Grace: The Marriage Market by Stevie MacFarlane
Grace Wentworth and Effie Lane were cautiously optimistic when their dear friend Amelia decided to travel west to become the bride of a man she'd never met. Despite their misgivings they were stunned when Amelia wrote informing them she'd made a dreadful mistake in marrying Mr. Jordon.
Determined to rescue her dear friend from the clutches of a scoundrel, Effie made plans to leave for Seattle immediately. Grace would follow when she could get away from the ever watchful eye of her mother. Everything changed when Grace was forced to accept the proposal of a cruel and violent man. Suddenly her mother's wrath could not compare with what she would face as Horace Remington’s wife. Throwing all caution aside, she fled with Effie even knowing her mother would most likely hire a Pinkerton man to find her. However, she never expected to fall for him as they played a game of cat and mouse from Chicago to Seattle.
For Jonah Blackthorn, apprehending a runaway socialite seemed like an easy assignment. Locating two young, inexperienced women would take him no time at all and the five thousand dollar reward offered by the frantic fiancé would go a long way as Jonah had plans to leave the agency to begin a new chapter in his life.
What he didn't plan on was being outwitted by the brats or the fact that Effie Lane wasn't relying on her wits alone to get them safely to Seattle. He also didn't expect to come to care for the redhead traveling with her gun-toting friend. When he finally caught up with them he was going to give Grace the spanking of a life time or kiss her senseless. Maybe both.
Flipping onto her back she stared at the canopy over her bed and thought about the letter Effie received from Samuel Jordon. Apparently, men in the west had not caught up with what was considered acceptable in the east. Was Amelia’s husband spanking her, Grace wondered with a shiver? Was corporal punishment the normal way to deal with marital differences? Why did that thought both appall and intrigue her? The knock on her door startled her, but she called out in answer.
“Wear the blue dress for dinner tonight, Grace,” her mother instructed as she sailed in. “We’re having guests.”
“Horace Remington and his mother,” Beatrice Wentworth replied.
“The Lecher,” Grace mumbled under her breath.
“Nothing mother,” Grace sighed. “I’ll wear the blue one.”
“Thank you dear. Are you unwell?” Beatrice moved to the bed and placed the back of her soft hand against Grace’s cheek.
“I’m perfectly fine, mother,” Grace replied sitting up.
“Good. I’d hate for you to become ill and spoil your father’s and my trip. Try to tame your hair too. I want you to make a good impression on our guests.”
“Would you like me to come down naked, so he can inspect the merchandise?”
“Grace, how dare you speak to me that way? I don’t know what’s come over you,” Beatrice gasped, her eyes flashing with indignation.
“I’m sorry mother,” Grace apologized. “I guess I’m just tired.”
“Then take a nap, dear. I want you at your best tonight.”
Grace nodded as her mother left the room. Suddenly five more days seemed like five days too many.
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