Wyoming Tough

Wyoming Tough

3.8 159
by Diana Palmer

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A cowboy through and through, ranch owner Mallory Kirk knows what it means to put in a full day's work. But does his new cowgirl? He has his doubts that Morie Brannt will be able to pull her own weight, even if the petite young woman does seem to have a lot of spirit.

As they spar over events at the ranch and a past that threatens their hopes for the future,

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A cowboy through and through, ranch owner Mallory Kirk knows what it means to put in a full day's work. But does his new cowgirl? He has his doubts that Morie Brannt will be able to pull her own weight, even if the petite young woman does seem to have a lot of spirit.

As they spar over events at the ranch and a past that threatens their hopes for the future, sparks begin to fly, and Mallory can't help but notice Morie in a new light. But is this tough Wyoming man ready to love?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Palmer demonstrates, yet again, why she's the queen of desperado quests for justice and true love." --Publishers Weekly on Dangerous

"The popular Palmer has penned another winning novel, a perfect blend of romance and suspense."

--Booklist on Lawman

"Palmer knows how to make the sparks fly...heartwarming."

--Publishers Weekly on Renegade

"Sensual and suspenseful."

--Booklist on Lawless

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Edith Danielle Morena Brannt was not impressed with her new boss. The head honcho of the Rancho Real, or Royal Ranch in Spanish, near Catelow, Wyoming, was big and domineering and had a formidable bad attitude that he shared with all his hired hands.

Morie, as she was known to her friends, had a hard time holding back her fiery temper when Mallory Dawson Kirk raised his voice. He was impatient and hot-tempered and opinionated. Just like Morie's father, who'd opposed her decision to become a working cowgirl. Her dad opposed everything. She'd just told him she was going to find a job, packed her bags and left. She was twenty-three. He couldn't really stop her legally. Her mother, Shelby, had tried gentle reason. Her brother, Cort, had tried, too, with even less luck. She loved her family, but she was tired of being chased for who she was related to instead of who she was inside. Being a stranger on somebody else's property was an enchanting proposition.

Even with Mallory's temper, she was happy being accepted for a poor, struggling female on her own in the harsh world. Besides that, she wanted to learn ranch work and her father refused to let her so much as lift a rope on his ranch. He didn't want her near his cattle.

"And another thing," Mallory said harshly, turning to Morie with a cold glare, "there's a place to hang keys when you're through with them. You never take a key out of the stable and leave it in your pocket. Is that clear?''

Morie, who'd actually transported the key to the main tack room off the property in her pocket at a time it was desperately needed, flushed. "Sorry, sir," she said stiffly. "Won't happen again."

"It won't if you expect to keep working here," he assured her.

"My fault," the foreman, old Darby Hanes, chimed in, smiling. "i forgot to tell her."

Mallory considered that and nodded finally. "That's what I always liked most about you, Darb, you're honest." He turned to Morie. "An example I'll expect you to follow, as our newest hire, by the way."

Her face reddened. "Sir, I've never taken anything that didn't belong to me."

He looked at her cheap clothes, the ragged hem of her jeans, her worn boots. But he didn't judge. He just nodded.

He had thick black hair, parted on one side and a little shaggy around the ears. He had big ears and a big nose, deep-set brown eyes under a jutting brow, thick eyebrows and a mouth so sensuous that Morie hadn't been able to take her eyes off it at first. That mouth made up for his lack of conventional good looks. He had big, well-manicured hands and a voice like deep velvet, as well as big feet, in old, rugged, dirt-caked boots. He was the boss, and nobody ever forgot it, but he got down in the mud and blood with his men and worked as if he was just an employee himself.

In fact, all three Kirk brothers were like that. Mallory was the oldest, at thirty-six. The second brother, Cane—a coincidence if there ever was one, considering Morie's mother's maiden name, even if hers was spelled with a K—was thirty-four, a veteran of the Second Gulf War, and he was missing an arm from being in the front lines in combat. He was confronting a drinking problem and undergoing therapy, which his brothers were trying to address.

