Despite her unconventional upbringing — she’d been adopted off the orphan train by the local “madam” — Emma Chalmers was the most prim and proper young lady in all of Whitneyville. Why, she wouldn’t even permit Fulton Whitney to kiss her, and they were practically engaged!
But when Steven Fairfax landed in her home, wounded in an explosion at the town’s raunchiest saloon, his lazy smile made Emma’s blood race. Slowly, Steven stilled her fears with his gentle, insistent caresses…until at last she gave herself unashamedly to the splendid passion that was their destiny. Yet now Emma faced a new terror — for the drifter she loved so desperately was a wanted man, and his past was about to catch up with him!
This book may contain explicit intimate scenes, so if you are not 18+ then I probably wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers.
After finishing ‘Lily and the Major’, I knew I wanted to start Emma’s story ASAP as I wanted to read this one first intentionally but I decided to be a good reader and follow book order. Yet again, the cover drew me in even though it isn’t nothing fancy, but I still found it pretty and pleasing.
“You’d like some soothin’, wouldn’t you, Mr. Fairfax?” she asked in a sympathetic voice. A raw chuckle left his throat as he thought of Emma forcing this poor little minx into a calico dress and an old lady’s snood. “I sure would, Callie,” he answered honestly, “but I’m afraid there’s only one woman I want.” A mischievous grin curved Callie’s mouth. “Miss Emma?” “The same,” Steven admitted with a sigh, “but don’t you tell her. I want this to be our little secret.” Callie sat down in the chair Emma always occupied when she read to him. He found himself missing that redheaded hellcat with a fierce keenness, as though they’d been parted a month instead of a few hours. “She got real upset, Miss Emma did,” Callie confided in a happy whisper, “when I came over here and told her Miss Chloe’d sent me to look after you.” Steven laughed. “Good,” he replied, staring out the window at the sun. It seemed to be immersing itself in the far side of the lake. “I’m making progress.”
She stormed into the room and stood at his bedside, her hands on her hips, her blue eyes shooting sparks. There was a silly grin on his face and he had the audacity to add insult to injury by following that with a yawn. “Deviant!” Emma hissed. “Jealous, Miss Emma?” “Hardly, Mr. Fairfax.” “I think you are,” he countered matter-of-factly. “You’re breathing fire, and Callie’s got to be the reason.”
Emma set the tray across his lap, he made no move to pick up his spoon or fork. “It’s been a long day,” he said with a heavy sigh. “I’m not sure I want to make the effort to eat.” She sank into the chair beside the bed. “But you must eat,” she replied. “You’ll never get your strength back if you don’t.” Steven lifted one shoulder in a dispirited shrug and looked away. After drawing a deep breath and letting it out again, Emma reached for his fork, stabbed a piece of Daisy’s meat pie, with its thick, flaky crust, and raised it to Steven’s lips. He smiled wanly and allowed her to feed him. In fact, it seemed to Emma that he was enjoying this particular moment of incapacity. The experience was oddly sensual for Emma; she found herself getting lost in the graceful mechanics of it. When Steven grasped her hand, very gently, and lightly kissed her palm, the fork slipped from her fingers and clattered to the tray. Her breasts swelled as she drew in a quick, fevered breath. Steven trailed his lips over the delicate flesh on the inner side of her forearm until he reached her elbow. When his tongue touched her at the crux, the pleasure was so swift and so keen that she flinched and gave a soft moan. His eyes locked with hers and he told her, without speaking aloud, that there were other places on her body he wanted to kiss. Places he fully intended to explore and master. Emma took hold of the tray with a hasty, awkward movement and bolted to her feet, feeling hot and achy all over. “Well,” she said with a brightness that was entirely false, “if you’re not hungry any longer…” “I didn’t say that, Miss Emma,” he interrupted, his voice as rough as gravel. “It’s just that it isn’t food I’m hungry for.” Only her fierce grasp on the sides of the tray kept Emma from dropping it to the floor—plate, cup, leftover food, and all. “What a scandalous remark!” Steven smiled and stretched, wincing a little at the resultant pain. “I can think of plenty of ‘scandalous’ remarks,” he said, “if you’d like to hear more.” Emma was painfully conscious of the pulse at the inside of her elbow, where Steven had kissed her. A number of other fragile points, such as the backs of her knees and the arches of her feet, tingled in belated response. “Good night, Mr. Fairfax,” she said, with feigned dignity. And then she turned and walked out of the room.
