Tough to Tame

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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!

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Tough to Tame

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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!

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373176496
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 4/13/2010
  • Series: Long, Tall Texans Series, #4159
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 184
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet 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.

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Read an Excerpt

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.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 200 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 202 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 16, 2011

    GREAT BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Please please PLEASE dont listen to the bad reviews about this book!!!!!!! Im in love with this book right now and will read it over and over and over again. As a matter of fact, when i'm done writing this review i WILL re-read it!! It is funny (i almost peed my pant whenever Dead-Eye talks-you will get it if you buy the book), clever, creative, and understanding of the hardships that the main character had to go through. I would give this book more stars if i could. PLEASE buy this book! I love it and i know you will love it too. I recommend this book to a mature reader (as some parts are mild, note: does NOT go into deep detail. Actually, not really any detail or sex scenes. Thank goodness. It just mentions it.) Please get this book!! Another friendly review from a 13 year old reviewer, BYE!!!!! plc

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2010

    OK but not quite there.

    Always love Diane's books. I like the return of people form other books. I felt like this was an after thought or just done by rote. It lacked some of the punch and interest that a lot of her previous books have had. The characters just did not develope as far as others have before.Story was to short. I still enjoyed this even if it wasn't as good as some. It may have just need a larger format. Looking forward to new books by Diane Palmer.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 11, 2010

    Not Worth the Time to Read

    I will no longer buy Diana Palmer's books if this is an example of her future books. I was upset that I had wasted my money buying the paperback and that I wasted time reading it. The dialogue was silly, the plot predictable, the characters were ridiculously shallow and there were way too many references to mercenaries from past books. Diana Palmer is no longer on my must read list. I did not like this book at all and should have known from the last few Diana Palmer books I have read that it was not worth picking up.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2012

    Highly recommened reading

    Great story!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 29, 2011

    Another great book

    I've been reading her books for years and I'm a big fan of her writing. Mrs. Palmer doesn't write steamy, in your face sex scenes as she leaves it to your own imagination to fill in the blanks. Instead her books are heart warming and it's fun when she refers to characters in past books as she often does when she places a story in Jacobsville, Texas. This book is no exception to the rule. I encourage you to give her and this book a try when you just want a warm fuzzy feeling and feel the need to get away and relax.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2010

    Don't Waste Your Money

    Bad! Bad! No Romance! Characters are lame!!!!!!! I forced myself to finish this book. When I finally did, it went straight into the garbage can. Do not buy this book! Not worth it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2013

    Very typical

    Same story with characters with different names and different occupations. It's kind of like a formula novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2013

    Not to Tough to Tame

    While I love her books it was easy.It wasn't very tough.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2012

    Good love story, enjoyable read

    This was classic Diana Palmer. I enjoyed this book and really liked the characters and storyline. I highly recommend this book to any and all hopeless romantics like myself who want to escape into a wonderful world of happily ever after!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2011

    A quick read.

    This is interesting, a quick read for you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2010

    Don't bother

    I just wasted $2.19 and the time it took to read this book. Ugh!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Diana Palmer Follows A Winning Pattern

    Hard to beat the familiar pattern Diana Palmer does so well - Hard, tough and lonely male (Bentley Rydel) meets sweet, kind female raised in difficult situation (Cappie Drake), who makes the best of everything and rises above it all. The male resistant to the attraction but finally realizes the female needs his help and protection. Escapism yes, but a great journey.

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  • Posted May 7, 2010

    He's Ready to Take the Problem On!

    Diana Palmer's novel TOUGH TO TAME reflects her concern for society. She deals with various social issues. The issues of man's humanity to man, of man's love of our furry animal friends, and of the physical abuse of pets and people are evident in this novel. Of course, love and romance are entwined in the plot.. The characters are real people with real problems, "a slice of life." However,one downside to the novel is an over abundance of cliches. Nonetheless, I enjoyed reading TOUGH TO TAME. I enjoy Diana Palmer's writings because she makes me think, cry, and smile. I hope each reader comes out more aware of the various issues in society after reading this novel.

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  • Posted May 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Tough to Read

    Diana Palmer has a formula that works for her novels: (1) Virgin girl meets "Woman-Hater". (2) Girl and "Hater" fall for each other, but they don't tell each other their feelings. (3) A stupid misunderstanding happens that pulls the two apart. (4) Girl and "Hater" re-unite and live happily ever after. It's predictable, but expect this formula when Palmer is writing.
    This novel was no different in formula, but kind of lacking in attention to detail. There were parts where the back stories for characters were repeated... like three different times. I wondered if anyone proofreading this book noticed that they could have shaved off a couple of pages by taking out parts that had already been explained. I also wished that she would stop using "woman hater" in this book. It was so repetitive college students could have made a drinking game out of it.
    Still, the book was a nice escape to Diana Palmer's world where people have a strict set of values and stick by them. If you like Diana Palmer books you may be a little disappointed by this story. If you've never read Diana Palmer this isn't the best example of her stories.

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  • Posted April 21, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Was this really Ms. Palmer?

    This book was an absolute dud. The character development was poor, leap-frogging into different traits & histories that were too convoluted, even for fiction, and the plot was cookie-cutter predictable. Ms. Palmer seemed more interested in writing zingers into her conversations between other, very minor characters that distracted rather than enhanced. This is 2 duds in a row, including "The Maverick". Come on, Ms. Palmer, don't be in such a rush to churn something out - you've got a long, wonderful history of great books behind you. We know you can do better!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2010

    Love Diana Palmer, but this book was boring...

    I have been reading Diana Palmer books for many years and can say I have read everyone book she has ever written. Tough to Tame I have to say was boring. I was very disappointed. It just was not exciting to read. I found myself wondering if she really wrote this book. So many of her previous books are very hard to put down. I always wait with antispation for her books. This was a let down. I will still continue to read her books. Hopefully, the new book coming out in June (one I have been waiting on for a very long time) will be much better and more exciting.

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  • Posted April 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Too Tough to Swallow

    I think Diana Palmer is losing touch with the readers she started with. The bantering dialogue between characters is stilted and old-fashioned and I am tired of the reoccurring theme of "woman hater" in her books. All the romantic leads "hate" women and treat them poorly. Always, a timid, virginal character puts up with them and ends up with them. Yea. It's getting real old. In our day and age, do we call a hot guy "dishy"?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2010

    Too negative

    Normally I like reading books from Diana Palmer but I found this book to have so much negativity. It was actually somewhat of a downer. The main female character, Cappie, acts too timid for my taste. The book is rather repetitive and constantly talking about the brother & sisters lack of money. This is the first time I am going to have to stop one of Diana Palmer's books mid through. I wish I could send this one back for a refund.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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