If you've read any of the other books in The Marriage Market series, especially Effie, you might have a tiny inkling how difficult Suzanna Jefferies can be.
In book four, Suzanna, you'll discover that you haven't even scratched the surface of what lengths this young woman will go to get what she wants, mainly a wealthy husband.
She wants one, she deserves one, and by God, she'll have one or there will be hell to pay! Heads will roll if the spoiled Georgia peach is thwarted.
Of course she has a plan. Not a very well thought out plan, but a plan just the same and no where in that plan is anything about love.
In Suzanna's opinion, and Suzanna has an opinion about literally everything, love is nonsense, something thought up by poets and used to make women behave in ways that do not suit their best interest. In other words, if a woman has the choice between love and money, a smart woman will choose money every time.
Several women turned to look at the tall, dark haired man beside her as they were shown to their table.
“I had no idea you were so handsome under that cowboy scruff,” she whispered as he pulled out her chair.
“Thank you, I think.” With a grin he took his own seat.
“No, I mean it. You’re a very attractive man,” she stated thoughtfully, seeming to note every detail of his attire. “It’s a shame you don’t have any social standing,” she said with a sigh.
“Yes, isn’t it,” he agreed a bit sharply.
“You don’t do you? Have any pedigree, I mean?”
“Not that you’d be aware of,” he replied as the waiter approached. “We’ll have a bottle of your finest champagne,” he informed him.
“Do you know what you’d like?” he inquired as they consulted the menus.
“I’m going to have roast beef with all the trimmings,” Suzanna exclaimed, snapping the menu closed and setting it aside.
As soon as they were served their champagne, Dalton ordered for them. He chose a thick steak and they watched a few couples whirling around on the dance floor as they waited.
“This is delicious,” Suzanna said taking a sip of her champagne. “Of course I wasn’t allowed to drink much, so I can only compare it to what I had at the Jordons’, but it’s just as good if not better than what they served. When I marry, I’m going to have a huge wine cellar with dozens and dozens of bottles. I shall drink every day if I choose,” she insisted, raising her glass in a toast.
“That might be difficult on a marshal’s salary,” Dalton replied softly.
“Oh, yes, I forgot. Well, maybe I won’t marry the marshal. Maybe I’ll marry a rich man who can give me everything I want,” she said mockingly before sipping from her glass.
“Is that what’s important to you, wealth, power?” he asked, leaning back in his chair.
“Of course it’s important,” she snapped with a frown. “Money is the only true security a girl has. If she has money, she can go anywhere, do anything without worrying where her next meal is coming from.”
“But if you marry money, it will be your husband’s decision what you do and where you go,” he pointed out. “It will be at his discretion what you may spend.”
“That’s true,” she conceded, pointing at him with her finger. “But a smart girl knows how to get what she wants from her husband.”
“You’re sure about that?” he asked with a grin.
“Very,” she replied as their plates were set before them. Snapping open her napkin, she laid it carefully across her lap.
“How can you be so sure?”
“Dalton,” she replied, cutting a tiny bite of roast beef and popping it in her mouth with a small groan of satisfaction. “I’m going to be honest with you because, well, there’s no reason not to be. Most likely we will not see each other after tonight. You’re not interested in acquiring a wife and you simply wouldn’t do as a husband…”
“Are you insulting me?” he asked with a laugh.
“Not at all, at least I don’t mean to. I simply mean that you don’t have nearly enough money to tempt me despite… well as I said, you are an attractive man.”
“I see. Please go on.”
“Aren’t you going to eat?” she asked, pointing at his plate with her fork. “Of course, it’s just that I’m so um… entertained I nearly forgot.”
“Don’t make fun of me, Dalton. I’m deadly serious,” she warned, her eyes narrowing.
“I wouldn’t dream of it. Please continue. I’d love to hear how you are going to convince your ‘rich husband’ to hand over his money,” he said with a smirk.
“All right, laugh if you want, but everything I tell you is the truth,” she replied, taking a bite of mashed potatoes smothered in rich gravy. Picking up her glass she drained it and instantly the waiter was at her side refilling it.
