Tall, Dark and Daring

ISBN: 9781460371626

Harlequin Temptation Heat #897
October 2002
Reissued March 2014 in eBook format

Her dareTessa O’Neal has taken on her sexy old flame, Mitch Ryder, as a client. That means she has to spend the next seven days in this man’s constant company and not fall into his bed. No problem. They may have once set the sheets on fire but she can definitely resist him. After all, that was then, this is now and she got him out of her system long ago.

His challenge

Mitch has never forgotten the passionate time he spent with Tessa. And he wants to relive it. So before the week is up, he’s going to use every sensual secret he knows to seduce her back into his arms. But their hot embraces are more powerful than ever and now they’ll have to decide if they’re daring enough to extend their week…

Winner of the 2003 Beacon Award for Short Contemporary Romance

View the Discussion Guide


“Sexy, fun and yet emotionally satisfying, Joanne Rock’s newest is a terrific reunion romance.” — Romantic Times, 4 stars

“Author Joanne Rock sets off an inferno when she reunites old flames in Tall, Dark and Daring…the author’s savvy understanding of the need for compromise in modern relationships makes the novel sparkle…” — Word Weaving

“Joanne Rock does a wonderful job building her characters and creating a dreamy setting…” — Romance Reader’s Connection


“What will it be, Tessa? Truth or dare?”

Tessa O’Neal tossed back another Jell-O shot, the South Beach sunset twinkling rainbows through her thick crimson drink. How could she live in this paradise full of gorgeous men and still end up playing adolescent games with her girlfriend on a Friday night?

“Truth,” she answered, loud enough for Ines to hear over the salsa music and happy hour crowd at the open-air bar on Ocean Drive. Forget the dare. Ines would think of something really embarrassing for her to do.

Ines Cordova’s arm full of silver bracelets jangled as she waggled a chiding finger at Tessa. Ines was more than Tessa’s boss at Westwood Marketing. The two of them had been friends since Tessa was a freshman in college and Ines had been a grad student.

“That is your third truth in row, chica. I remember a time when you did not always run from a dare.”

Tessa started to shake her head, then stopped when the thrum in her temples informed her she’d almost reached her Jell-O shot quota. “Let’s not go there.”

Tessa wouldn’t be sitting around getting toasted if she hadn’t had a colossally bad day. She’d planned this night out with Ines weeks ago as sort of a last hurrah before Tessa left Westwood to start her own business.

But the night had taken a decidedly glum turn since Tessa ended up breaking off an engagement to a perfectly great guy. What had she been thinking to give him his ring back just because he didn’t leave her breathless every time he walked in a room like a certain guy she’d dated so many years ago?

She definitely didn’t need to go there.

Where was the waiter with those shots?

“Now is the ideal time to go there.” Ines shoved the plate of nachos they were sharing in Tessa’s direction. “You say you do not know why you broke things off with Rob, but you do. The man is as much fun as a surfboard in Kansas, querida, and he is all wrong for you.”

“He’s reliable, and responsible, and he’s a grown up.” Unlike others she’d dated, especially one playful hunk she wouldn’t forget even with a truckload of Jell-O shots.

Ines shook her head. Her long earrings hopped back and forth over her bare shoulders. “You need a man with a sense of adventure to match your own.”

Tessa leaned across the table, hoping to make her point. “I’ve outgrown my sense of adventure, Ines. Maybe racking up one divorce and one broken engagement in five years has sapped it all. But I don’t have any desire to dance on the table with a rose between my teeth or start a bunny hop chain through the bar. It’s not me.” She pulled off the cheesiest nacho on the plate and crunched a big bite.

Ines scowled. “It was not the bunny hop, it was the locomotion, Tessa, and everyone had a blast.”

Mouth full, Tessa shrugged.

“So you’ll take a truth over a dare?” Ines asked, crossing her braceleted arms.

“Any day.” She’d much rather reveal some inane secret of her past than sing a chorus of “It’s Raining Men“ out on the strip.

Ines smiled. “Remember, you have to tell the truth.”

Tessa sighed. “I hope you don’t expect me to cross my heart and stick a needle in my eye and all that.”

“I trust you. You still want to take the truth?”

“Sometime today. Yes.” Tessa stared down at her empty ring finger where Rob’s engagement diamond had rested just this morning.

“Are you still in love with Mitch Ryder?”

The name blasted away all thoughts of Rob and his ring.

Mitch Ryder. The first man she’d ever been with. The man she couldn’t help but compare all others to.

The wretch who’d ditched her to travel the world with a snowboarding team.

Her foggy brain realized she was taking too long to answer. “What kind of question is that?”

“It’s the kind I want an answer to,” Ines replied as she waved away their waiter.

“I can’t answer that,“ Tessa returned, indignant on her own behalf. “That was eight years ago!” She waved the waiter back and ordered another round. She refused to make this a night of sappy regrets.

Ines leaned across the table when their server left. “Then you have to take a double dare.”

“Fine.” She was too annoyed to care about the consequences of a double dare.

Of course, she most certainly was not still hung up on Mitch Ryder. She’d had one husband and one fianc