Review – So Tough to Tame by Victoria Dahl

I got home yesterday from an epic trip to Las Vegas with some other book bloggers.  After three days of fascinating conversation, champagne, and the weirdest hotel room bathroom I’ve ever seen, it feels rather strange to be home (but good, of course).  I learned many things this weekend, including:

  1. Some women really will wear skirts so short that they can neither sit nor walk nor dance nor bend in any way without utterly exposing their ass cheeks and lady parts.  Further, they might even think they look sexy while perched awkwardly on freaky heels, adjusting their skirts every few seconds.  What is interesting to me is that I simultaneously felt a fun mix of disdain and pity for these women and a hearty, self-inflicted dose of sartorial inadequacy.
  2. 2013-10-12 14.29.32These shoes exist; they aren’t as high priced as I would have expected; and (thank God) they don’t come in my size.
  3. I really do need to read Gone with the Wind and quick.
  4. It is an amazing, sharpening experience to talk about books with women who write about books.
  5. It is past time for me to catch up on my review backlog.

Without further ado, then…

Cover image, So Tough to Tame by Victoria Dahl

The publisher’s blurb, courtesy of Goodreads:

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?

I read So Tough to Tame two months ago, enjoyed it, and fully expected to have a review up in a much more timely manner, but I had a hard time writing about it, and I’m still not completely sure why.

Dahl’s writing is fun and sharp and quick (and velvety), and I enjoy the hell out of her books.  Part of what I love so much is that she’s writing these edgy, contemporary romances in an unlikely setting.  Who would expect a book that dips its toe in hookup culture to be set in Jackson Hole with a cowboy hero?  I love it!  When I pick up Dahl’s books, I keep expecting — based on the setting and my limited experience of Rocky Mountain geography and culture — an All American Romance complete with a rugged cowboy hero who has no use for love, a down-on-her-luck heroine who makes a fine cup of coffee and somehow finds herself stranded on his ranch, and, eventually, a baby.  But Dahl isn’t writing a western romance.  So Tough to Tame is contemporary through and through.

The contemporary voice really comes through with Charlie’s character.  She’s set up as a fairly classic smart/good girl character.  She did well in school, made all the right choices in high school, tutored Walker, and was not overtly sexual in her girlhood, but (as an adult) instead of her possessing the passive attitude toward sexuality that I was culturally trained to expect from a smart/good girl character, one whose sexuality would typically be nurtured into a full flowering (if you’ll pardon the pun) by Walker, Charlie is confident in and aware of her own sexuality from the start.

I can’t decide whether it’s more remarkable that Charlie’s approach to sexual encounters with Walker is so straightforward or that I still find that approach remarkable in this day and age.  I honestly don’t know.  The vast majority of the romance novels that I read feature heroines who discover their sexuality and enjoyment of sex through their encounters with the hero.  (Caveat: that last sentence is not scientific evidence that proves any point, of course. I haven’t read all the books, and it’s possible that my brain is conveniently forgetting all those torrid novels featuring heroines who know what they want — and how to get it — out of sexual encounters.)  I just thought it was an interesting enough point to provoke a tangent.

In most romance novels, when the hero and heroine get down to business, it’s accurate to say they’re in a “sexual relationship.”  Frequently, it is that sexual relationship that furthers the characters’ intimacy and pushes them towards “falling in love.”  The term “sexual relationship” doesn’t really apply to this book, however.  Charlie and Walker enter fairly quickly into a series of sexual encounters, but their relationship is furthered more by their developing friendship than their physical intimacy.  I found that rather interesting and refreshing.

I have (somewhat inadvertently) focused on sex in this review, but there’s a lot more to the book than smokin’ hot love scenes.  So Tough to Tame has sharp humor, a spunky old-lady character, interesting family dynamics, a cleverly-written redemption story line, an interesting dialogue on the shaming of women who embrace their sexuality, and, of course, smokin’ hot love scenes.

And it has Walker.  He’s pretty great, too.

So Tough to Tame was released on September 24, 2013 as an e-book and paperback by Harlequin HQN.  To learn more about the book, click on the cover image above to visit its page on Goodreads. To learn more about Victoria Dahl, check out her website or Twitter.

*FTC Disclosure – I received an e-galley from Harlequin via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*


7 thoughts on “Review – So Tough to Tame by Victoria Dahl

  1. The dino shoes! They actually look a lot better in the photograph than they did in person.

    I’ve never read Victoria Dahl. I’m like, “That sounds really good,” and then never follow through. I do have one of her books to read, though. Some day…

  2. Yes, you do need to read Gone with the Wind. And we need to come up with a title for our fan fiction! It was so great meeting all of you! I am still in shock over some of those outfits, though — I am hoping for a reverse in trend before my little one goes to college!

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