He'll leave town when he's good and ready...and when the pretty and proper young schoolmarm consents to be his bride.
A Bad Man's Desire
At first glance, the lovely Easterner Anthea Bright seems woefully unsuited for her position as the new schoolmarm in Haven, Kansas. But behind that fine finishing school polish is a fiery spirit and a determination to succeed. Gabriel Jackson, however, is a different kind of challenge. The intensely passionate, devastatingly sexy man is Haven's most disreputable citizen -- and he's put Anthea's level head and her heart in a furious spin. How can theprim, pretty newcomer hope to stand firm to her principles when she feels breathless whenever Gabriel's near? And though a small voice inside tells her the "bad man's" not nearly as bad as his reputation would suggest, does she dare surrender to this dangerous stranger who is bound and determined to make Anthea his bride?
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About the Author
A former science geek, Susan Kay Law turned to romancewriting as a career because it was the perfect excuse to avoid housework and continue spending all her time doing what she really loved: reading and daydreaming. Also because she was really bad at sitting in a swamp at 5 A.M. in forty-degree weather and tracking bird behavior.
Winner of the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart Award and a Waldenbooks Bestseller award, twice nominated for a RITA Award, she confesses that the biggest surprise of her career was when this small town Midwestern preacher's kid was named to New Woman magazine's list of "the steamiest writers of women's fiction." Her greatest joy, however, is spending her days thoroughly outnumbered by four of the best males on the planet -- her husband and three sons. She currently lives in Minnesota, and plans to be a ski bum in her next life.
Read an Excerpt
Much to her heartfelt dismay, Anthea Bright really was in Kansas now. And to think that it had not been long ago at all that she'd not only anticipated her residence in that state, but had deliberately chosen it. Her miscalculations weren't usually so, well, huge.
My dearest sisters:
I am delighted to be able to report to you that my first week on the job has vastly exceeded my dreams.
Anthea stared at the words, she'd just neatly penned in her precise hand her fourth attempt at beginning this necessary letter and decided they weren't entirely a lie. After all, nightmares counted as dreams, didn't they? And even in her worst ones, her imagination had proved too limited to envision the true disaster of her first week as school mistress of the Haven Township School.
I have eighteen students, ranging in age from five to sixteen, each of them bright and hardworking and imaginative.
Now, that was even closer to the truth. Though the handful of blotched, misspelled, and downright inaccurate compositions stacked at one end of the rickety table that served as her desk attested otherwise, she'd collected ample evidence during the past week of her pupils' fiendishly bright and imaginative tendencies...as long as their activities were bent toward making life as difficult as possible for their brand-new teacher.
As to the schoolhouse itself, there are three large windows on each opposite wall, and in the morning when I arrive,the room is flooded with cheerful sunshine.
Not through the windows, however. Thin boards covered four of them, and the other panes were so grimy, streaked with soot from within and mud from without, that no mere sunlight could burn through the coating.
However, plenty of light gained admittance through the wide gaps between the laths in the wall, striping the old puncheon floor like a Hudson Bay blanket. She'd have to do something about those openings soon or her ink would freeze in its well once the weather turned cold.
Perhaps she should have tried penning fiction instead of teaching to generate income, Anthea thought with wry amusement. She hadn't suspected she had such a gift for enhancing the truth.
The resounding crash of the schoolhouse door against the wall made her jump. Her pen shot across the page in a streaking line.
The school building faced west, and bright spears of late afternoon sunlight burst through the door squeezing around a broad figure that seemed to take up the entire entrance. She squinted against the light unable to make out any features except the outline of wide shoulders and great height haloed in dazzling gold.
"I " Anthea swallowed hard, forcing formality and assurance into her voice. If she'd, learned one useful thing in her first week of teaching, it was that a good illusion of confidence was nearly as effective as the real thing. "May I help you?" she asked in tones well learned at Miss Addington's Select School for Young Ladies. A very useful skill, that particular tone.
The low growl she received in answer might have been intended as a greeting or a threat. Her heart thudding hard, she mentally cast about for an available weapon and found none. She'd been assured upon her arrival that tales of the Wild West notwithstanding, Haven was ever so much safer than her hometown of Philadelphia.
The figure stepped into the room and the door slammed shut behind him. Her eyes adjusted slowly, the hazy outline sharpening.
She would have guessed that since her arrival six days ago, she'd met nearly every resident of the small town. But not this one. She might have forgotten half the names and faces who'd dropped by the schoolhouse to pay their formal respects and satisfy their ill-concealed curiosity before abandoning their children to her inexperienced care, but she never would have forgotten him.
Even without the corona of sunlight, he was impressive. She wondered vaguely how he'd even managed to fit through the door. His old, copper-toed boots were as scarred as the floor upon which he'd planted them. A healthy coating of good Kansas dirt covered denim trousers faded to near white. His pale blue shirt looked as if it had been washed by someone who didn't know how, the sleeves rolled up over forearms sturdy as fence posts.
A black hat that looked older than he did rode low on his forehead, obscuring his eyes. A full day's growth of dark beard shadowed a jaw that was probably uncompromising under the best of circumstances and right now was set at a downright threatening angle.