The youngest brother, at thirty-one, was Dalton. He was a former border agent with the department of immigration, and his nickname was, for some odd reason, Tank. He'd been confronted by a gang of narco-smugglers on the Arizona border, all alone. He was shot to pieces and hospitalized for weeks, during which most of the physicians had given him up for dead because of the extent of his injuries. He confounded them all by living. Nevertheless, he quit the job and came home to the family ranch in Wyoming. He never spoke of the experience. But once Morie had seen him react to the backfire of an old ranch truck by diving to the ground. She'd laughed, but old Darby Hanes had silenced her and told her about Dalton's past as a border agent. She'd never laughed at his odd behaviors again. She supposed that both he and Cane had mental and emotional scars, as well as physical ones, from their past experiences. She'd never been shot at, or had anything happen to her. She'd been as sheltered as a hothouse orchid, both by her parents and her brother. This was her first taste of real life. She wasn't certain yet if she was going to like it.

She'd lived on her father's enormous ranch all her life. She could ride anything—her father had taught her himself. But she wasn't accustomed to the backbreaking work that daily ranch chores required, because she hadn't been permitted to do them at home, and she'd been slow her first couple of days.

Darby Hanes had taken her in hand and shown her how to manage the big bales of hay that the brothers still packed into the barn—refusing the more modern rolled bales as being inefficient and wasteful—so that she didn't hurt herself when she lifted them. He'd taught her how to shoe horses, even though the ranch had a farrier, and how to doctor sick calves. In less than two weeks, she'd learned things that nothing in her college education had addressed.

"You've never done this work before," Darby accused, but he was smiling.

She grimaced. "No. But I needed a job, badly," she said, and it was almost the truth. "You've been great, Mr. Hanes. I owe you a lot for not giving me away. For teaching me what I needed to know here." And what a good thing it was, she thought privately, that her father didn't know. He'd have skinned Hanes alive for letting his sheltered little girl shoe a horse.

He waved a hand dismissively. "Not a problem. You make sure you wear those gloves," he added, nodding toward her back pocket. "You have beautiful hands. Like my wife used to," he added with a faraway look in his eyes and a faint smile. "She played the piano in a restaurant when I met her. We went on two dates and got married. Never had kids. She passed two years ago, from cancer." He stopped for a minute and took a long breath. "Still miss her," he added stiffly.

"I'm sorry," she said.

"I'll see her again," he replied. "Won't be too many years, either. It's part of the cycle, you see. Life and death. We all go through it. Nobody escapes."

That was true. How odd to be in a philosophical discussion on a ranch.

He lifted an eyebrow. "You think ranch hands are high-school dropouts, do you?" he mused. "I have a degree from MIT. I was their most promising student in theoretical physics, but my wife had a lung condition and they wanted her to come west to a drier climate. Her dad had a ranch…" He stopped, chuckling. "Sorry. I tend to run on. Anyway, I worked on the ranch and preferred it to a lab. After she died, I came here to work. So here I am. But I'm not the only degreed geek around here. We have three part-timers who are going to college on scholarships the Kirk brothers set up for them."

"What a nice bunch of guys!" she exclaimed.

"They really are. All of them seem tough as nails, and they mostly are, but they'll help anyone in need." He shifted. "Paid my wife's hospital bill after the insurance lapsed. A small fortune, and they didn't even blink."

Her throat got tight. What a generous thing to do. Her family had done the same for people, but she didn't dare mention that. "That was good of them," she said with genuine feeling.

"Yes. I'll work here until I die, if they'll keep me. They're great people."

They heard a noise and turned around. The boss was standing behind them.

"Thanks for the testimonial, but I believe there are cattle waiting to be dipped in the south pasture…." Mallory commented with pursed lips and twinkling dark eyes.

Darby chuckled. "Yes, there are. Sorry, boss, I was just lauding you to the young lady. She was surprised to find out that I studied philosophy."

"Not to mention theoretical physics," the boss added drily.

"Yes, well, I won't mention your degree in biochemistry if you like," Darby said outrageously.

Mallory quirked an eyebrow. "Thanks."

Darby winked at Morie and left them alone.

Mallory towered over the slight brunette. "Your name is unusual. Morie…?"

