published in 2013.
Tough to tame, but not too tough to love… 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
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?
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Rain snaked down the windshield of his F-150 in lazy rivers as Walker Pearce waited for the stoplight to turn green. Jackson Town Square was deserted, but the light waited for nonexistent tourists to make their way across the street. He hit the windshield wipers, wishing they could wipe the phantom trace of her fingers from his skin, as well. The cab of the truck still smelled like her perfume.
Ignoring the rain, he cracked his window, then pulled forward when the light turned.
It wasn't that he hated her. It was just that he'd thought she'd really wanted to talk when she'd called. But, of course, that wasn't what Nicole had wanted from him. It never was.
He knew his scruples weren't exactly sound. He'd kissed her, yes. In fact, they would've had sex one night if they hadn't gotten spooked by a near interruption. So no, he couldn't pretend that he was above such things, exactly. But somehow, messing around with the ranch owner's wife had felt less wrong when it had been happenstance. An unexpected moment alone in the tack room. An accidental meeting after a summer party. He hadn't meant it. Neither had she. Or so he'd told himself.
But now that he was no longer working at the Fletcher Guest Ranch, Nicole couldn't leave it to chance. She'd called and asked him to meet her by Old Warm Springs. It was important, she'd said. She'd needed to see him. He'd liked that. Feeling important to a woman like her. But he'd mistaken the word.
Walker scrubbed a hand over his mouth, thinking he'd have to shave his beard if the smell of her skin wouldn't wash off.
He hadn't had sex with her this time, either, despite the way she'd climbed onto his lap and pressed herself against him. He wasn't sure why he was so determined to protect her marriage. She didn't seem to care all that much. Before he'd gotten fired from the ranch, Walker had told her they couldn't do it because he worked for her husband, because they'd be doing it under the man's roof, because he'd be fired if they got caught. But those things didn't matter now, so why did he feel even less tempted?
Maybe she'd just picked the wrong meeting spot. The springs had reminded him of junior high, and swimming with girls who'd made his head spin with fascinated lust when sex had seemed unattainable and dangerously romantic.
Sex was no longer unattainable and there was nothing romantic about the danger with Nicole. She just made him sad. And he was worried that everyone at the ranch suspected. He'd been fired for yet another paperwork screwup, but being fired over paperwork wasn't one of the most common stories told around a camp-fire. It had been an excuse. Walker had known that and so had his manager. Walker had no idea if that meant Nicole's husband knew, or if it was a matter of rumors just becoming too much for management to ignore.
Whatever the reason, seeing her felt wrong now, but his refusal had seriously pissed Nicole off. Maybe she wouldn't call again.
He felt only relief at the idea as he parked his truck in front of his apartment and got out. But instead of heading into the building, he crossed the lawn and walked toward the old saloon next door.
Truthfully, he missed the ranch. He missed his dog. He needed a drink, and fast.
"Hey!" Jenny Stone called from behind the bar as soon as he walked in. "You're just the man I was looking for!"
Walker couldn't help the wide grin that spread across his face. Jenny was a damn cute blonde. "Oh, yeah? Is there something Nate ain't giving you, dar-lin'? I'd be happy to oblige."
Jenny rolled her eyes. "You wish."
"True enough. But I do try to steer clear of a woman whose boyfriend carries a gun. Tends to leave a mark." He took off his hat and grabbed a stool.
When he nodded, she drew a beer and shot a nervous look toward the back of the saloon. Walker turned to look, but the place was nearly empty at 3:00 p.m. on a rainy Tuesday.
She slid him his beer and leaned close. "You remember Charlie Allington?"
For a moment, Walker had no idea who Jenny was talking about. He'd worked with a damn lot of cowboys in his day, some who'd come and gone so quickly that he'd never even learned their names. "Charlie," he repeated, looking for a memory. The one that popped into his head shocked the hell out of him. "Oh, Charlie! Of course."
He and Charlie Allingtonknown as Charlotte only if you were trying to irritate herhad gone to high school together. In fact, she'd been his tutor for all of his junior year. "It's been a long time," he said.