She reminded herself and once again, even more firmly, before she was able to get her voice to work that a miscreant was unlikely to accost a small-town schoolteacher on a placid, sunny Friday in a schoolhouse that half the county passed on their way in and out of town. "May I be of assistance?"
He jammed those forearms over a chest that seemed hewn from granite. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
The new schoolmarm looked exactly as Gabriel Jackson. had pictured her.
A small, prim woman, as plain and ruthlessly proper as ordinary cotton gloves, with a neat little nose, angled high and proud. A nose just like all the others that fine, upstanding ladies had been looking at him down all his life. She must have boiled her shirtwaist for hours to get it that blinding white, the collar lace so stiffly starched it had to be cutting a dent beneath that precise chin.
At his outburst, she pokered up immediately. Predictably. "Pardon me?" she asked with what he figured was deliberately exaggerated politeness, emphasizing his bad manners by contrasting them with her good ones.
"I asked what the "
"Oh, I heard you perfectly well." Her chair scraped back as she stood, her back ramrod-straight...
Table of Contents
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Haven, Kansas.......................................................................................................................... Not only is the town populated by the worlds nastiest people. It also has the worlds meanest children. I couldn't imagine why Cole stayed in the town 5 minutes longer then necessary. Supposedly it was because his recently adopted daughter isn't ready to move. Why not? If the children aren't slinging mud on her or writing dirty words on her back they're knocking her down and shoving snow in her face. On a good day they just ignore her. Of course all this is a piece of cake compared to what Cole went through as a child. That not withstanding Cole and Anthea are a cute couple. She's spunky and he's a bad boy with a heart of gold. It predictable but well done. I'm not really tempted to by the next two in the series though.
The tension was sexy and the characters lovable. Loved it
In post Civil War Kansas, Anthea Bright has taken the position of school teacher in order to support her sisters living back east in Philadelphia. Anthea never bargained to meet Gabriel Jackson,'father' of Lily, one of Anthea's students. Though he frustrates her, Anthea finds herself drawn to Gabriel, an attraction which she can ill-afford. For Gabriel is shunned by the more respectable members of the town of Haven given the fact that his mother was never married.
Gabriel's gruff kindness astounds Anthea as she comes to know him better and begins to care for Lily. Unforseen circumstances force the pair to marry to save Anthea's reputation. Will their marriage last, or will they go their separate ways, never to see one another again?
Readers looking for a witty and delightful read will be sure to enjoy this book. While the emotions between the hero and heroine are intense enough to satisfy many a reader, the elements of humor cleverly interspersed in this novel lend a feeling of reality to the protagonists. A truly entertaining read!
Haven, Kansas is as far away from Anthea Bright¿s upper class Philadelphia upbringing as you can get. Miss Addington¿s finishing school gave her the basics of teaching but certainly never prepared her to live in a soddy, or to deal with an infuriating man like Gabriel Jackson. Gabriel Jackson returned to Haven to be with his Mother in her final days, and winds up taking on the responsibility of an orphaned little girl named Lilly. He knows how cruel the town can be to the town can be to kids like her, after all he¿s been there himself. But he¿s determined that Lilly will not suffer the same pain he did. She will learn the skills that she needs to get by, reading and writing, not the posture and manners garbage that the prissy new schoolmarm is teaching her. Anthea offers to tutor Lilly privately each night to help her catch up with the other children, but being in such close proximity with Gabriel is putting the most unladylike thoughts in her head. And when he kisses her, all of Miss Addington¿s efforts fly out the window. Susan Kay Law has crafted the world of Haven so well you feel you could move in and set up house. Not only are the lead characters vivid but she¿s created a host of three-dimensional supporting players with intrigues and quirks of their own. The Bad Man¿s Bride is an entertaining novel that grabs your attention and takes you on an emotional ride of pain, passion, and romance. Anthea, Gabriel and especially Lilly will jump off the page and into your heart. Curl up in your favorite chair, with your favorite beverage and settle in for a good read.
In 1885, penniless Anthea Bright moves from Philadelphia to Haven, Kansas having accepted the job of schoolmistress to eighteen recalcitrant students. Though she writes back to her two sisters that her new employment, home, and town far exceeds her dreams, Anthea wonders if she made an error choosing this profession to generate income. When the town¿s ¿bad boy¿ Gabriel Jackson visits Anthea to complain about her not properly teaching his daughter Lily, sparks fly, but not all are positive. Anthea and Gabriel argue over what is best for Lilly. Although Anthea wonders why the townsfolk believe Gabriel is a scoundrel, the duo fall in love, but the obstacles to a permanent relationship seems wider than the distance between Pennsylvania and Kansas. The first tale in Susan Kay Law¿s ¿Marrying Miss Bright, THE BAD MAN¿S BRIDE, is an entertaining, often humorous western romance. The plot succeeds on several levels due to an authentic feel of the triangular relationships between Gabriel, Anthea, and Lily. Adding to the depth of the key characters and reader acceptability of them is a strong secondary cast. Sub-genre fans have plenty to look forward to when this phenomenal author lays down the law with the tales of Anthea¿s two sisters. Harriet Klausner