Long, Tall Texansthe first threereunited in this special roundup!
About the Author
Diana Palmer (a pseudonym for Susan Kyle, born Susan Spaeth in 1946) is the author of dozens of romance novels dating back to 1979. Voted one of the top ten romance writers in America, Palmer’s best-known books are part of her Long, Tall Texans series. Palmer lives with her family in Cornelia, Georgia.
Read an Excerpt
Long, Tall TexansCalhoun/Justin/Tyler
By Diana Palmer
Silhouette BooksCopyright © 2001 Diana Palmer
All right reserved.
Abby couldn't help looking over her shoulder from time to time as she stood in line at the theater ticket counter. She'd escaped by telling Justin that she was going to see an art exhibit. Calhoun, thank God, was off somewhere buying more cattle, although he was certain to be home later this evening. When he found out where his ward had been, he'd be furious. She almost grinned at her own craftiness.
Well, it took craftiness to deal with Calhoun Ballenger. He and Justin, his older brother, had taken Abby in when she'd been just 15. They would have been her stepbrothers, except that an untimely car accident had killed their father and Abby's mother just two days before the couple were to have gotten married. There hadn't been any other family, so Calhoun had proposed that he and Justin assume responsibility for the heartbroken teenager, Abigail Clark. And they did. It was legal, of course; technically Abby was Calhoun's ward. The problem was that she couldn't make Calhoun realize that she was a woman.
Abby sighed. That was a problem, all right. And to make it even worse, he'd gone crazy on the subject of protecting her from the world. For the past four months it had been a major ordeal just to go out on a date. The way he stood watch over her was getting almost comical. Justin rarely smiled, but Calhoun's antics brought him close to it.
Calhoun's attitude didn't amuse Abby, though. She was desperately in love with Calhoun, but the big blond man still looked upon her as a child. And despite her frequent attempts to show Calhoun that she was a woman, she couldn't seem to get through his armor.
She shifted restlessly. She had no idea of how to attract a man like Calhoun in the first place. He wasn't as much of a rounder now as he had been in his youth, but she knew that he was frequently seen in nightclubs in San Antonio with one sophisticated beauty or another. And here was Abby, dying of love for him. She wasn't sophisticated or beautiful. She was a rather plain country girl, not the sort to immediately draw men's eyes, even though her figure was better than average.
After brooding over the problem, she had come up with a solution. If she could manage to get sophisticated, he might notice her. Going to a strip show wasn't exactly the best first step, but in Jacobsville it was a good start. Just being seen here would show Calhoun that she wasn't the little prude he thought she was. When he found out about it--and eventually he would hear she'd attended the show.
Abby smoothed the waistline of her pretty gray plaid skirt. She was wearing a pale yellow blouse with it, and her long, wavy brown hair was in a neat chignon. Her hair, when it was loose, was one of her best assets. It was thick and silky. And her eyes weren't bad. They were big, quiet grayish-blue eyes, and she was blessed with a peaches-and-cream complexion and a perfect bow of a mouth. But without careful makeup she was hopelessly plain. Her breasts were bigger than she wanted them to be, her legs longer than she would have liked. She had friends who were small and dainty, and they made her feel like a beanpole. She glanced down at herself miserably. If only she were petite and exquisitely beautiful.
At least she did look older and more sophisticated than usual in her burgundy velour jacket, and her blue-gray eyes sparkled as she thought about what she was doing. Well, it wasn't so bad for a woman to go to a male dance revue, was it? She had to get educated somehow, and God knew Calhoun wasn't about to let her date any men who knew the score. He saw to it that her only escorts were boys her own age, and he screened every one and made casual remarks about how often he cleaned his guns and what he thought about "fooling around before marriage." It wasn't really surprising to Abby that few of her dates came back.
She shivered a little in the cold night air. It was February, and cold even in south Texas. As she huddled in her jacket, she smiled at another young woman shivering in the long line outside the Grand Theater. It was the only theater in Jacobsville, and there had been some opposition to having this kind of entertainment come to town. But in the end there had been surprisingly few complaints, and there was a long line of women waiting to see if these men lived up to the publicity.
Wouldn't Calhoun just die when he found out what she'd done? She grinned. His blonde-streaked brown hair would stand on end, and his dark eyes would glare at her furiously. Justin would do what he always did--he'd go out and dig postholes while Calhoun wound down. The two brothers looked a lot alike, except that Justin's hair was almost black. They both had dark eyes, and they were both tall, muscular men. Calhoun was by far the handsomer of the two. Justin had a craggy face and a reticent personality, and although he was courteous to women, he never dated anybody. Almost everybody knew why--Shelby Jacobs had thrown him over years ago, refusing to marry him.
That had been when the Ballengers had still been poor, before Justin's business sense and Calhoun's feel for marketing had skyrocketed them to success with a mammoth feedlot operation here in south Texas. Shelby's family was rich, and rumor had it that she thought Justin was beneath her. It had certainly made him bitter. Funny, she mused, Shelby seemed like such a wonderful woman. And her brother, Tyler, was nice, too.