"So Charlie is Nate's cousin. Once removed or second cousin or however that works."
"Is she doing okay?" Last he'd heard, she'd moved to Vegas for a big job.
"She's great. She's back in town, working at one of the Teton resorts as a security manager, and she called Nate to ask if he knew a place she could stay."
"And you suggested my place?" he asked with an automatic wink. But he felt guilty as soon as he said it. The last time he'd seen Charlie she'd been a sweet teenage girl whose number-one interest had been the track team.
"Oh, I know your door's always open, but I need something else."
She smiled and cocked her head. "A favor."
He eyed her fluttering lashes suspiciously.
"Rayleen has been complaining about the Stud Farm being invaded by a swarm of women."
"I'd hardly call Merry a swarm."
"Yeah, well, she's still pissed that Grace moved out and talked Rayleen into letting Merry stay. She was hoping to pack the place with nothing but big hotties again this winter." She nudged his elbow. "As usual."
He gave her another grin. Old Rayleen owned the apartment building next to the saloon. She had a long history of only renting to young men, and since the house had once been the Studd homestead before it'd been broken up into apartments and modernized, the town had started calling it the Stud Farm.
Last year, Rayleen had reluctantly broken with her lecherous tradition and let her great-niece move in. Then her niece's best friend.
"What does this have to do with Charlie?" Walker asked.
"Um I was hoping you might talk Rayleen into renting to your old friend Charlie. You know, just another cowboy looking for a place to crash for the winter."
"Another Oh, no. No way. Rayleen likes me."
"Rayleen loves you!" Jenny interrupted. "That's why she'll let Charlie move in without even seeing her. And by the time she's moved in, even Rayleen wouldn't be mean enough to evict her. Not to mention it'd be illegal to blatantly kick out a tenant for being female."
"What about kicking out a tenant for lying about a new renter?" he grouched.
"She'll forgive you. You're too big and handsome and sexy for her to hold a grudge." She fluttered her eyelashes again.
"I like it a lot better when you don't have an ulterior motive for calling me sexy."
"But that's the only time I call you sexy, so catch-22."
He grinned. "You sure about that, Jenny?"
Jenny rolled her eyes. "Save your magic for Ray-leen, cowboy."
"Hey, I've got an idea. Why don't you trick her into renting a place to Charlie and leave me out of it?"
"No way. Rayleen's my boss. She can fire me. She can't fire you." Jenny nudged his half-empty beer. "That beer's on the house if you do it."
"One beer? I haven't been out of work that long. I'm not desperate."
"One beer and the gratitude of Deputy Nate Hendricks. That could come in handy. A cop on your side. And think of your old friend Charlie!"
Yeah. Cute little Charlie. She needed a place to stay. And the Stud Farm was one of the few cheap, nice options in this tourist town. "Shit," he muttered.
"Yea!" Jenny cried, confident she'd won him over.
Walker shook his head and scrubbed a hand through his hair. It was too long and starting to curl over his collar. He'd meant to shave his beard and get a cut weeks ago, but now it was turning cold and he couldn't bring himself to shear any of it. Still, it would've given Nicole less of a hold if he'd gotten rid of it.
He downed the rest of his beer. "I'm not going to lie to an old lady. But I'll do what I can, all right?"
"All right. Thanks. You're the best, Walker."
"That's what they say."
"You're also incorrigible. Good thing, because here comes Rayleen."
He grimaced and nudged his glass toward Jenny.
"I thought you weren't desperate."
"I'm not. I'm scared."
"All right," she laughed. "Free refill. After you pull it off."
Walker took a deep breath and turned with a grin to meet the harmless-looking white-haired woman. "Well, if it isn't my favorite landlord. Hey there, Miss Rayleen."
"Turn back around, Walker," she snapped. "I wasn't finished looking at your ass."
"I'd think you'd have it all mapped out by now. You look often enough."
"There's no such thing as enough when it comes to a fine piece of tush, fool."
"Why, thank you, ma'am." His smile came more easily now. He really did love this menace of a woman. "I was just asking Jenny here where you were hiding."
