So Tough to Tame
Harlequin HQN / September 24, 2013 / $7.99 print / digital
Charlie Allington is supposed to be on the fast track to the top—a small-town girl who was making it big in her career. Instead, she's reeling from a scandal that's pretty much burned all her bridges. Now, out of options, she needs a place to lick her wounds and figure out her future. True, working at a ski resort in rugged Jackson Hole, Wyoming, isn't her dream job. But if there's one perk to coming back, it's a certain sexy hometown boy who knows how to make a girl feel welcome.
Cowboy Walker Pearce never expected a grown-up Charlie to be temptation in tight jeans. She's smart and successful—way out of league for a man like him. But he's not about to let that, or his secrets, get in the way of their blazing-hot attraction. Yet when passion turns to something more, will the truth—about both of them—send her out of his life for good…or into his arms forever?
Victoria Dahl has rightly earned a reputation for writing steamy love scenes, but with her Jackson Hole series, I have come to appreciate her talent for creating characters dealing with both the absence of a fulfilling personal life and the death of a gratifying career.
And Charlie Allington and Walker Pearce have some serious storms to weather. Charlie torpedoed her own career with her gullibility and single-mindedness:
Because she’d lied a little. She hadn’t know her boss was married. He’d kept that a secret, separating his work and personal life with purposeful precision. Not so hard to do when you supervised nearly a hundred people at a giant resort. But she had known when she’d started flirting with her boss that it probably wouldn’t hurt for him to like her. When it had gotten more serious, when she’d slept with him . . . it had felt like a triumph in more than one way. So she had lied to Brad. Sleeping with her boss had probably contributed to her promotion and she’d thought there was no harm in that, because all that had mattered was she’d known she could do the job.
And Walker —well, let’s just say that he took the easy way out, and wasn’t thinking (at least with his brain):
“We never actually . . .” He shook his head. “I swear. It just . . . got out of control. And I don’t know if that’s why I was fired. No one should’ve known.”
“Your boss’s wife? Are you insane?”
He took off his hat then put it back on, shifting from foot to foot like a little kid caught in a lie. “It’s not something I thought about. It just happened.”
His flushed skin told her everything she needed to know. “Their marriage is dead. He cheats on her. I guess I told myself it wasn’t my responsibility.”
Both find it difficult to fight rumors and innuendoes and get back on track. Charlie is amazed that even her brother seems to think the worst of her:
“Odd like she’s watching me every second. She seems paranoid that I’m going to do something that will ruin her life.”
He shrugged again. “Seems logical,” he said past a mouthful of beef.
“What the hell? What do you mean it seems logical?”
You helped your last employer embezzle money, right?”
Her jaw dropped. . . She couldn’t believe this. Not from her own brother. “Are you kidding me, Brad? Is that what you think? I didn’t do anything wrong. I was cleared in pretrial, for God’s sake.”
“Yeah, I get that. But everyone knows you turned a blind eye.”
“I did not! Maybe I trusted the wrong people. Fine. I was an idiot. But I didn’t do anything to help them, and I didn’t ignore anything!”
Brad rolled his eyes. “Fine, I apologize, but you still can’t blame Dawn for keeping a close eye.”
“Oh, I can’t?”
“You were screwing your married boss, right? And her husband is now your boss. Do you two get along?”
Charlie had been shocked at Dawn’s animosity and paranoia, but these casual swipes from her brother nearly knocked her off her chair.
And Walker — well he has some regrets:
“Charlie, I didn’t even see her at the ranch last night, much less do anything I shouldn’t have. As a matter of fact, I was alone with her a week ago and I stopped it. I told her it was over.”
She nodded, but she stared down at her hands. “But a married woman, Walker?”
"I know. I ‘m sorry. I’ m ashamed of it. Ashamed that people think there’s more to it. That’s a damn good learning tool. If you don’t want people to know it’s something you shouldn’t be doing in the first place.”
Of course Ms. Dahl then shows the reader that though perseverance and determination, a bit of soul searching, and of course the right person—a person who provides encouragement and support—all storms can be weathered.
“God, Charlie. What do you want from me? You were my tutor. You know exactly how dumb I am. No! Wait!” He tried to keep ahold of her thighs, but she slipped off his lap and eased her skirt down.
“You listen to me.” Instead of reaching for his zipper, she pointed at his face.
He thought he might weep. “You’re a good man. You’re smart and sweet and wonderful with people. So don’t you take some job in the middle of nowhere if it won’t make you happy. Don’t do that!”
Now I know that those scenes must have attracted your attention. But in case you need more, there is plenty to savor:
She finally leaned back a little to look up at him. “I want to savor you, Walker. Don’t you think you deserve to be savored?”
“I . . . No? or maybe. I don’t know what you mean?”
“Come on.” She tugged him toward his door. “I’ve waited a long time for this. I don’t want it all over in just a few minutes.”
“Hey, that’s not how it’ll be.”
She giggled and grabbed his hat off the floor.
In So Tough to Tame, Victoria Dahl brings steamy sex scenes and powerful emotion.
Learn more or pre-order a copy of So Tough to Tame by Victoria Dahl before its release (September 24, 2013):
Leigh Davis, Blogger