Emma is the second oldest of the Chalmers sisters who got adopted by a ‘madam’ whom owned a local saloon / bordello. She was kind to Emma, treated her as if she was her own daughter and refused to subject her to the life of a working girl in a bordello – she even forbids her to enter her very own. Even though Emma is grown, she’s never forgotten her two sisters – Lily and Caroline. Whenever the train comes to town, Emma makes sure she’s there to hand out posters with her sisters information on them, hoping one day she’ll find them again. While at the train station, she meets the books hero – Steven – as he departs a train cart with his horse. Not soon after, Emma encounters Steven again when he was injured in a blast and is convalescing in Chloe’s (Emma’s adopted mother) home. After a clumsy introduction and regaining some of his strength, Steven starts to flirt with Emma and eventually kisses her. Steven’s intention was never to stay long as he is an outlaw on the run, but he just can’t get sweet Emma off his mind which he inevitably decides to say. Steven relentlessly vies for her attention even though she has been seeing the town banker but that doesn’t deter him one bit. With all his wooing attempts, Emma loses her virtue and they end up marring after Steven goes on a cattle run. Emma learns why he is on the run and condemned an outlaw, which takes them to Louisiana – Stevens home and to face the crime he didn’t commit. She is welcomed into the Fairfax home with warm and welcoming arms of Cyrus (Steven’s grandfather) and Lucy (Steven’s sister in law), but Macon’s (Steven’s half brother) greeting is anything but warm. He makes snide and lewd remarks to her about making her his mistress and her popping out a few red headed bastard children once Steven is found guilty. Near the end, the person that committed the crime is brought to light and Steven is cleared.
“I was hoping—er—thinking—” He went crimson from his neck to his hairline. “Would you dance with me, Miss Emma?” She smiled and offered her hand. “I’d like that very much,” she said, hoping her face didn’t show the ravages of her earlier crying fit. Nathaniel cleared his throat and marshalled Emma awkwardly into a waltz. It seemed strange that, only three years before, she’d been his age. “If Steven or Macon is mean to you,” he ventured boldly, “you just come and tell me. I’ll give ’em what-for.” Resisting an urge to kiss his cheek, because she knew it would embarrass him too much, Emma nodded solemnly. “I’ll do that,” she promised, both amused and touched that Nathaniel was willing to do battle with such formidable opponents for her sake. Nathaniel’s handsome young face was dark with conviction and his palm was moist against Emma’s. “I know you think I’m just a kid, but I’m strong, Miss Emma. I won’t let anybody hurt you.” “Thank you,” Emma said, and she meant it.
“So you’ll be leaving now, I suppose,” the banker said, breaking the strained silence. “I don’t imagine a man like you cares to stay in one place too long.” Steven folded his arms. “Until just a few minutes ago, I figured on riding out,” he answered. “Now I’m not so sure.” Color blossomed in Whitney’s pasty cheeks. “What possible reason could you have to stay?” “Just one. Her name is Emma.” The banker stared at him with undisguised contempt, and Steven figured he must look pretty seedy, all things considered. It had been days since he’d shaved, and two months since he’d had a haircut. “You aren’t good enough to lick her shoes.” Steven indulged in a slow, obnoxious smile. “Let me understand this,” he drawled. “I’m not good enough for Emma, but you, her fiancé, just crawled out of bed with two whores?”
