When Duncan MacRae met the new superintendent of the Caxton Home for Orphans, he was, to say the least, not pleased. Sadie was much too bright for such an austere place. She was also much too talkative, much too beautiful and her head was full of all the wrong reforms. Unfortunately, he was in no position to summarily have her replaced. The best he could do was teach her how a proper orphanage should be run. But 'under his wing' was more like over his knee, and his feisty Sadie was becoming more unnervingly beautiful with every heated confrontation between them, both on and off his lap!
Oh no! Friends, they were not! But unless he could get his increasingly passionate nature - and Sadie - under firm control, their safe, comfortable roles as 'enemies' was about to come to a screeching, earth-shattering, smiling, laughing, entirely too-kissable stop.
A 12 chapter historical spanking romance! If you object to heroes who are unaffected by political correctness and unafraid to turn their lady loves bottom-up, then please don't buy this book.
1902, Wellsville, New York Countryside
Doctor Duncan MacRae had always considered himself a �somewhat� man. He was somewhat tall, but still short at five-foot-nine-inches. His frame was somewhat slender in build, but topped with broad shoulders and a narrow waist. Even his hair was somewhat blond, although really it was more of a muddy brown, which matched the color of his eyes exactly. And if the Devil himself could be considered even-tempered, than Duncan was even somewhat that.
He rumbled down the icy driveway in his single-cylinder Trumbull car, the top folded out in case it began snowing again. The wheels skidded on the ice and gravel until his runabout came to a stop at the stone base of the Caxton Orphan Asylum�s front steps. At the last minute, he remembered to fill his pockets with peppermints for the children before jogging up the porch and walking inside. He had just received word this morning that the new superintendent had arrived late the previous night. It was time to make her acquaintance.
Duncan wasn�t exactly eager. In the twelve years that he�d served as the staff doctor for Caxton�s children, he had suffered through a number of management changes. In his opinion, not one of them had been anything but a muddle-headed busy-body without a lick of common sense. Granted, a few had been well-versed in the proper running of a large institution. Occasionally, an attempt was even made at making Caxton into a healthy one, albeit only when healthy ran parallel to cheap in the budgeting.
At this point, Duncan held little hope that the new superintendent would be any different from her predecessors. Although he did hope this one might be a tad bit nicer than the late, great Mrs. Lippett, who after twenty-two years of tyranny, both here as well as in numerous other facilities, had finally turned up her toes and died.
After twelve years of near daily visits, Duncan knew the way to the superintendent�s office quite by heart. He stalked through the empty main entrance, jogged up the stairs to the second floor, and made his way down the long, sterile hall towards the window overlooking the remote countryside. The door he wanted was the last one on the left.
Just as he was reaching for the porcelain knob, a peal of girlish laughter sounded from inside the room and the door burst open. It collided squarely with his forehead and knocked Duncan flat on his back on the hardwood floor.
A tall, blue-eyed blonde woman stood frozen in the threshold, one hand guiltily holding the knob and the other covering her gaping mouth. "Oh my goodness gracious!"
Beside her, a little girl in pigtail braids was solemnly shaking her head. "I think ya kilt him, Miss Alma."
Duncan was not amused. He lay where he was, making no move to regain his feet and watching as the ceiling spun in lazy circles above him. Concussion, he thought. He would likely have brain trauma from the blow and a knot on his forehead the size of a goose egg.
"Oh my," the blonde woman said again. When she leaned over, peering into his peripheral range, he looked at her. "Are you all right?"
His face darkened into the blackest of scowls. "No."
He lay his hands flat on the floor, but as he slowly pushed himself upright, he was hit in the chest by an overly-exuberant, warm and wriggling puppy, which promptly began a playful mauling. Duncan threw up his hands in time to catch it before the wee beast shed all over his mustard tweed suit, but not before it managed to plant several wet kisses across the doctor�s nose, cheeks, and chin.
The child laughed and clapped her hands. The woman looked positively mortified.
"Toby! Get down this very minute! Sally Kate, stop giggling and grab him!"
