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Tough to Tame (Long, Tall Texans Book 35) [Kindle Edition]

Diana Palmer
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A spellbinding new installment in the Long, Tall Texan series!

New York Times bestselling author Diana Palmer welcomes you back to Jacobsville to become reacquainted with Bentley Rydel. He lives hard and loves fiercely—but sometimes it takes the right woman to make a man a hero. This rugged Texan is going to be Tough to Tame!

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Diana Palmer is renowned as one of North America’s top ten romance writers. When she published her first novel in 1979, fans immediately fell in love with her sensual, charming romances. A die-hard romantic who married her husband five days after they met, Diana says that she wrote her first book at age thirteen—and has been hooked ever since. Diana’s hobbies include gardening, knitting, quilting, anthropology, astronomy and music.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Cappie Drake peered around a corner inside the veterinary practice where she worked, her soft gray eyes wide with apprehension. She was looking for the boss, Dr. Bentley Rydel. Just lately, he'd been on the warpath, and she'd been the target for most of the sarcasm and harassment. She was the newest employee in the practice. Her predecessor, Antonia, had resigned and run for the hills last month.

"He's gone to lunch," came an amused whisper from behind her.

Cappie jumped. Her colleague, Keely Welsh Sinclair, was grinning at her. The younger woman, nineteen to Cappie's twenty-three, was only recently married to dishy Boone Sinclair, but she'd kept her job at the veterinary clinic despite her lavish new lifestyle. She loved animals.

So did Cappie. But she'd been wondering if love of animals was enough to put up with Bentley Rydel.

"I lost the packing slip for the heartworm medicine," Cappie said with a grimace. "I know it's here somewhere, but he was yelling and I got flustered and couldn't find it. He said terrible things to me."

"It's autumn," Keely said.

Cappie frowned. "Excuse me?"

"It's autumn," she repeated.

The older woman was staring blankly at her.

Keely shrugged. "Every autumn, Dr. Rydel gets even more short-tempered than usual and he goes missing for a week. He doesn't leave a telephone number in case of emergencies, he doesn't call here and nobody knows where he is. When he comes back, he never says where he's been."

"He's been like this since I was hired," Cappie pointed out. "And I'm the fifth new vet tech this year, Dr. King said so. Dr. Rydel ran the others off."

"You have to yell back, or just smile when he gets wound up," Keely said in a kindly tone.

Cappie grimaced. "I never yell at anybody."

"This is a good time to learn. In fact…"

"Where the hell is my damned raincoat?!"

Cappie's face was a study in horror. "You said he went to lunch!"

"Obviously he came back," Keely replied, wincing, as the boss stormed into the waiting room where two shocked old ladies were sitting beside cat carriers.

Dr. Bentley Rydel was tall, over six feet, with pale blue eyes that took on the gleam of steel when he was angry. He had jet-black hair, thick and usually untidy because he ran his fingers through it in times of frustration. His feet were large, like his hands. His nose had been broken at some point, which only gave his angular face more character. He wasn't conventionally handsome, but women found him very attractive. He didn't find them attractive. If there was a more notorious woman hater than Bentley Rydel in all of Jacobs County, Texas, it would be hard to find him.

"My raincoat?" he repeated, glaring at Cappie as if it were her fault that he'd left without it.

Cappie drew herself up to her full height—the top of her head barely came to Bentley's shoulder—and took a deep breath. "Sir," she said smartly, "your raincoat is in the closet where you left it."

His dark eyebrows rose half a foot.

Cappie cleared her throat and shook her head as if to clear it. The motion dislodged her precariously placed barrette. Her long, thick blond hair shook free of it, swirling around her shoulders like a curtain of silk.

While she was debating her next, and possibly job-ending, comment, Bentley was staring at her hair. She always wore it on top of her head in that stupid ponytail. He hadn't realized it was so long. His pale eyes narrowed as he studied it.

Keely, fascinated, managed not to stare. She turned to the old ladies watching, spellbound. "Mrs. Ross, if you'll bring—" she looked at her clipboard "—Luvvy the cat on back, we'll see about her shots."

Mrs. Ross, a tiny little woman, smiled and pulled her rolling cat carrier along with her, casting a wistful eye back at the tableau she was reluctantly foregoing.

"Dr. Rydel?" Cappie prompted, because he was really staring.

He scowled suddenly and blinked. "It's raining," he said shortly.

"Sir, that is not my fault," she returned. "I do not control the weather."

"A likely story," he huffed. He turned on his heel, went to the closet, jerked his coat out, displacing everybody else's, and stormed out the door into the pouring rain.

"And I hope you melt!" Cappie muttered under her breath.

"I heard that!" Bentley Rydel called without looking back.

Cappie flushed and moved back behind the counter, trying not to meet Gladys Hawkins's eyes, because the old lady was almost crying, she was laughing so hard.