Rayleen raised a silver eyebrow and settled into her normal seat at a table at the corner of the bar. "You finally decided to up your cougar game? Ten-year age difference no longer a challenge?"
Walker felt his cheeks heat a little at that. Was she talking about Nicole? Did everyone know? But he shook it off. She was kidding, and if he didn't want to own up to his actions, then he'd do better to behave well in the first place. "Nope. I wanted to ask about the apartment across from mine. Is it still vacant?"
Her eyes narrowed. "Maybe. Why?"
"My old friend Charlie is looking for a place."
"Hmph. Just how old a friend is Charlie? Some dried-up cowhand?"
"Nope. My age, give or take."
Her eyes sparked with more interest now. "Yeah? Is he a cowboy?"
"No. More of a security expert, I believe. Works at a resort."
She stuck a cigarette between her lips and let it dangle there. He'd never actually seen her smoke one. She just liked having them on hand, apparently. Her gaze darted down his body and then back up. "How tall is he?" The cigarette bobbed.
Walker cleared his throat and shifted. "Aw, hell, Rayleen. I don't know. Shorter than I am."
Everyone knew Rayleen liked a lot of eye candy hanging around. Walker didn't care. He was just happy for the chance to get a decent place at a decent price. And he could use her fondness for his ass to his advantage now. "I have heard the word 'cute' bandied about on occasion."
"Oh, yeah? Well, then." She shuffled a pack of cards with a flourish and started dealing out her first solitaire game of the day. "That snowboarding instructor I'd hoped to rent to broke his damn leg or something. Won't be here this season. A shame. He was almost as big as you. Not sure about this whole cute thing."
Walker shot Jenny a look and she made a hurry-up motion with her hands.
"Well," he tried again. "I've known Charlie a long time. Since high school."
Walker rolled his shoulders. This was it. "Charlie Allington. You know the Allingtons?"
She shrugged. Charlie had left town for college, so she might never have been around after reaching legal drinking age.
"Charlie's one of Nate's cousins," he clarified.
Rayleen made a noncommittal noise, but she liked Nate. Maybe that would work in their favor. Rayleen flipped over another card. Jenny hovered close by, rubbing a slow circle into the bar with a rag.
Finally Rayleen shrugged. "All right. I am getting a little tired of these seasonal workers. That last one really tore up my wood floors. What the hell was he doing in there? Playing hockey?"
He shook his head sympathetically. They'd all had to listen to Rayleen complain about refinishing those floors, but he'd heard the real reason for her anger was that the kid had called Rayleen a nasty old bitch when she'd kept his security deposit. Walker shook his head at that. What kind of punk would say something like that to a woman?
She flipped another card. "How long does he want to rent the place?"
Walker met Jenny's eyes. "Through the winter?" She nodded.
"So he'd be up for a six-month lease?" Rayleen asked.
"I'm not sure. Probably."
"Okay. Tell him to come on by. No pets. No water beds. A month's rent as a security deposit up front. If I like the looks of him, I'll offer a six-month lease. If I don't, it'll be month to month and he can get gone before the skiing starts."
"Thanks, Miss Rayleen."
She shrugged. "I ain't doing anyone any favors. I'm just looking to fill in the next couple months of dead time before the season."
"Aw, you're sweeter than you let on."
She snorted. "Not hardly, boy."
Shit. "Here's the thing ."
The cigarette went still between her lips and her eyes rose to meet his with a hard gaze. "What?"
Walker glanced at Jenny, who shook her head, but Rayleen would find out sooner than later, and his mama hadn't raised him to lie to old ladies. "My old friend Charlie? Charlie is actually short for Charlotte."
"Charlotte?" She cackled. "What kind of a name is that for a.. " The amusement left her face and was quickly replaced with tight anger. "No," she said firmly. "No, sir. I don't care how fine your behind is in those jeans, I ain't letting one of your floozies move in here."
"She's not one of my floozies! I haven't seen her since high school!" He frowned at his beer and muttered, "Not that I have floozies."
Rayleen snorted. "I said no, and that's that."