Both females launched themselves at Duncan, trying to catch the puppy as it bit and licked at his hands. Duncan struggled just as determinedly to get out from under both dog and child, as well as Alma�s voluminous petticoats.
Finally, Duncan caught hold of the little beast�s scruff and deposited the entire wiggling package into Sally Kate�s arms. He wiped the slobber from his face with his handkerchief and glared at Alma. "Tell me you are someone here to adopt this wee girl and her dog."
Alma stuck out her hand. "Good morning. I am Alma Burke, the new superintendent."
Duncan almost closed his eyes.
"And you are?" she prompted, her hand still held out for his.
"Doctor Duncan MacRae," he growled. Reluctantly, he reached for her hand, but rather than helping to pull him up off the floor, she shook it instead.
Any reasonable person would have been acutely embarrassed and probably would have apologize profusely for having put him through such an ordeal. But not the blonde woman. Instead of being upset, her face relaxed into an expression of great relief.
"Oh thank goodness!" She lay her hand upon her chest. "And here, I thought you were a prospective client. This wouldn�t have been good publicity." She invited him into her office and told the young girl, "Thank you for that lovely tour. Please take the puppy to the kitchen for some breakfast and ask the cook to send up tea and cookies for two."
Shutting the door, the woman turned to him with a grin. "How is your head? Shall I call down for some ice?"
He gingerly touched the tender spot on his forehead. It would likely be a bruised lump by nightfall, but he only shook his head. "No, I�m fine."
As he followed her back to her desk, accepting the seat that she offered him, Duncan took stock of the woman seating herself across the desk from him. She was a lovely creature, a stunning Venus with pale blue eyes and blonde hair pinned up beneath a huge and feathered hat. She was also young. Very young. In fact, if she was a day over twenty-five, he�d cheerfully eat his shoe.
She smoothed out her sunshine-yellow dress�its wide and flowing skirts made of chiffon, not cotton, with a trim, tight corset, puffed sleeves, and a ruffled bodice that gave her quite a bosomy look, and which was also not at all what he would have considered suitable for the superintendent of a working asylum�and beamed a smile at him. "What can I do for you, Doctor?"
Duncan�s dark eyes narrowed as he sized her up and down. "Have you had any experience running a place the size of Caxton, Miss Burke?"
"It�s Alma. And no, none whatsoever." She smiled again. "Can I get you some tea?"
He couldn�t have heard that right. He leaned towards her, cocking his head slightly to one side as he echoed, "None?"
"Oh well, I have done some charity work."
He folded his hands between his knees. In the flattest possible tone, he asked, "What kind of charity work?"
"Well, one year I donated a half hour of my time every week to sitting and reading with the inmates of the Female Inebriates Asylum back home."
Duncan was quiet, waiting for her to continue, but Alma only smiled at him and tapped her fingertips on the desktop. Finally, he asked, "Is that all?"
Her smile faded slightly. "You should have met some of those inmates. Believe me, Doctor, a half hour was quite long enough."
"I meant in regards to your qualifications," he said, exasperated and trying hard not to snap. "Is that all?"
"Oh." Alma�s smile faded a little more. "Well, no, of course not." She cleared her throat. "I suppose my best credentials would then have to be my firm disposition and stubbornly turned-up nose. I doubt the children have ever seen such a determined tilt in one�s facial characteristics before. The little dears have been staring at it since the moment of my arrival."
Duncan could hardly help himself from staring either, although it wasn�t her freckles that transfixed him. His mouth tightened into a hard line. He couldn�t believe it. They had actually found someone worse than Mrs. Lippett.
"You�ve no experience," Duncan said, struggling to swallow his beginning-to-boil temper. "If I may be so rude as to inquire, Miss Alma, what in hell makes you think you�re capable of running this kind of asylum?"
"Oh, but I�m not," Alma simply said. "I never said that I was. In fact, I�m pretty much here against my will. No one else would take the job, you see. So until a more accomplished replacement can be located, my father is of the opinion that this would be a good way for me to�how did he say it�build character, learn responsibility, shed some of my selfishness, and develop compassion for my fellow man. That sort of thing. And since he has purchased a seat upon the Board of Directors, I�m fairly well stuck here until further notice."
