A scion of the imperious Bragg family, golden-boy Rathe Bragg finds a society party all rather a yawn until a feisty suffragette bursts into the room. Wielding a six-shooter and shrieking feminist slogans from atop the grand piano, the impassioned lady makes a startling first impression on those gathered, especially Rathe -- and from that moment the sparks between them only intensify.
Irrepressible Grace O'Rourke, an intensely devout feminist, has outraged the entire town of Natchez with her radical ideas, and soon infuriates Rathe with her lack of regard for any opinions other than her own. Yet, despite her steadfast devotion to her cause, Grace warms to the virile gallant. But his bold suggestion of becoming his mistress stings the proud Grace, and she firmly rejects his scandalous proposition. But telling a Bragg "no" is the ultimate stimulant, and now, Rathe ardently pursues the lady whose eyes are ignited by a violet fire.
Enjoy the entire Bragg saga --
Grace O'Rourke sat perfectly erect, shoulders stiff and squared, gloved hands clasped primly in her lap. She looked out from beneath a gray bonnet at the passing countryside-green and lush and so very hot in August. They had passed through rolling, wooded hills and small, cultivated plots of land, by vast fields of cotton, shimmering white in the sun, ragged shacks with sagging roofs, and huge, partially destroyed antebellum mansions, with blackened-out windows, a testimony to the recent past. The train was already chugging its way across Mississippi. In a very few hours she would arrive at her destination. Unconsciously, her hands tightened.
She made a nondescript figure in her dowdy gray traveling suit. There was a light dusting of freckles over her perfectly small, slightly upturned, classically Irish nose. A pair of gold-rimmed spectacles also rested on that nose, but could not disguise wide, almond-shaped eyes of the most remarkable color-violet. Her mouth was lush and full, especially when relaxed and not primly pursed in thought or vexation. The hat hid every single strand of her fantastically red hair, a near impossible accomplishment, for it was a hip-length mass of untamable curls. Her eyebrows, arched above the ugly glasses, were a darker aubum, almost but not quite the exact same shade as her hair.
Grace was very anxious. She was terribly afraid that something might go wrong, that she might lose the job she was traveling to Natchez to claim. A very proper appearance was crucial. Her suit, however unflattering, was her best and that, along with the glasses, which she did not need, and the bonnet concealing her hair, made her look, she thought, properly matronly. Properly governess-like, she hoped. "Oh, dam," she finally whispered to herself, releasing some of the anxiety that had been building in her over the last few days.
The couple sitting in front of her turned to stare.
Grace smiled immediately, ignoring the man, whose red face and veined nose bespoke intemperance to her discerning eye. The woman was plump and sad-eyed, a sister in need-Grace could just feel it. They had boarded in Nashville. Grace had been waiting for the right opportunity to strike up a conversation. "It's such a shame," she said softly, gesturing at the still-magnificent ruins of yet another antebellum plantation.
"Yes, it is," the woman responded, twisting to look at her.
"I'm Grace O'Rourke, from New York City," Grace said, smiling and extending her hand. She felt a twinge of worry about using her real name, even though it was unlikely anyone would recognize her so far from home.
"I'm Martha Grimes, and this is my husband, Charles.
Charles turned too, after taking a sip from a beautifully wrought silver hip flask. "My pleasure, ma'am."
Grace nodded and turned her attention back to Martha. "Where are you from, Martha?"
"You wouldn't know it -- a little town called Two Corners, fifty miles south of Nashville."
"No, I don't know it. What brings you and your husband south?"
"We're visiting our daughter in Natchez," Martha said, beaming. "She's just had her first."
"How wonderful. I'm on my way to Natchez, too. I'm a teacher."
Charles turned. "Hope you ain't one of them nigger teachers."
Grace stiffened, flushing. Do not respond, she told herself sternly. Do not. She ignored him. "Actually, a dear, old friend of mine has arranged a position for me at a plantation called Melrose. As governess."
"How wonderful," Martha said. "How many children will you have?"
"Just two," Grace said, with a deep sigh. She was so unbelievably lucky to have gotten this position. The pay was more than generous, and it included room and board. She would be able to send all of her...