“Where I come from, women are raised differently. They are brought up to respect their elders, be graceful and charming at all times and defer to the men in their lives. They learn to run a huge home, manage the household accounts and the servants efficiently all without bothering their lord and master, be it father or husband. Women must be skilled in all social graces, talented in an assortment of extremely boring activities such as needlework and playing the piano and the really clever ones make it all seem effortless.”
“Seems reasonable,” he drawled, laughing when she glared at him.
“A loving and generous husband had to be acquired at some point, ensuring a woman a safe and secure future for her and her children. It didn’t matter if the man was particularly young or handsome, as long as he had the wherewithal to support her in the style she’d been raised in. She was encouraged to aspire to make the best match that she could. This, of course, was determined by her own beauty,” she pointed out. “Naturally, the more beautiful and talented a woman was, the more likely she was to marry well. Statesmen were to be particularly sought out. After all, they had power and position well beyond the average land owner.”
“Did no one value you beyond what you could bring to the family with your looks?” he asked leaning forward.
Suzanna looked at him, confused.
“What I mean to ask is, was no one interested in you as a person? Who you are on the inside? Your personality, your sense of humor, your mind?” he asked, his brows furrowed.
“No, I don’t think so,” she answered, obviously thinking about his question as she chewed. “I don’t think it mattered what I thought about anything. It was obvious from the time I was a very young child that I was going to be a ‘great beauty.’ That’s really all anyone seemed to care about. My mother was always after me about not getting hurt. She didn’t want to risk any unsightly scars. I was never allowed to go outside without protection from the sun lest I get a dreaded freckle, but I never did even though I snuck out plenty of times.”
“Anyway, to get back to what I was saying originally, I was trained to be an exceptional wife. The reason I know I can control my future husband and his wealth didn’t come from my mother, however. It came from somewhere else,” she said coyly.
“Tell me,” he encouraged, genuinely curious. “What secret spell can you conjure to make a man bend to your will?”
Suzanna leaned forward and whispered as the waiter refilled her glass once again.
“I don’t know if I should tell you. It’s very intimate and nothing a lady would ever say,” she hissed.
“Where did you learn this secret?” he asked, leaning forward too.
“In the servant’s quarters,” she replied quietly. “I was always welcome there and people often forgot I was around. My mother would have had a fit had she known, but I found out all sorts of interesting things.”
“So tell me,” he insisted, taking a bite of his steak. “I swear I will take it as it’s intended, just a bit of information shared between friends.”
Suzanna quickly drank half her glass of champagne before she spoke.
“I heard that if a woman...
If you've missed any of the other books in the series, they're on sale until 9/3. Happy reading,
Watching the woman he loves take paying customers upstairs is the hardest thing Charlie Walker has ever had to do.
Emelie Svennson’s dream is to sing on stage. When a musical troupe passes through her home in Wisconsin, she believes her dream will be fulfilled when the leader invites her to be the star of his show. By the time she realizes he is nothing more than an abusive bully and her dream is now her nightmare, she finds herself stranded in San Francisco with no money and on the run from the law. As she tries to make her way home to her family, she stops in Culpepper Cove and is drawn to the amazing melodies coming from the Red Petticoat Saloon. The handsome piano player is almost as remarkable as his music.
Charlie Walker adores all of the gems he works with, but from the minute he meets Emelie, he knows there is something special about her. As much as he wants her to stay in Culpepper Cove, the thought of her putting on red petticoats and entertaining men upstairs as Silver cuts him to the core.
As their pasts clash, Charlie will have to work hard to convince his new gem that he will not only love and honor her, but that he won’t hesitate to drag her across his knee for a bare-bottomed spanking that promises to warm more than just her backside. Can he convince the woman with the voice of an angel that dreams can come true?
After thirty minutes of non-stop music, Charlie stood for a short break. A smattering of applause greeted him as he headed to the kitchen for a glass of lemonade. The sight that greeted him when he arrived stopped him in his tracks at the door.