It was all Duncan could do not to close his eyes and groan. And then it was all he could do to keep from erupting out of his chair like a volcano.
She must have glimpsed the internal bubbling in his black-as-a-thundercloud expression, for she also hastened to assure him, "But just because I don�t want to be here, don�t think for a minute that I won�t take my supervisory duties seriously. I promise you, I will. Right up until I�m replaced. In fact, after touring this detestable facility, I�ve already hatched within my brain the ideas for several very desperately needed reforms."
As though he had a colony of ants scurrying about in his trousers, Duncan shifted in his chair. Then he shifted again, fighting to keep from growling as he asked, "And what kind of reforms are those?"
"Well, let me think." Alma steepled her fingers and pursed her lips in thought. "I suppose my first change will likely be in regards to braids."
"Braids," Duncan echoed, his tone utterly flat and without the slightest inflection.
"Yes. Have you seen my poor girls? They are all slant-eyed, their hair has been monkey-wrenched so tightly behind their ears. And don�t get me started on the ears," she said with a flap of her hand. "I swear, in all my born days, I don�t believe I have ever seen so many ugly pairs all in one place. They stick straight out. It�s dreadful, really. Completely unattractive."
"I don�t give a hang if they have becoming ears or not," Duncan snapped. "My concerns are for their stomachs and their overall health, something which has been overlooked in this place now for far too long! I want to know, Miss Burke, what you�re going to do about that!"
"I assure you," Alma said firmly, "there is nothing I take more seriously than the health of the little ones now within my charge. Which is why I have declared that the windows of the barracks should be thrown wide open. You can never have too much fresh air."
"Are you daft? It�s the middle of winter!" he protested.
"They have hot bricks and plenty of warm blankets on their beds at night. A little fresh air won�t kill them."
Duncan was shocked by her airy dismissal. "Pneumonia bloody well will!"
Now Alma blinked, appearing to notice his alarm. "Doctor MacRae, you cannot think that I mean to have the windows open at night, do you? Only during the day, to freshen the barracks. Why, if I had them open all night, the beds nearest the windows would be completely snowed in by morning."
"Whereas the children shouldn�t mind a bit having to shovel their beds out before they lie down on them at night?"
"Are you always this argumentative?" she asked him curiously. "Here you are, growling out demands for reforms and yet you don�t seem very happy with any of the important ones that I�ve come up with. Since you aren�t concerned with ears, I�ll bet you haven�t bothered yourself to notice how my girls are forced to wear scratchy red petticoats, either?"
"Pet�" Duncan shifted in his chair, grabbing the arms as he echoed incredulously, "Petticoats?!"
"How any girl is supposed to preserve her self-respect while wearing red petticoats that hang an irregular inch longer than her blue-checkered gingham dress, I just don�t know. Are you sure you don�t want some tea?"
"Miss Burke!" Duncan stood up. He drew an attempt at a deep and calming breath. "I have never heard such a spout of nonsense in all my life! You are frivolous, rattlepated and totally unfit for this position of trust. The Board of Directors is truly mad for having sent you here! You should know that I intend to send a letter posthaste, demanding to have you removed from office!"
"Splendid!" Alma sat back with a smile. "And here I thought we�d not get along. With any luck, the Board of Directors shall get both our letters at the same time and have no choice but to be rid of us both. Here, let me walk you to your car."
Duncan blinked at her in surprise as she came back around her desk. "Do I understand you correctly? You�re looking forward to being dismissed?"
"Oh, absolutely!" She opened the door for him and followed the doctor out into the hall. "This place isn�t fit for children, much less for me. If I didn�t stand to go to jail for it, I would be here every night at the stroke of twelve to help every last one of the poor dears escape from this evil place."
"I�ll admit the building is run down, but I hardly think Caxton evil."
"Well, it is. Hot and stuffy, and�ugh, lord!�just smell the odor in this hall!"
He followed her to the stairs. "One would think evil to smell less like antiseptic and more like sulfur."