She laughed. "My full name is Edith Danielle Morena Brannt," she replied. "My mother knew I'd be a brunette, because both my parents are, so they added morena, which means brunette in Spanish. I had, uh, Spanish great-grandparents," she stuttered, having almost given away the fact that they were titled Spanish royalty. That would never do. She wanted to be perceived as a poor, but honest, cowgirl. Her last name wasn't uncommon in South Texas, and Mallory wasn't likely to connect it with King Brannt, who was a true cattle baron.

He cocked his head. "Morie," he said. "Nice."

"I'm really sorry, about the key," she said.

He shrugged. "I did the same thing last month, but I'm the boss," he added firmly. "I don't make mistakes. You remember that."

She gave him an open smile. "Yes, sir."

He studied her curiously. She was small and nicely rounded, with black hair that was obviously long and pulled into a bun atop her head. She wasn't beautiful, but she was pleasant to look at, with those big brown eyes and that pretty mouth and perfect skin. She didn't seem the sort to do physical labor on a ranch.

"Sir?" she asked, uncomfortable from the scrutiny.

"Sorry. I was just thinking that you don't look like the usual sort we hire for ranch hands."

"I do have a college degree," she defended herself.

"You do? What was your major?"

"History," she said, and looked defensive. "Yes, it's dates. Yes, it's about the past. Yes, some of it can be boring. But I love it."

He looked at her thoughtfully. "You should talk to Cane. His degree is in anthropology. Pity it wasn't paleontology, because we're close to Fossil Lake. That's part of the Green River Formation, and there are all sorts of fossils there. Cane loved to dig." His face hardened. "He won't talk about going back to it."

"Because of his arm?" she asked bluntly. "That wouldn't stop him. He could do administrative work on a dig." She flushed. "I minored in anthropology," she confessed.

He burst out laughing. "No wonder you like ranch work. Did you go on digs?" He knew, as some people didn't, that archaeology was one of four subfields of anthropology.

"I did. Drove my mother mad. My clothes were always full of mud and I looked like a street child most of the time." She didn't dare tell him that she'd come to dinner in her dig clothing when a famous visiting politician from Europe was at the table, along with some members of a royal family. Her father had been eloquent. "There were some incidents when I came home muddy," she added with a chuckle.

"I can imagine." He sighed. "Cane hasn't adjusted to the physical changes. He's stopped going to therapy and he won't join in any family outings. He stays in his room playing online video games." He stopped. "Good Lord, I can't believe I'm telling you these things."

"I'm as quiet as a clam," she pointed out. "I never tell anything I know."

"You're a good listener. Most people aren't."

She smiled. "You are."