Two more ladies got their tickets, and Abby dug out a 10-dollar bill. Just as she got to the ticket counter, though, her wrist was suddenly seized and she was pulled unceremoniously to one side.
"I thought I recognized that jacket," Calhoun murmured, glaring down at her with eyes that were dark and faintly glittering. "What a good thing I decided to come home through town. Where's my brother?" he added for good measure. "Does he know where you are?"
"I told him I was going to an art exhibit," Abby replied with a touch of her irrepressible humor. Her blue-gray eyes twinkled up at him, and she felt the warm glow she always felt when Calhoun came close. Even when he was angry, it was so good to be near him. "Well, it is an art exhibit, sort of," she argued when he looked skeptical. "Except that the male statues are alive..."
"My God." He stared at the line of amused women and abruptly turned toward his white Jaguar, tugging at her wrist. "Let's go."
"I'm not going home," she said firmly, struggling. It was exciting to challenge him. "I'm going to buy my ticket and go in there--Calhoun!" she wailed as he ended the argument by simply lifting her in his hard arms and carrying her to the car.
"I can't even leave the state for one day without you doing something insane," Calhoun muttered in his deep, gravelly voice. "The last time I went off on business, I came home to find you about to leave for Lake Tahoe with that Misty Davies."
"Congratulations. You saved me from a weekend of skiing," Abby murmured dryly. Not for the world would she have admitted how exciting it was to have him carry her, to feel his strength at such close quarters. He was as strong as he looked, and the subtle scents of his body and the warmth of his breath on her face made her body tingle in new and exciting ways.
"There were two college boys all set to go along, as I remember," he reminded her.
"What am I supposed to do with my car?" she demanded. "Leave it here?"
"Why not? God knows nobody would be stupid enough to steal it," he replied easily, and kept walking, her slight weight soft and disturbing in his hard arms.
"It's a very nice little car," she protested, talking more than usual because the feel of his chest was unnerving her. His clean-shaven chin was just above her, and she was getting drunk on the feel of him.
"Which you wouldn't have if I'd gone with you instead of Justin," he returned. "Honest to God, he spoils you rotten. He should have married Shelby and had kids of his own to ruin. I hate having him practice on you. That damned little sports car isn't safe."
"It's mine, I like it, I'm making the payments and I'm keeping it," she said shortly.
He looked down at her, his dark eyes much too close to hers. "Aren't we brave, though?" he taunted softly, deliberately letting his gaze fall on her mouth.
She could barely breathe, but he wasn't going to make her back down. Not that way. She didn't dare let him see the effect he had on her. "I'm almost 21," she reminded him. He looked into her eyes, and she felt the impact of his glance like a body blow. It made her feel like a lead weight. And there was a sudden tautness about his body that puzzled her. For seconds that strung out like hours, he searched her eyes. Then abruptly he moved again.
"So you keep telling me," he replied curtly. "And then you go and do something stupid like this."
"There's nothing wrong with being sophisticated," she mumbled. "God knows how I'll ever get an education. You seem to want me to spend the rest of my life a virgin."
"Hang out in this kind of atmosphere and you won't stay in that sainted condition for much longer," he returned angrily. She disturbed him when she made such statements. She had been talking like that for months, and he was no nearer a solution to the problem than he had been at the beginning. He quickened his pace toward the car, his booted feet making loud, angry thuds on the pavement.
Excerpted from Long, Tall Texans by Diana Palmer Copyright © 2001 by Diana Palmer. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Couldn't wait to see more of her books! It was funny, emotional, and dramatic. Made me want to keep on reading when there wasn't any more pages left.
Diana is a great writer. I have fallen in love with the Long Tall Texans. They are hot,Its Great Book Hot and Spicy just the way a Romance Novel should be I gave it 5 stars but it deserves 10 stars. I recomand this one to anyone who likes Romance Novels
Meet Calhoun, Justin, and Tyler - and Abby, Shelby and Nell - in this omnibus reprint of three classic Texas romances.Calhoun Ballenger's just about had it with his ward's new-found interest in all things inappropriate. But what's really upsetting is his sudden desire to kiss her senseless... can Abby convince this maverick that he's ready to wear her brand?Justin Ballenger's spent six long years torn between hating Shelby Jacobs for dumping him and a desire that's never quite died. For Shelby, regaining Justin's trust seems like a hopeless prospect, even after her long overdue trip down the aisle.For shy Nell, hiding inside her bulky layers and behind new ranch foreman Tyler Jacobs is a safety precaution. She doesn't trust strange men, although Tyler's an exception. When a misunderstanding sets Nell running, can Tyler convince her to trust in her heart... and him?Formulaic and more than a bit dated, but if you're in the mood for an emotional roller-coaster topped neatly with a happy ending, (and you can quell the occasional urge to hunt down and thump one or the other of the main characters) you're in luck.
This book will keep you reading until you cannot see anymore!