"Come on. Charlie is a great girl. And she'll take good care of the apartment, not like some twenty-something snowboarder looking for a place to party with his friends."
"He's right," Jenny finally jumped in. "The last two seasonal renters were a nightmare. And you say all the time how disgusting men are."
"Hmph." She took up her cards again. "They are disgusting. And idiotic. That's why I don't keep any in my own house. But they're nice from a distance."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
~Reviewed by ANGELA & posted at Under the Covers Book Blog I love it when an author writes of sexy hero but not perfect by the least, it just makes him so believable. Ms. Dahl made Walker Pearce just to be that! Walker is one of the sexy cowboys living in an apartment complex in Jackson Town aka the "stud farm". As sexy as he is, he is nothing close to being perfect. Living as a true Cowboy, he works the ranch and occasionally using his "charm" as a part of his job. And as far as he knows, that's as far as his ability can go. But Charlie, who Walker went to high school with, knows he can be so much more. For reasons she can't figure out, he is purposely holding himself back from any opportunities. Charlie is determined to push him and show him that he is so much more...and that's while trying to get her own problems solved. I love Walker and Charlie's love story. I can never tire of reading about two adults trying to find their place in life. After meeting Walker in Too Hot to Handle, I was definitely intrigued. Descriptions like "Seriously. He looks...Big", "..damn good cowboy", and the fact that he is a big flirt and damn good dancer just made my knees weak. But all in all, I'm actually glad this "manwhore" is more than meets the eye. Meeting Charlie again was definitely a blessing. Walker needs a woman of substance and ambitious but yet grounded as he is. It's not funny but, Charlie seemed to get herself in sticky situations. Finding Walker again actually gives her a bit of clarity of making the right decisions for herself. Charlie and Walker were a good fit indeed, and their story was certainly sweet. Ms. Dahl gave Walker and Charlie a story one of hope, love and second chances. She also never fails to deliver steamy scenes that will leave you panting for the next page. Ms. Dahl is definitely the go-to-author if you're in the mood for a hot contemporary read. *ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
In So Tough to Tame (Jackson #3) by Victoria Dahl, Charlotte "Charlie" Allington learned a tough lesson at her previous job: the only person she can trust is herself. So she travels back to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, her hometown, for a security specialist job at a new resort. Charlie hopes to reinvent herself after the catastrophe she just had to fight her way through. The biggest plus about her new apartment at the so-called Stud Farm is her childhood friend Walker Pearce lives just across the hall and he's just as handsome and charming as ever. Walker was always popular with the ladies and it seems like he still isn't the type to settle down. That's alright, because Charlie's up for some fun with the rugged cowboy. She had a crush on him in high school and it will be fun to see if he lives up to her fantasies. Charlie is having the time of her life until secrets from her and Walker's pasts interfere. Her world gets turned upside-down and she has to make some tough decisions about her life and especially about who she can trust. Cowboy Walker Pearce can't believe his luck when Charlie moves in across the hall. He always thought she was cute in high school but was way out of his league. Now is his chance to have a good time with her, as is his usual M.O. Yet somehow a casual fling doesn't sound as enticing as it once did. Walker is shocked to find that Charlie makes him want to look at his life and possibly make some changes that he thought would never happen in a million years. But the more he analyzes it, the more upset it makes him. Should he change his ways for the sassy brunette? Victoria Dahl has written another incredibly hot and heavy novel in the Jackson series. So Tough to Tame tells Charlie and Walker's story, but we also get to catch up with our favorite characters from the first two books as well. One of mine is Rayleen...and let me tell you, she's just as hilarious and tough-as-nails as ever! Book three continues with the tradition of sexy cowboys, sassy independent ladies and naughty dialogue. I thought the pace of the story was perfect. And there was a little bit of a mystery going on as well to keep the reader interested in the plotline. Charlie and Walker were so, so, so very good together. He remembered her as the sweet, good girl who helped him in school and wasn't expecting to find a sexy, flirtatious woman instead. Charlie thought she knew what she was getting into, having a fling with him, but she didn't expect to want anything further. I loved the funny, raunchy dialogue between them and whew...the love scenes were beyond hot. If you like your Contemporary Romance deliciously hot, definitely check out So Tough to Tame. What a fun ride!