"There, there," Dr. King, the long-married senior veterinarian, said with a gentle smile. She patted Cappie on the shoulder. "You've done well. By the time she'd been here a month, Antonia was crying in the bathroom at least twice a day, and she never talked back to Dr. Rydel."

"I've never worked in such a place," Cappie said blankly. "I mean, most veterinarians are like you—they're nice and professional, and they don't yell at the staff. And, of course, the staff doesn't yell…"

"Yes, they do," Keely piped in, chuckling. "My husband made the remark that I was a glorified groomer, and the next time he came in here, our groomer gave him an earful about just what a groomer does." She grinned. "Opened his eyes."

"They do a lot more than clip fur," Dr. King agreed. "They're our eyes and ears in between exams. Many times, our groomers have saved lives by noticing some small problem that could have turned fatal."

"Your husband is a dish," Cappie told Keely shyly.

Keely laughed. "Yes, he is, but he's opinionated, hardheaded and temperamental with it."

"He was a tough one to tame, I'll bet," Dr. King mused.

Keely leaned forward. "Not half as tough as Dr. Rydel is going to be."

"Amen. I pity the poor woman who takes him on."

"Trust me, she hasn't been born yet," Keely replied.

"He likes you," Cappie sighed.

"I don't challenge him," Keely said simply. "And I'm younger than most of the staff. He thinks of me as a child."

Cappie's eyes bulged.

Keely patted her on the shoulder. "Some people do." The smile faded. Keely was remembering her mother, who'd been killed by a friend of Keely's father. The whole town had been talking about it. Keely had landed well, though, in Boone Sinclair's strong arms.

"I'm sorry about your mother," Cappie said gently. "We all were."

"Thanks," Keely replied. "We were just getting to know one another when she was…killed. My father plea-bargained himself down to a short jail term, but I don't think he'll be back this way. He's too afraid of Sheriff Hayes."

"Now there's a real dish," Cappie said. "Handsome, brave…"

"…suicidal," Keely interjected.

"Excuse me?"

"He's been shot twice, walking into gun battles," Dr. King explained.

"No guts, no glory," Cappie said.

Her companions chuckled. The phone rang, another customer walked in and the conversation turned to business.

Cappie went home late. It was Friday and the place was packed with clients. Nobody escaped before six-thirty, not even the poor groomer who'd spent half a day on a Siberian husky. The animals had thick undercoats and it was a job to wash and brush them out. Dr. Rydel had been snippier than usual, too, glaring at Cappie as if she were responsible for the overflow of patients.

"Cappie, is that you?" her brother called from the bedroom.

"It's me, Kell," she called back. She put down her raincoat and purse and walked into the small, sparse bedroom where her older brother lay surrounded by magazines and books and a small laptop computer. He managed a smile for her.

"Bad day?" she asked gently, sitting down beside him on the bed, softly so that she didn't worsen the pain.

He only nodded. His face was taut, the only sign of the pain that ate him alive every hour of the day. A journalist, he'd been on overseas assignment for a magazine when he was caught in a firefight and wounded by shrapnel. It had lodged in his spine where it was too dangerous for even the most advanced surgery. The doctors said someday, the shrapnel might shift into a location where it would be operable. But until then, Kell was basically paralyzed from the waist down. Oddly, the magazine hadn't provided any sort of health care coverage for him, and equally oddly, he'd insisted that he wasn't going to court to force them to pay up. Cappie had wondered at her brother being in such a profession in the first place. He'd been in the army for several years. When he came out, he'd become a journalist. He made an extraordinary living from it. She'd mentioned that to a friend in the newspaper business who'd been astonished. Most magazines didn't pay that well, he'd noted, eyeing Kell's new Jaguar.

Well, at least they had Kell's savings to keep them going, even if it did so frugally now, after he paid the worst of the medical bills. Her meager salary, although good, barely kept the utilities turned on and food in the aging refrigerator.

"Taken your pain meds?" she added.

He nodded.

"Not helping?"

"Not a lot. Not today, anyway," he added with a forced grin. He was good-looking, with thick short hair even blonder than hers and those pale silvery-gray eyes. He was tall and muscular; or he had been, before he'd been wounded. He was in a wheelchair now.

"Someday they'll be able to operate," she said.

He sighed and managed a smile. "Before I die of old age, maybe."

"Stop that," she chided softly, and bent to kiss his forehead. "You have to have hope."

"I guess."

"Want something to eat?"

He shook his head. "Not hungry."

"I can make southwestern corn soup." It was his favorite.

He gave her a serious look. "I'm impacting your life. There are places for ex-military where I could stay…"

"No!" she exploded.

He winced. "Sis, it isn't right. You'll never find a man who'll take you on with all this baggage," he began.

"We've had this argument for several months already," she pointed out.

