Sounds like you're concerned because of your experience with the Nordica tempest. I haven't skied it but from the description it sounds like a much more groomer-oriented ski than what you're looking for, and a ski that you would ski in a shorter length than a more off-piste oriented ski. So the fact that you didn't like that ski in 170 doesn't mean that an off piste 170 would be too long.
A stiffer ski is harder to turn at slow speed than a softer ski, but a softer ski is harder to handle at higher speed, on firm snow, etc, so which is more demanding depends. Don't get too fixated on length-it's just part of the picture. Remember that the same world cup racer might ski anything from a 165 in slalom to a 215 in downhill. Also, your weight is more important than your height--it's the weight (and your strength) that bends the ski and makes it turn.
The Kabookie sounds interesting--a softer version of the Bonafide--but it's a new ski for next year so forget about an early season discount. Another ski to add to your list would be the K2 Hardside.
Buying skis without demoing is really hard--you can't trust salespeople--they may or may not know the skis, they definitely don't know you, and they want to move what they want to move. Same applies to people on the web, except for the last part. And definitely don't buy a ski just because it's a great deal.You can't demo every manufacturer. Every manufacturer makes a ski in every niche. Pick a local shop you like, pick a few brands they carry and try one or two. If you don't like the ski you can tell the sales person what you didn't like about it and they can then guide you in the right direction--different model, different length. If you're determined to buy without demoing you might have a look right now--you might have a better shot now than in the fall. I've been glancing in the shops here in Tahoe lately and despite the poor snow for most of the season the popular models are sold out.
The best advice I ever got about buying skis is that when you demo them, you should say "wow". If they aren't obviously an improvement over what you're on now, don't buy them. I've skied on more bad skis than I can remember, trying to save money, or because somebody suggested them. Since I started demoing every ski I've bought has been great, and better than the last one.
Another option, if you're not going to demo, is craigslist. A recent model used pair of skis in good condition should sell for half of the going retail price. At your level you would want bindings included (and they would need to be appropriate for your boot size, height and weight, etc.) And you would want a recent model that you can research. If you were to go that route you'd probably best go looking with someone experienced who will be able to spot problems.
Sooner or later you're going to want to have more than one pair. At that point it is crucial that you explain to your wife that if you have three pairs, each pair will last 3 times as long, so in the end you'll wind up owning the same number of skis as if you bought them one at a time and skied them until they were trashed. (Unfortunately I've found that that argument doesn't work for guitars.)