Anyone who was absolutely anyone knew the story of how Julie Anne Baptiste’s parents met: the blue-blood Union cavalry officer and the freedwoman on her way North fell madly in love at first sight, all in the midst of the Civil War. It was legendary within New York City's Four Hundred, and from girlhood, Julie daydreamed of her finding own true love match. But now, as a well-seasoned debutante of twenty-one years, Julie only dreams of teaching and much prefers the vibrant world of her books over the company of society’s most eligible bachelors.
Julie is content to perform the role of affluent debutante until she realizes all of her tomorrows have horrifyingly become occupied by a gamut of social engagements, and they will remain so until she marries. Desperate and knowing only a wedding will put a stop to the madness of living as a debutante, Julie does the unthinkable: she responds to a mail order advert in the Heart and Hand Matrimonial Times. No longer a girl fantasizing of love, Julie did not anticipate forming a genuine romantic connection with the man she corresponds with, but when ex-Union soldier Forrest Wickes writes her, Julie loses her heart.
All seems well with Julie’s plan to leave the city and marry, until the society pages intercept one of her letters and within the hour all of New York knows of Julie’s decision to become a mail-order bride. However, the New York City society pages don’t know they only reported half the truth about Julie Baptiste. The debutante intends to marry not only Forrest Wickes but also his best friend, William Barnes. Her secret of taking two husbands safe, Julie sets out for the Montana Territory before the papers can learn the truth. But how will a debutante-turned-teacher manage frontier life with two husbands?
Meet William Barnes of Heart and Hand
God, woman, where are you in all this lace?” he huffed, making sure to get the entirety of her train safely up on the bench next to her.
“It’s the height of fashion,” she informed him primly.
Will snorted, still shoving swaths of silk satin up next to her. “Seems like a waste.”
Julie stiffened at his casual comment and looked down at her hands, even though she knew he couldn’t see the hurt in her eyes, not with the near darkness they were in, relieved only by the bright light of the moon.
Noticing that she’d gone still, Will sighed, “I didn’t mean—Julie, you looked beautiful today.”
“Thank you,” she said, her voice small. She kept her eyes on her lap and, working to keep her voice even, began to ask about Forrest when Will spoke.
“Darlin’,” he tried, one of his hands coming to rest over both of hers, which were tightly clasped in her lap. “I’m sorry. Sometimes I speak before I think. Y-you were the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life today.” He picked up a fistful of her skirt and gave it a gentle shake. “This wasn’t a waste. Not an inch of it.” He was whispering now, voice low and husky. She could hear the sincerity in his voice and she swallowed hard at the raw emotion she heard.
Too Hot to Handle
Julie nodded. “I want you to,” she whispered. “I want you. Please.”
Will let out a hum of satisfaction, pressing kisses gently against her skin. He had kissed a course across her left thigh toward that pulsing place at the apex. His tongue joined his lips and it was all Julie could do not to sob from frustration. She needed more of him; she needed friction, pressure, all of it. She wiggled, trying to get her hips where she needed, but his hands came up to hold her down firmly by her hip bones.
“Patience,” Will rumbled against her, his breath hot against her core.
“Oh God,” she moaned, eyes squeezing shut once again when she felt the first brush of Will’s lips. “Will!” She let out a short cry of pleasure.
Will’s hands tightened on her, but he said nothing. His mouth kissed and tongue licked at her, devouring her in a way that she hadn’t known possible. Julie’s panting moans filled the room as Forrest spoke sweet nothings into her ear. She was practically sobbing when Will’s tongue and lips closed around that bud of pleasure. His fingers joined in his ministrations, a finger slipping inside of her, making her squirm.
“So pretty like this,” Forrest whispered. He kissed her neck gently and ran his fingers through her curly hair. Julie turned her face into his shoulder, his body her anchor. His presence grounded her while her body climbed higher and higher to a place that she hadn’t known existed until now.
“Will!” she cried out, fingers clutching at the sheets beneath her. Forrest reached down and moved one of her hands into Will’s hair. Under the gentle guidance of Forrest she gave over to the side of her that was wanted and needed more from this man. Her fingers tangled in his hair as she rode a wave of ecstasy so intense that at its zenith she was left screaming Will’s name until her cries turned hoarse.