"I'm sorry, Miss Jewel, but I just can't do it. I thought I could, but I can't. Please..."
"Take a deep breath. We'll figure something out," Jewel comforted. Emelie stood in the middle of the room in the skimpy corset with a too-short skirt of pink petticoats that highlighted her petite bare legs peeking out. Her normally pale complexion was brighter than the pink petticoats that helped draw attention to her pencil thin waist. The fact that the only thing close to ample on her body were her curvy breasts spilling out of the top of her outfit had his already hard cock throbbing with pain in his breeches.
Yep, this was going to be a long night indeed.
He knew the second she spotted him in the doorway because her arms flew up to shield herself, as if she could. The sight of her was forever burned into his brain and he knew the vision would be the fodder for every single-handed wank he ever gave himself in the future.
"Tell her, Charlie." The room of women had turned, waiting expectantly for him to answer a question he hadn't heard.
"Excuse me? Can you repeat the question?" he asked sheepishly.
Jewel smiled indulgently. "I was just telling Garnet how beautiful she looked in her uniform."
"Who the hell is Garnet?" he blurted.
Nettie was closest to him and proceeded to reach up and whack the back of his head. "Are you daft, boy? Emelie of course."
His feet moved of their own accord, drawing him closer as Emelie's eyes grew larger with each step he took towards her. By the time he stood next to her, he could swear she'd collapse in a faint if he said "boo." She was trembling and her fear angered him.
"Begging your pardon, Miss Jewel, but this here gem is no garnet. She's a shiny piece of silver if I ever saw one."
Jewel stepped closer. "Yes, well I hardly think it's her name she's protesting. Seems she's having a bit of trouble with the outfit."
He tried to reassure her. "The first night will be the worst. It'll take some time getting used to the new uniform." He tried to make her smile with a wink. "And truthfully, I'm a bit jealous. You wait and see how sweltering hot it'll get in that crowded room by the end of the night in this summer heat. You'll be grateful for the lack of heavy clothes, you wait and see."
"Well, maybe we should switch outfits then and you can see how you like it." Emelie moved her hands to her hips, looking like she was ready for a fight.
So little Miss Emelie had some spunk after all.
"I'd be happy to, but I'm not sure the customers would take kindly to me wearing a dress and I'm certain they'll not like you hiding this beautiful body of yours."
She was embarrassed by his compliment and, in that moment, he knew she was an innocent. God help him, but it only made him want her that much more.
He watched her reaction as he made a suggestion to Jewel. "She says she's a singer. Why not have her skip serving customers for tonight and sing with me instead? It'll give her some time to get used to the goings on and break in this here dress. I'll be able to keep a close eye on her so she doesn't run into any rowdy customers who don't want to take no for an answer."
It sounded like a perfectly fine solution to their problem to him. Nettie thought otherwise, muttering under her breath as she walked back over to the stove to stir what smelled like chicken and dumplings. "We need servers, not singers and if he has his way, it'll be a lot more than singing going on between them two before the night is over."
The grin on Jewel's face confirmed she agreed with her friend. Charlie didn't much care what they thought. He was too busy being elated at the relief he detected in Emelie.
"You'd do that for me? Let me sing with you?"
He held out his arm as an invitation. "I'm counting on you at least being able to carry a tune. With your looks, you won't have to be stupendous. You just can't stink."
She smiled shyly. "I don't stink."
He leaned closer to inhale deeply near her long blonde locks. "No, you most certainly do not." He fought the urge to reach out and smooth down an errant curl. "Let's go pick out some songs you know."
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Livia Grant lives in Chicago with her husband and two sons... one a teenager, the other a furry rescue dog named Max. She is blessed to have traveled extensively and as much as she loves to visit places around the globe, the Midwest and its changing seasons will always be home. Livia started writing when she felt like she finally had the life experience to write a riveting story that she hopes her readers won't be able to put down. Livia's fans appreciate her deep character driven plots, often rooted in an ensemble cast where the friendships are as important as the romance... well, almost.
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