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 welcome.
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?
This blurb came from the author’s website.
Reading Dahl’s tweeted excerpts about Walker and Charlie as she was finishing up the editing process reminded me that it had been far too long since I experienced a Dahl. This meant I made a point to request So Tough to Tame when I saw it was available. One of the things I enjoy about her writing is that she writes flawed characters. I don’t always agree with their decisions and choices and sometimes find myself wincing in anticipation of the results. But I keep reading because I know Dahl will make them work through whatever happens and I will be very satisfied with their character growth when they finally achieve their HEA. I am pleased to say that Dahl continued to provide me with that satisfaction.
Charlie was struggling. She came from a messed up family and had dreams of becoming a small town girl who made it in the big city. She was well on her way when she trusted the wrong person and was accused of doing several things that ruined her career. She was lucky enough to find a job working for an old high school friend but quickly discovered that rumors about her had made the rounds of her home town as well. Not to mention there were some unpleasant aspects of her new job, namely the owners of the new resort, her high school friend Dawn, and Dawn’s husband Keith. On the other hand, she was now living in close proximity to her high school crush who was finally noticing her.
Walker had pretty much resigned himself to life as a cowboy. Growing up with a learning disability his father had verbally and physically abused him for being “stupid” to the point that he had given up on all thoughts of continuing his education. He was good at being a cowboy, didn’t mind being out in the elements, liked animals, enjoyed flirting with women, and was usually liked by them as well. This particular year however, Walker was worried. He had just lost his job and was afraid it was because he had been flirting with the boss’ wife. If that was the case and word got around, he was going to have a really hard time finding a job to take him through the winter. Then Charlie moved back into town and things started looking a bit better.
I had so much fun reading Charlie and Walker’s interactions. They flirted, joked, teased, and had some smoking hot sexy times. Yet, they also kept secrets from each other, which required some sort of a fix before they could settle down. Walker avoided several different subjects including the issue with his former boss’ wife, his feelings about his father, and how he really felt about his learning disability. Charlie on the other hand decided not to mention anything to him about why she came back to her hometown or any of the weird things happening at her new job. Dahl did such a great job establishing their personalities that I could completely understand why even when I suspected the things left unsaid had the potential to derail their relationship. I enjoyed how Dahl kept me guessing about who was involved in what particular scheme and if there was a connection to Charlie or Walker at all.
I also liked the supporting cast and their quirks and foibles. Rayleen was my absolute favorite and watching her life change was very touching. It was interesting to see the variety that populated the town and how memories of the past both colored and shaped the present but not always in the way people expected. Some people had broken free of their past, others let it define them and still others made the decision to change their ways. Having all three stages included really fleshed out the setting and made the characters come to life.
Dahl did not shy away from the grittiness that is life in So Tough to Tame. She put both Charlie and Walker through the grinder but it was also evident to see that they were dealing with the consequences of earlier choices. They had to decide to start taking a different path or continue down the one that led to their circumstances at the beginning of this story. I absolutely loved how they decided to veer away from the known and comfortable to take a chance on something different. The fact that each person did it for himself or herself, not for the other person made their individual decisions all the more potent. I enjoyed reading So Tough to Tame and when I was finished kicked myself for waiting so long between stories by Dahl.
I give So Tough to Tame a B+
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