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Wyoming Tough 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 159 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a longtime Diana Palmer fan. However, the book is simiply not very good. It's almost as if someone else has written the last several books for her. Harlequin books are about romance, Diana Palmer is about innocent heroines. This book has no real romance and devotes the first 100 pages or so to so many details of the police force and suspects, that I forgot I was supposed to be reading a romance. I used to buy Diana Palmer books in hardback (as soon as they came out) because they could make me cry, make me laugh and draw me in to the romance. Her last several books have no romance, no emotion and deal too much with video games and peripheral relationships.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was honestly disappointed with the content and the cost, expected more from this author
evanescenceSE More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book much more than my first Diana Palmer's book. Can only recommend
LASR_Reviews More than 1 year ago
Morie Brannt is trying to create a life for herself. She's the daughter of wealthy and well known cattle baron King Brannt and his top model wife, Shelby. So why is she working as a hired ranch hand on Rancho Real in Wyoming? Because she is doing what she loves, learning to work a ranch, since her father would not teach her and her brother thinks she is just plain nuts. But Morie loves what she does. Too bad she doesn't like her boss, Mallory Kirk. Mallory's opinion of women leaves a lot to be desired and he isn't going to give Morie any leeway. If she wants this job she is going to need to work for it just like the men on his ranch. Taken under the wing of an older and wiser hand and with Mallory's brothers for moral support, Morie tries to make a new life, appreciated for what she can do not just for what she is worth. Throw in Mallory's jealous and suspicious girlfriend, an escaped convict hiding on the ranch, fancy dinner parties, the theft of a family heirloom and a surprising family member showing up at the ranch to put Morie in over her head and you have plenty of conflict. Morie is a wonderful character, someone trying to be who she isn't but her true nature and passion come to the front at every turn. She is a constant source of surprise for Mallory and brings out the very best in him while also bringing out the very worst. He is a typical Diana Palmer heartthrob hero...tall, sexy, stubborn, unwilling to believe he could be wrong and fighting falling for the wrong woman who is really the only right woman. Diana Palmer has been a staple among romance fans for years now. She has always maintained a steady stream of devoted readers while consistently attracting new generations. With the introduciton of the Kirk brothers, she lays the ground work for more stories involving Cane, the war vet, and Dalton the former border agent. I have been reading Diana Palmer books since the the 1970's. I admit I am a true fan of her Long Tall Texan series and appreciate the formula for her books.She is truly the Queen of the sensual, heartwarming, heart breaking romance where the hero eventaully comes to his senses before losing the great love of his life. This particular book is true Diana Palmer and is a must read for her die hard fans but is also a great place to start to eventually become one of her die hard fans. At her worst she is fantastic and at her best she is amazing. With Wyoming Tough she is at her best!!! Originally posted at The Long and Short of It Romance Reviews
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i love all books written by diana palmer if u havent read her i highly recommand you read one and youll be hooked
bookholiday More than 1 year ago
Love all Diana Palmer's books. would recommend them to everyone
Michelleeeeee More than 1 year ago
I discovered Diana Palmer years and years ago. The one thing I love about her is no matter how many titles I have read, I still want to read every new title that comes out. I started this novel and it didn't matter how long it took I did not put it down until I was done. Her characters make you feel like you are part of their family. Although the plots are pretty much the same, and predictible the characters make you feel like it is a brand new story all over again. The one thing that gets me with her novels is that whenever I complete her latest book I find myself digging through my library re-reading all the stories of the characters she reintroduced me to again. Strong independent women who are not afraid to go after what they want no matter what falling for the best male specimens out there! I mean really is there any better man than a cowboy! So pull up a chair and settle in and take a trip to Wyoming...you will be glad you DID!
Anonymous 6 months ago
Only 165 pgs. I gave this book 2stars because the main characters had names that sounded alike and I was confused at time which was which. The story was ok. But went back to other books to much in detail. Didn't read like any of Palmers other books..
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CindyCAR More than 1 year ago
This first book, followed by Wyoming Bold and Wyoming Fierce are 3 great books. I could not put them down. I kept wanting to see what was going to happen next. 3 brothers own a cattle ranch. Each of the books focuses on 1 of the brothers and the woman who falls in love with him, although all of the characters are mentioned in each book because they are a very close family. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Morie is a very rich heiress who is tired of her father's constant protection and treating her like she would break.  He keeps pushing her to marry a man who he considers to be the 'right' man so it turns out that anyone she dates is really just interested in her money - not her. Even though Morie's dad owns a huge ranch, he will not let her do anything on the ranch except ride the horses so she leaves and gets a job as a ranch hand on the Kirk ranch to prove that she can succeed without her father's influence.  She dresses and acts like a ranch hand so nobody knows who she really is. She does pretty well at the job until her boss' girlfriend, Gelly, feels threatened by her and makes her life miserable, trying to get her fired.  Gelly tries to intimidate Morie but she doesn't take it and talks back to Gelly.  Gelly goes to Mallory to tell him what happened but changed the facts to make it look like Morie was to blame for the whole incident, trying to get her fired.  Morie does finally get fired when a family heirloom was found planted in her bag. In the meantime, Morie has fallen in love with Mallory but changes her opinion of him when he fires her without letting her defend herself. This story is cute and different with a rich girl pretending to be poor and working for her living (which she had never done before).  I could really relate to the characters and liked them. Morie is a strong, fun character. Mallory and his brothers all have problems, but Mallory has more than the other two. He thinks that because he is not handsome, he doesn’t have much to offer, and that women are only interested in him for his money. 
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She writes amazing books. Hope she evenualy puts all of them on the nook.
cjudd998 More than 1 year ago
this is an interesting series and it ties in with another of here series. keeps you looking for the next one to make all the connections going on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed series ver much!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good love story with values. Rare today.
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Mseer More than 1 year ago
Lazy and lame, usually like Dianna Palmer, this fell far short of her standards.
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