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I promised you more sexy cowboy action yesterday, I am not a woman to wave a sexy cowboy in anybody's face and not follow through. Either figuratively or literally. So today, P is for Patty Devlin, another of the fantastic authors behind the Sons of Johnny Hastings boxset.
|Looks like you may have forgotten your shirt there, lawman,|
Don't worry, though. It's fine.
Celia Whitman arrives in town as the new schoolteacher having managed to secure the position by conveniently forgetting to mention her sex when she sent in her application. Which is unfortunate given that the position was clearly only open to male applicants. The school board are adamant that their frontier town is no place for a single lady but give her an alternative to being sent home on the next train: marry one of their local bachelors to ensure the protection of a husband.
And luckily for us, the sexy alpha lawman is just the man for the job. I absolutely love this set up. A forced marriage is a great way to throw two heroes together. It's often used to great effect in medieval romances but difficult to pull off in other time periods.
Patty Devlin finds a way to make this happen in a totally credible way. It makes sense for Celia to accept the condition, it makes sense for Jackson to agree to it and it makes sense (in an old-fashioned sexist kind of a way) for the school board to insist upon in it in the first place. So we have two people who barely know another joined together in holy matrimony and having to make the best of it. And although Jackson is going to insist on disciplining his new wife from day one, he is far too much of a gentleman to insist on other intimate husbandly duties. Which of course makes it all the sweeter when this finally happens...
She timidly kissed his chin. “Jackson, could you—would you... make me your wife for real?”
She was pretty sure it was a groan, the guttural sound that came from deep within his chest. He pushed her away and looked down at her face, staring at her hard. He still looked angry, or in pain.
“Woman, you know what you’re asking for?” It sounded like it hurt for him to talk. Did she know what she asked? No, but she wanted to be his. Wholly his, totally and completely his. She trusted him to know her.
“Yes, I love you. I've never loved anybody before. I've never been loved or cared for the way that you care for me. I want to give myself to you, Jackson.”
It was a groan, a roar, something animalistic as he scooped her up and strode to the bedroom. He deposited her on her feet in front of the bed and his nimble fingers went right to work on the buttons at her neck.
“Are you absolutely sure, Cecelia? Once you give yourself to me, you can’t take it back. I’m a possessive man. I make no apologies.”
|How did they decide which couple got to go on the front of the box, do you think? |
I'm guessing all the cowboys arm-wrestled. Shirtless.
Choose one of the two men, or take the return ticket and head home. It wasn’t much of a choice. Celia had worked and studied so hard to have a school of her own. And she had known that they might be a little upset. She knew exactly what they had wanted. It was stated very clearly in the advertisement and she could probably read and write better than anyone one of them.
Jackson sure never planned to marry, and how could he when his name would be a disgrace to his bride? So why had he fought so hard to keep her from marrying the other man? He could have shrugged it off and gotten out of there, but he just couldn’t do it. The new school teacher needed someone who would stay on her tail and teach her a lesson or else she’d run right into danger.
But, he’d have to be honest with her and tell her about that no good scoundrel who had sired him. She at least had a right to know he was a bas—illegitimate, that the man who fathered him had left his mother alone to fend for herself. Then if Celia could handle that, well, they could work the rest out. Besides, there weren’t any other good choices and she simply couldn’t be without a husband.
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