Title: Better To Marry Than To Burn
Author: Michal Scott
Genre: Erotic Historical
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Freed Man seeking woman to partner in marriage for at least two years in the black township of Douglass, Texas. Must be willing and able to help establish a legacy. Marital relations as necessary. Love neither required nor sought.
Caesar King's ad for a mail-order bride is an answer to Queen Esther Payne’s prayer. Her family expects her to adhere to society's traditional conventions of submissive wife and mother, but Queen refuses. She is not the weaker sex and will not allow herself to be used, abused or turned into a baby-making machine under the sanctity of matrimony. Grateful that love is neither required nor sought, she accepts the ex-slave's offer and heads West for marriage on her terms. Her education and breeding will see to that. However, once she meets Caesar, his unexpected allure and intriguing wit makes it hard to keep love at bay. How can she hope to remain her own woman when victory may be synonymous with surrender?
Queen Esther Payne arrived at noon on September 14th and proved to be a paragon indeed.
Caesar gawked at the copper-toned Amazon who emerged from the stagecoach like royalty descending from a throne.
Queen. Her name definitely suited. Only Cleopatra could have fit better. Maybe Sheba.
The afternoon sunlight crowned her with rays of gold. Kinky black ringlets covered her head, declaring she had a Nubian pride befitting the woman he’d want to wed. She used her bonnet to fan away dirt dusted up by the stagecoach’s departure. Her twisting and turning revealed an hourglass waist above curvaceous hips.
At his approach, her eyebrow curved over a gaze brimming with criticism.
He removed his hat and extended his hand in greeting. “At your service, Queen.”
She donned her hat and examined him with that regal air.
“Miss Payne, if you please. You may call me Queen after the nuptials.” She finished tying her hat’s long ribbons beneath her chin. “Although, even then, I’d prefer Mrs. King.”
“You don’t say?” He chuckled, taking her measure from head to foot. “Well, Miss Payne it is…for now.”
She filled her face with a frown. “I don’t appreciate being examined like some newly purchased cow, Mr. King.”
He pulled back. Amusement wrestled with annoyance. “I’m making sure you measure up, Miss Payne.”
“Pray to what criteria? I doubt there’s a standard for marriages of convenience.”
She shoved her valise against his chest then crossed her arms, causing her lovely bosom to swell.
He inhaled against the pull of desire throbbing in his privates. “The same criteria as you I suspect: my own self-worth and what I deserve.” He dropped the bag at her feet. “So, by that token, I don’t appreciate being treated like some fetch-and-carry boy.”
She lowered her gaze. But for the set of her jaw he’d have taken the gesture for apology.
He leaned forward and whispered, “If you ask me nicely, I’d gladly carry your bag.”
“A gentleman wouldn’t need to be asked.” Her tone dripped with disdain. “A gentleman would simply take it.”
“I do many things, Miss Payne.” He pushed up the brim of his hat and grinned, fired up by the hazel flame sparking in her eyes. “Pretending to be a gentleman doesn’t number among them.”
She firmed her full lips into a thin angry line. “But you do aspire to establish a legacy—like a gentleman would.”
“If marrying you to leave a legacy makes me a gentlemen, then I must agree. Although, your letter made it clear you weren’t looking for a gentleman. In fact, if you had your way, you wouldn’t be looking for a man at all…gentlemanly or otherwise.”
She responded with a slight rise in her eyebrows.
He thumbed over his shoulder. “Our marriage carriage awaits.”
He sauntered toward his wagon, not surprised to find when he looked back, her highness hadn’t moved. But uncertainty colored her imperiousness and rippled in her frown.
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Born and bred in Brooklyn, Michal is a retired protestant minister, recently relocated to New Mexico. She has been writing professionally since 2003 and had her first romance published in 2008. History has been an old passion of hers. Romance a recent one. The opportunity to combine the two came in the 2016 publication of her novella, One Breath Away. Better To Marry Than To Burn has solidified the union. She also writes inspirational romance as Anna Taylor and gothic romance as Anna M. Taylor.
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