“What are you doing here?” she croaked. Macon dragged his eyes over her lush figure, her sleep-rumpled underthings made of the thinnest lawn, and smiled. “You might say I’ve come to admire the spoils. It won’t be long now, Emma, dear. Things are going very badly for Steven. Soon you’ll be giving me fine, redheaded sons. Of course, I won’t be able to keep you here at Fairhaven—that would be indiscreet. We’ll have to get you a place in town.” Emma tried to shield her breasts with one arm as she moved nearer and nearer the side of the bed. “You’re vile, Macon Fairfax, and I’d sooner die than let you touch me. Now, get out of here before I scream!” “You can scream all you want,” he chuckled, spreading his hands wide of his lithe body. “There’s nobody here but the servants, and they wouldn’t dream of interfering, believe me.” Emma swallowed hard. She couldn’t be sure whether he was bluffing; after all, this was Macon’s house as well as Cyrus’s. If he gave instructions, they were probably obeyed. “Get out,” she said again. Her hand was on the knob of the nightstand drawer, but she knew she wasn’t going to have time to get the pistol out and aim it before Macon was on her. He was too close, and his eyes showed that he knew exactly what she meant to do. “It won’t be so bad, Emma,” he coaxed, his voice a syrupy croon by then. “I know how to make you happy, and you’re in just the right place for me to prove it.” “Don’t touch me,” Emma breathed, shrinking back against the headboard, her eyes wide with horror. “Steven will kill you if you touch me!” “You wouldn’t tell him.” Macon was standing over her by then, looking down into her face. She could see a vein pulsing at his right temple as he set his jaw for a moment. “You’d keep it to yourself because he wouldn’t have a chance in hell of winning this case if he assaulted me in a fit of rage—would he?” Emma’s heart was thundering against her ribs and she was sure she was going to throw up. She tried to move away from Macon, but he reached out and grasped her hard by the hair. “Please,” she whispered. He indulged in a small, tight smile. “Don’t humiliate yourself by begging, darling. It won’t save you. Keep your pleas for those last delicious moments before pleasure overtakes you.” Bile rushed into the back of Emma’s throat. “Let me go.”
Before reading this book, I thought Steven’s crime that condemned him to be an outlaw more severe than what it was and that he actually did do the so called crime. When I got to about 75-80%, I kinda had a hunch who the killer was – I narrowed it down to two people, so I kinda felt how it was gonna go. I really enjoyed Emma and Steven as usual. Both were quite enjoyable characters. I also liked Cyrus, he was kind and warm to Emma, treating her like a real granddaughter, and vowed to protect her from Macon. Lucy seemed like a good sweet southern belle, but under the surface, her visage is severely cracked due to living with the likes of Macon. And Macon, well lets say he was a real doozy of a snake. He thought he could schmooze anyone into getting what he wanted and was constantly after Emma every chance he could get – to a point that he tries to rape her but gets interrupted, literally by being shot by his cousin / nephew. Fulton, I didn’t care much for him and I could never figure out why he was so desperate and persistent to get Emma to marry him. Now Joellen, good lord did I despise that girl. She was 16, so spoiled and used to getting what she wanted. I loved how Steven set her straight with a good ‘ol spanking to get through to her and to deter her plot of getting him to marry her. It sure set her straight afterwards, changing her mind within a second about forcing him to marry her and declaring she hated him.
Macon grinned as a white-haired man with pale, bushy eyebrows approached. He was wearing a light-colored suit, like most of the men around him, and there was a black string tie at his throat. His blue eyes were gentle as they moved from Steven’s face to Emma’s, and he extended a hand to her. “Hello, Emma,” he said simply. Emma’s gaze shifted to Steven as he was led away roughly, and tears gathered on her lashes, blinding her. She wanted to scream that he was innocent, but she knew that would only make bad matters worse. While a smug Macon watched Steven disappear, the old man smiled at Emma and offered her his handkerchief. “Since my grandson hasn’t troubled himself to introduce us,” he said, with a sour glance at Macon, “I’ll do the honors. I’m Cyrus Fairfax, and now that you’ve joined the family I consider myself your granddaddy.” Emma dried her eyes and squared her shoulders. She would be no use to Steven if she crumpled into a heap of self-pity and despair. “I’m Emma,” she said, even though she realized he already knew that. “And my husband didn’t kill anyone.” “I tend to agree with you,” Cyrus replied, laying his hand lightly on the small of Emma’s back and steering her toward the steps of the platform. “While we’re waiting for the rest of the world to come around to our way of thinking, we’ll get to know each other.” Emma’s gratitude was almost as overwhelming as her despondency. If it hadn’t been for Cyrus’s appearance at the station, she would have been left alone with Macon. And that was a prospect she certainly didn’t relish.
