Born into a sprawling ranching family, rugged Harden Tremayne was the toughest, wildest man ever to come out of Texas cattle country. And the loneliest. Until he met Miranda Warren, the lovely Chicago widow who aroused feelings too long denied--and a yearning for something that could never be his....
Miranda had never felt anything as overwhelming as her passion for the long, lean cowboy. But was her love enough to melt his hard, hungry heart and help them make a new life--together?
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April 01, 2011
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Excerpt from Harden by Diana Palmer
The bar wasn't crowded. Harden wished it had been, so that he could have blended in better. He was the only customer in boots and a Stetson, even if he was wearing an expensive gray suit with them. But the thing was, he stood out, and he didn't want to.
A beef producers' conference was being held at this uptown hotel in Chicago, where he'd booked a luxury suite for the duration. He was giving a workshop on an improved method of crossbreeding. Not that he'd wanted to; his brother Evan had volunteered him, and it had been too late to back out by the time Harden found out. Of his three brothers, Evan was the one he was closest to. Under the other man's good-natured kidding was a temper even hotter than Harden's and a ferocity of spirit that made him a keen ally.
Harden sipped his drink, feeling his aloneness keenly. He didn't fit in well with most people. Even his in-laws found him particularly disturbing as a dinner companion, and he knew it. Sometimes it was difficult just to get through the day. He felt incomplete; as if something crucial was missing in his life. He'd come down here to the lounge to get his mind off the emptiness. But he felt even more alone as he looked around him at the laughing, happy couples who filled the room.
His flinty pale blue eyes glittered at an older woman nearby making a play for a man. Same old story. Bored housewife, handsome stranger, a one-night fling. His own mother could have written a book on that subject. He was the result of her amorous fling, the only outsider in a family of four boys.
Everybody knew Harden was illegitimate. It didn't bother him so much anymore, but his hatred of the female sex, like his contempt for his mother, had never dwindled. And there was another reason, an even more painful one, why he could never forgive his mother. It was much more damning than the fact of his illegitimacy, and he pushed the thought of it to the back of his mind. Years had passed, but the memory still cut like a sharp knife. It was why he hadn't married. It was why he probably never would.
Two of his brothers were married. Donald, the youngest Tremayne, had succumbed four years ago. Connal had given in last year. Evan was still single. He and Harden were the only bachelors left. Theodora, their mother, did her best to throw eligible women at them. Evan enjoyed them. Harden did not. He had no use for women these days. At one time, he'd even considered becoming a minister. That had gone the way of most boyish dreams. He was a man now, and had his share of responsibility for the Tremayne ranch. Besides, he'd never really felt the calling for the cloth. Or for anything else.