"Yes, since you gave up your job and moved back here with me, after I got…wounded. If our cousin hadn't died and left us this place, we wouldn't even have a roof over our heads, stark as it is. It's killing me, watching you try to cope."

"Don't be melodramatic," she chided. "Kell, all we have is each other," she added somberly. "Don't ask me to throw you out on the street so I can have a social life. I don't even like men much, don't you remember?"

His face hardened. "I remember why, mostly."

She flushed. "Now, Kell," she said. "We promised we wouldn't talk about that anymore."

"He could have killed you," he gritted. "I had to browbeat you just to make you press charges!"

She averted her eyes. Her one boyfriend in her adult life had turned out to be a homicidal maniac when he drank. The first time it happened, Frank Bartlett had grabbed Cappie's arm and left a black bruise. Kell advised her to get away from him, but she, infatuated and rationalizing, said that he hadn't meant it. Kell knew better, but he couldn't convince her. On their fourth date, the boy had taken her to a bar, had a few drinks, and when she gently tried to get him to stop, he'd dragged her outside and lit into her. The other patrons had come to her rescue and one of them had driven her home. The boy had come back, shamefaced and crying, begging for one more chance. Kell had put his foot down and said no, but Cappie was in love and wouldn't listen. They were watching a movie at the rented house, when she asked him about his drinking problem. He'd lost his temper and started hitting her, with hardly any provocation at all. Kell had managed to get into his wheelchair and into the living room. With nothing more than a lamp base as a weapon, he'd knocked the lunatic off Cappie and onto the floor. She was dazed and bleeding, but he'd told her how to tie the boy's thumbs together behind his back, which she'd done while Kell picked up his cell phone and called for law enforcement. Cappie had gone to the hospital and the boy had gone to jail for assault.

With her broken arm in a sling, Cappie had testified against him, with Kell beside her in court as moral support. The sentence, even so, hadn't been extreme. The boy drew six months' jail time and a year's probation. He also swore vengeance. Kell took the threat a great deal more seriously than Cappie had.

The brother and sister had a distant cousin who lived in Comanche Wells, Texas. He'd died a year ago, but the probation of the will had dragged on. Three months ago, Kell had a letter informing her that he and Cappie were inheriting a small house and a postage-stamp-size yard. But it was at least a place to live. Cappie had been uncertain about uprooting them from San Antonio, but Kell had been strangely insistent. He had a friend in nearby Jacobsville who was acquainted with a local veterinarian. Cappie could get a job there, working as a veterinary technician. So she'd given in.

She hadn't forgotten the boy. It had been a wrench, because he was her first real love. Fortunately for her, the relationship hadn't progressed past hot kisses and a little petting, although he'd wanted it to. That had been another sticking point: Cappie's impeccable morals. She was out of touch with the modern world, he'd accused, from living with her overprotective big brother for so long. She needed to loosen up. Easy to say, but Cappie didn't want a casual relationship and she said so. When he drank more than usual, he said it was her fault that he got drunk and hit her, because she kept him so frustrated.

Well, he was entitled to his opinion. Cappie didn't share it. He'd seemed like the nicest, gentlest sort of man when she'd first met him. His sister had brought her dog to the veterinary practice where Cappie worked. He'd been sitting in the truck, letting his sister wrangle a huge German shepherd dog back outside. When he'd seen Cappie, he'd jumped out and helped. His sister had seemed surprised. Cappie didn't notice.

After it was over, Cappie had found that at least two of her acquaintances had been subjected to the same sort of abuse by their own boyfriends. Some had been lucky, like Cappie, and disentangled themselves from the abusers. Others were trapped by fear into relationships they didn't even want.