“What will you do if Steven’s convicted?” was his question. At first, Emma couldn’t face the thought. Then she allowed the nightmare to take root in her mind and answered. “I’d go away—maybe to Chicago or New York—and try to make a life for myself.” “You wouldn’t stay at Fairhaven?” Cyrus asked and, for all of it, he sounded surprised. Even a little wounded. She told him about Macon’s repeated threats and felt his arm stiffen around her shoulders. “I’d protect you,” he said after a long time. Then with a sigh he added, “But, of course, I’m an old man.” Emma caught one of his hands in both of hers and squeezed it. “I can’t tell you how much your kindness has meant to me. You’ve been so good to Steven—many men would have refused to acknowledge him, let alone take his side in a murder case.” Cyrus smiled sadly. “He’s got my blood flowing in his veins.” Emma frowned. “Why does Macon hate Steven so much?” He sighed. “Because he knows Steven’s a better man than he is. And that makes Macon damn dangerous.”
Emma awakened Steven rudely by arching her back and letting out a howl of startled discomfort. He sat bolt upright in bed, shoved one hand through his hair in agitation, and babbled that he was willing to pay five thousand dollars for the piece of land he wanted, and not a cent more. In spite of her pain, Emma laughed at his incoherency. “I’m in labor, Mr. Fairfax,” she told him, as her stomach contorted visibly beneath her nightgown and her face twisted in a grimace. “You’d better get the doctor, fast.” Fully awake now, Steven clambered out of bed, shouting for Cyrus and Nathaniel. They both appeared posthaste, clad in flannel nightshirts that would have started Emma into laughing again if she hadn’t been in so much pain. Steven didn’t recall that he was naked until after he’d dispatched Nathaniel to fetch Dr. Mayfield and Cyrus to bring Jubal from the servants’ quarters. And when he did, he didn’t give a damn. He struggled into his clothes, swearing under his breath the whole time. Emma let out a peal of amusement that somehow transformed itself into a loud moan. Her belly rose up as though it were being pinched between two giant, invisible fingers, and she felt a rush of water between her legs. “Is it supposed to happen this fast?” she asked Steven, panting out the words in the wake of another hard contraction. “How the hell should I know?” Steven barked, stumbling around in the darkness until he managed to strike his shin against the chest at the foot of the bed. When that happened he bellowed another curse and demanded, “Where the devil is the doctor?” “He lives five miles away,” Emma reasoned. “Calm down, Mr. Fairfax. Having a baby is a perfectly normal—” At that moment another pain seized her, wringing out a squeaky scream. […] “You squeeze on my hands,” Jubal ordered when Emma shrieked with pain. “You squeeze real hard, so’s to push the bones together.” “I never seen one come so fast,” prattled Esther, who generally tended the kitchen. “Oh, God,” Steven fretted, pacing at the foot of the bed. Emma felt another contraction closing in on her and clasped Jubal’s hands hard, determined not to scream again. “She’s gonna tear,” Esther warned. At this point, there was a ker-thump and Emma decided Steven had probably fainted, though she had neither the time nor the inclination to find out […] “Steven?” “He’s not feeling too well right now,” the doctor explained. “Crumpled to the floor when I had to cut you.” Emma laughed. Steven the outlaw, with his dreaded Colt .45. She’d never let him forget the occasion of his first child’s birth. […] “Don’t worry,” she said, wriggling an impossibly tiny toe. “Your daddy will protect you with his forty-five.” “Very funny,” said a weary voice at her side, as Steven sat on the edge of the bed, his face ghastly pale in the first light of a rainy dawn. “What’s her name?” he asked presently, looking down at his daughter. “Lily or Caroline?” “Both,” Emma answered.
Alike the previous book, there was plenty of humorous dialog and scenes throughout the book as well. I usually don’t keep track of intimate scenes while I read books, but I did notice this one had less than the first one, which was packed with about 7 or so. I feel like you don’t need many (more than 3 or 4) to convey the hero and heroines chemistry and romance in a book, but hey, that’s just my personal opinion. After finishing this, I would eventually like to get to Caroline’s story and see the sister’s finally reunited all together at last. One day I hope to also add this to my physical book collection as well.