Reeling from a scandal that's burned nearly all her bridges, Charlie Allington returns to her small hometown in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to figure out what to do. Working for a new resort in town isn't her dream job, but she's out of options. The only upside is her neighbor and childhood friend, Walker Pearce. The sexy cowboy has his own shame and past he's trying to overcome, but if they own up to their mistakes and learn to be honest with each other, they may just find what they've been looking for…in each other. I'm ashamed to admit this is my first Dahl novel. This was sexy, flirty and fun, with a deep undercurrent that's often difficult to pull off. My only quirk is I feel the conflict dragged toward the end of the book, but that was rectified and didn't keep me from reading. The plot, secondary characters, setting, and antagonists were well placed and added to the story nicely. The romance was hot. I won't hesitate to read future books. Great writing style.
Not my favorite of this series. Charlie has come back to Jackson Hole after working for several years in Tahoe. Unfortunately, while she was there she got caught in the middle of some illegal dealings, then discovered that the man she thought she loved was married and setting her up to take the fall. While cleared of any illegal doing, her reputation is toast and the best she can do is working for an old high school classmate. The working conditions aren't great, but at least she has a job. Walker is also dealing with work related issues. He was working at a local dude ranch when the boss's wife went too far in her pursuit of him. He likes women a lot, and is well-known for giving them pleasure, but messing with a married woman didn't feel right. However, the boss took a dim view of the rumors and fired him. He's having a hard time finding a new job because no boss wants to hire a man he can't trust around his woman. It doesn't help that he's got issues that limit the kinds of jobs he can get anyway. When they were in high school, Walker and Charlie were friends, as well as Charlie being Walker's tutor. Charlie had a crush on Walker, but he was the school's hottest guy and she was a nerd. Strangely enough, Walker had a crush on her, but felt that he was too stupid to look at a girl like her. When they meet again as adults there is immediate and overwhelming attraction. This is where it starts to fall apart for me. They can't keep their hands off each other and go at it whenever they are together. Every time one of them starts asking uncomfortable questions or says something they don't want to talk about, the other immediately tries to distract with sex. They appear to be growing closer, with both of them discovering that interest in other people is becoming non-existent. Unfortunately, neither of them is really sharing what is most important. There were things I liked about Charlie. I liked the way she is doing what she needs to do to start over. She is working really hard at the new job, even putting up with the crap that her boss is dishing out. I also loved her relationship with the irascible Rayleen. Instead of being offended by the woman's treatment of men and the hard time she gives Charlie herself, she is completely amused by her. However, as Charlie got closer to Walker, I didn't like that she never told him what she had gone through before she came home. I also didn't like the way that she was constantly nagging at him to apply for jobs other than ranch hand, even though he told her to stop. I wasn't at all surprised that her lack of honesty with him came back to bite her when he did find out. There were also things I liked about Walker. He's is a really nice guy at heart. He may sleep with a lot of women, but he treats them well while he's doing it. He doesn't cheat on them, and is clear that he doesn't do commitment. He also has a fantastic relationship with his brother, who is about as different from Walker as a brother can be. And I really loved seeing him with kids. He never had any trouble relating to kids, even the handicapped ones. I didn't like the way that he was always so down on himself. Yes, he's dyslexic, which caused him great problems at school and with his father. But he refuses to listen to anyone who tries to tell him that he is capable of far more than he believes. I had a hard time believing in a romance between Walker and Charlie because they frequently didn't seem to actually hear what the other on
Such good reading. A cowboy, Walker and a security expert, Charlie(alias Charlotte) meet then watch the sexual chemistry fly. They grew up together, so when they meet up 12 years later they catch up with each other. Between finding out her bosses are embezzling money and plan to use her as the scapegoat, to helping Walker find a job he loves to do so much happening this book was hard to put down. At the end they both find out what love is. Very good reading. I thoroughly enjoy reading Victoria Dahls books.
Love this author and love her series!!
Sorry i am dating somebody else. :(