A widow before she’s even a bride.

Sarah Prescott came west to marry a man she’d met only through his letters, but when she arrives she discovers that he had suddenly passed away. Stranded, nearly penniless, she can’t just go back east. But what else can she do?

Widowed and without help for his unruly children, Wyatt learns of Sarah’s situation and intends to marry her – in name only – so she could care for his children. A wife wouldn’t be so hasty to give up as had the previous nannies. And by the sound of it, this woman didn’t have anyplace else to go.

But a marriage of convenience soon becomes a major inconvenience, as Wyatt learns that Sarah is not the sweet, submissive woman his first wife had been. She has a mind of her own and quite a temper to boot. How can she teach the children to behave, when she never learned to herself?

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“Are you still hungry,” Wyatt asked as she pushed her plate away. She was stunned to see that she had eaten every bit.

“No, thank you,” she said. It just didn’t seem right to have him waiting on her. She’d come to wait on him! And something about his manner led her to believe he was very angry with her. “I’m sorry,” she apologized quickly. “I won’t sleep so late tomorrow. I’ll be sure to get up in time to make you breakfast.”

He brushed that aside. So that wasn’t the issue. Then he rose, set her plate by the sink and walked out of the kitchen. “Come along now,” he ordered.

She followed him into the parlor. So this was to be a formal discussion. She cleared her throat, her unease growing as he went to turn the key in the lock at the front door. He pulled a chair into the middle of the room. Taking her hand in his, he sat down and tugged her over his lap!

Sarah squealed, shocked at the intimacy. “What are you doing, Mr. Jenkins!” she demanded.

“You aren’t in any position to demand anything of me right now, Mrs. Jenkins,” he growled. Then he brought his hand down hard.

She felt the blow and the next one, even though he spanked her over her dress and petticoat. The fabric was thin and worn. She might as well have been wearing nothing. The embarrassment brought tears to her eyes, which angered her more than it hurt. “Let me go at once!”

“I mean to start out just the way we’re going to live. I demand respect from my children, my employees, and my wife!”

“Don’t tell me you spank your employees,” Sarah blurted, struggling to break free from the steel hold he had on her.

“Of course not. I’d fire them. But I’ll tan the hide of any youngster who talks to me the way you did. How can I teach them respect in the face of your own rudeness!