"Which only goes to prove why you are no more fit to be Caxton�s resident doctor than I am fit to be its superintendent. In which case, it�s only fair to warn you that I also intend to write the Board and request a new doctor."
At that, Duncan stopped at the top step to glare at Alma, who continued blissfully on as though she hadn�t noticed. "And what reason do you have to do that, might I ask?"
"Because you are as polished and as brilliant and as charming as a tombstone, which is not at all what one expects in a visiting doctor for children. Personally, I believe doctors should be fat."
"Yes. Fat men are happy men. You, sir, look as if you�re fresh from an autopsy. No. You will not do for the Caxton orphanage."
They resumed their trek down the stairs together, although by now Duncan was grinding his teeth in poorly veiled aggravation and walking so quickly that he passed her. "And I happen to think red petticoats are cheerful, warm, and hygienic."
"Which also proves that not all doctors are wise."
Duncan stopped where he was on the stairs. He snapped around to face her with near military precision and a sharp click of his heels. "You, Miss Burke," he stated crisply, "don�t need to be sent home as much as you need to be taken across the knee and given a good sound spanking!"
Alma froze one step above him. She blinked at him, her surprise melting into the first signs of irritation. "How dare you!"
"You may not have asked to come here," Duncan told her sharply, "but here you are and here you�ll stay until someone is sent to replace you! That puts you in a position of trust that you damn well better take seriously. Because if I, for one second, begin to think you�re engaging in a strategy of careless decision-making to expedite your release from the burdens of managing this facility, then I will come to your office, I will turn you across my knee, and I will paddle a sense of responsibility into your errant backside, something your father should have done before he sent you here!"
War was declared right there on that innocent looking stairwell, not three steps from the bottom.
It's very fun story. Very good the character Sadie.
Sadie is a young woman, utterly unequipped to handle the orphanage she has been instructed to run. She had many ideas about what she should change, but many are in conflict with the ideas of the doctor, Duncan. He has ideas about what changes need to be made too, and he is not above punishing her to make her see his point. Together they are exactly what the orphanage needs, but first they will have to learn to tolerate each other.
I normally despise senseless punishments, but I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! :D I have a thing for orphanages and this book totally tickled my funny bone. I don't know why. I just loved it. I wanted a series based on these characters instead of a fairly short story.
I have conflicting thoughts on this book. I normally enjoy Maren Smith's book however this one missed the mark for me. The story just didn't flow well for me and I could never really get into it. Although the purpose of the book of was suppose to be about love it was more about the punishments. The punishments didn't convey love. This story had a lot of potential but didn't quite reach it.
I am torn in my review on this book. The writing and character development, as well as the plotline is great, so in that respect, I would give five stars. Yet, I spent half the book quite upset with some of the characters, to the point my husband almost told me to put the book away. So for that frustration, I'd give it three stars. So over all, I'd give it a 4. I found Sadie to be absolutely adorable, and just loved her character and it's growth, and Duncan, needed more love and understanding, but found by the end I quite enjoyed him, even though I felt there was a time or two he might have deserved his own spanking.
Ducan and Sadie sure get off on the wrong foot but eventually they realize that they both want what is best for the children and maybe right for each other too. They come together when necessary to save the day.
I just loved this story! I found Sadie to be a wonderful character! I actually laughed out loud at some of the things she said to Duncan about her ideas for the orphanage! Talk about feisty!! Their relationship was perfect: the bickering back and forth, the sexual chemistry, and the spanking!!! Very hot and very fun to read!
With how much I have loved the few Maren Smith books I have read, I have to admit, this one threw me. I spent half the time reading it wanting to seriously choke and beat the good doctor. He cared for her, yet he never made that apparent to her as he spanked her time and again with her thinking he hated her. He uses her, and isn't straight with her. Thankfully things get better as the book goes on, but her never does really soften up that much. I really think he didn't spend any time ever trying to figure out why she did the things she did, I was disappointed on several spankings that he never let her say why she'd done what she'd done. The writing though was good, and it really was great to see Alma grow to love the orphanage and the kids in it.