Product Details

  • File Size: 195 KB
  • Print Length: 189 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 037317649X
  • Publisher: Harlequin Romance (March 24, 2010)
  • Sold by: Harlequin Digital Sales Corp.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0037NB5AG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,545 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Can I give negative stars? April 18, 2010
By Kim
Format:Mass Market Paperback
OH MY! Where do I start? As a long time fan of Ms. Palmer I looked forward to each new book. Her writing had a way of drawing you in and connecting with you emotionally. The key word in the last sentence was "had". The last few books have left me wondering what happened to one of my favorite writers. "Tough to Tame" should have been titled "Tough to Read"! The dialogue that I suppose was meant to be witty banter was trite and forced. The main characters were lost in a maze of secondary characters delivering one bad line after another. But the real shame in this book is that it is void of any emotion. There was no depth of feeling in the characters or the writing. I am not ashamed to admit that Ms. Palmer's books have moved me to tears in the past. Where is that writer? The only thing that moved me to tears in "Tough to Tame" is that I wasted a Sunday afternoon reading it.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Such a disappointment! April 24, 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I've been a long time devoted fan of Diana Palmer, but this book stunk to high heaven! The 'witty banter' made me blush it was so horrifyingly stilted, fake and beyond corny. The story is a re-tread of so many that came before it. The 'hero' was ridiculous, after one date started talking 'rings and licenses' and yet turns on her in a heartbeat. And the set ups for the next book MUST STOP! This Jacobsville place is crawling with mercenaries, international drug cartels, tall ruthless women-hating men and sweet innocent virgins -- give me a break! Time for a new town and some new ideas!
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why do I keep reading Palmer? April 8, 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback
As a previous reviewer mentioned, Diana Palmer is repetitive in her stories (I can not dignify them with the title "plots"). So why do I keep reading these books? Am I hoping for a return to the old Palmer style? No-I read them for the humor-mostly unintentional (I think)- of the trials and tribulations of the residents of the ever-shifting town of Jacobsville, Texas. "Ever-shifting", you ask? Jacobsville appears to be located within close driving distance of whichever large Texas city is a key location in the "plot" of the book. Houston, Austin, San Antonio...As a former resident of Wilson County, yes, Austin and San Antonio are fairly close together (in a Texas kind of way), but Houston? Not so much.
This particular tale did not irk me as much as say, the Keely-Boone book. He was in his mid thirties, and Keely was 19? What do a man in his thirties and a teenager have in common? Even a teen with a "tragic past, and health problems"?
Cappie seemed a relatively stable individual, without serious health problems or a terrible terrible past (except for the moron ex), and Bentley Rydell was a typical Palmer hero-alpha male with (step)daddy issues. I enjoyed the fact that Palmer left out many of the tacked on history lessons that have permeated many of her recent efforts; instead,, the reader gets a primer on Vet Techs and groomers and their function in the well-being and health of a dog. As I am neither a vet tech, nor a groomer-this did not irritate me like the "history/archaeology/anthropology" spiels do (I am working on my PhD in History).
I will continue to purchase Diana's works, as they successfully provide hours and hours of comedy gold (like CSI:Miami!)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Getting discouraged April 21, 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Diana Palmer has always been my favorite romance author. I have kept, and reread many of her earlier romance stories. However, I have become very discouraged and disappointed with her latest books, most of which I have to force myself to finish. What has happened to the romance? I used to love to lose myself in the love scenes, but now, I get about two pages of love scenes and what seems like hundreds of pages of "snappy" dialogue. And most of that is voiced by characters from previous books. While I enjoy playful banter between hero and heroine, I cannot make myself wade through chapter after chapter of it when the dialogue is mostly between mercenary buddies. Not when the book is purported to be a romance novel. PLEASE, Miss Palmer, go back to what you do best: give us finely etched characters who share passion and romance. Make them the stars. Not the others, who have already had their own stories told.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Romance? April 24, 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Always the same: Woman Hater, emotional abuse, virgin, older hero, young herione, parents dead, yadda, yadda, yadda. Where is the romance? Always a little petting for all of a page and then nothing until the last 2 pages when they get married. Please, a little less story on health care, video games and how they are played, and on characters from other books and more on the main characters would be greatly appreciated. I like to have old characters mentioned but they are over shadowing the main characters storyline. The only thing good about this one was there was very little of the verbal abuse the hero always lashes out to the herione. I noticed that was tamed down in "The Maverick" as well, but you are losing the whole romance thing. Why can't they "hook up" and go at it while they are trying to work out their relationship? How can you fall in love with someone and marry them without knowing if you are compatible in or out of the bed? I understand these women have morals because of parents that always had a religous background, but come on this is not Historical times this is Modern times. Again, I appreciate the tone down of the "Hate" issues from the hero as in most of DP's books, but let's amp up the romance some.
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More About the Author

I was born in south Georgia(USA), graduated from high school in Atlanta, married my husband, James, in Habersham County, and graduated from Piedmont College(Demorest, GA) summa cum laude in history with minors in anthropology and Spanish in 1995.

I worked for over 16 years as a newspaper reporter on both weekly and daily papers. In between reporting jobs, I had a son, Blayne, my greatest creative achievement. I love iguanas and most other animals, and am the biggest geek on earth. If it's electronic, and non-lethal, I probably have one. I was always the kid who was out of step with the rest of the world, and I still am. My father was a college professor, so my sister and I grew up not quite understanding what prejudice was.

I traveled a lot when I was more mobile than I am now, and I never met a person I didn't like. Writing books is more than a job to me, it's my life, next to being a wife, mother and grandmother. I am a person of faith, but I respect all religions and all cultures.

I write romantic suspense for HQN books, mass market and series contemporary romance for Harlequin, and science fiction novels for Luna Books. In my spare time, I sleep. :)

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Tough To Tame Dianne Palmer
New book. Bently Ryder and Campie. Bently is a vet in the office Keely works in and Campie is Kell's sister.
Feb 20, 2010 by Bookgoddes |  See all 4 posts
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