfather fill a contract, it seems like a big break. And it is – but Hunt also wants to see Shallie again.
At first I was a bit wary because I was afraid Hunt would be a stereotypical overbearing hero. To my happy surprise, he wasn’t. He has his moments, but he listens to Shallie and he is just vulnerable enough that he generally comes across as strong without being domineering.
Since this is a Silhouette from way back in the day, the writing will probably feel a little dated to modern readers, but it’s not unbearably clunky by any means. And while eighties fashions, mustaches and chest hair abound, the book has far fewer cringeworthy old-school attitudes than others of this period I’ve read. There is some casual sexism thrown in there, but given the heroine’s personality, it very often gets countered and soundly disapproved of by the primary characters.
There are a few too many coincidences moving the plot forward, and the romance between Hunt and Shallie is plagued by a bit too much insecurity and wild jumps to conclusions on Shallie’s part, but overall I enjoyed the story. And since it’s rodeo, there’s a special horse thrown in there, of course. I probably wouldn’t read a steady diet of books like this, but I did enjoy this one.
Note: The copy I read of Handful of Sky was the original Silhouette Intimate Moments edition. The book has since been re-released as an ebook and it is my understanding that the text has been updated. This review covers the original only, as I have not read the current edition.
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I enjoy spending as much time as I can between the covers of a book, traveling through time and around the world. When I'm not having adventures with fictional characters, I'm an attorney in Virginia and I love just hanging out with my husband, little man, and the cat who rules our house.