Veteran Silhouette author Annette Broadrick begins with an interesting idea in her latest book, Too Tough to Tame. One-dimensional characters keep the interesting idea from developing into a compelling story.
Businessman Dominic (Nick) Chakaris learns that he is the subject of a rather unflattering painting; as he explains, “the portrait portrays me as hard and ruthless, a predator ready to pounce on some unsuspecting prey.” Nick’s investigation uncovers the name and background of the artist, Kelly Anne MacLeod. While he remembers seeing Kelly at a society party, Nick has never met or spoken with her. He calls Kelly and leaves a message asking her to call him.
Kelly is surprised by the message, but she agrees to meet him at his office for dinner. When she arrives, Kelly describes the painting as “an effort to exorcise my anger at your methods of making money. . . . the portrait was an effort to deal with some of my anger and hatred of you.” Nick discovers that his company, DCA Industries, bought out the family-owned business from Kelly’s father. Kelly now believes this sale led to the deaths of her father and mother: “[Nick’s] ruthless regard . . . was responsible for Dad’s losing the business and worrying himself into a heart attack. And then mother lost the will to live.”
During the dinner appointment, Nick reviews the business file about her father’s company and shares the details with Kelly. The business had been steadily losing money for five years and was, in fact, “no more than one month away from shutting its doors” before Nick’s involvement. While this information proves that Nick had no part in the loss of her father’s company, Kelly leaves Nick’s office saying that she doesn’t want to see him again.
In spite of (or perhaps because of) Kelly’s spirited exit, Nick is fascinated by her and sets out to woo her. Kelly initially decides to date him because she wants to get information; a friend of hers thinks Nick is planning another family company takeover. As Kelly continues to see Nick, her original purpose is forgotten, and she starts to fall in love with him.
While I was intrigued by the way the painting brought Nick and Kelly together, the rest of Too Tough to Tame is both tame and conventional. Using conventional aspects doesn’t automatically create problems in a story, but this combined with a bland hero and heroine ensure that this one doesn’t get off the ground. Kelly is beautiful and independent; Nick is a suave business owner. Aside from these facts, the reader doesn’t learn much more about them. They are character sketches rather than fully developed characters, which is surprising in a story with a lot of dialogue. Overall, Broadrick provides enough information to get to the HEA, but not enough to create a meaningful connection.
Broadrick’s writing makes Too Tough to Tame a smooth enough read, but the story isn’t one of her more memorable efforts. Look to her backlist for more engaging books, such as Mystery Lover or That’s What Friends Are For.