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The Lawman: Montana Men, Book 1

By: Vanessa Vale
Published By: Blushing Press
Copyright: �2015 by Blushing Books� and Vanessa Vale
6 Chapters / 27,032 Words
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Ellen Oldsmere, believing she'd killed an overly amorous suitor, agreed to become a mail order bride for a complete stranger in the Montana Territory in order to flee Minneapolis and avoid prosecution. When she arrives in August Point, her husband is all that she'd imagined, and then some. He's handsome, virile and sexually skilled. But there's a problem for this new bride; her new husband is also the town sheriff. How can she be married to a man who would surely arrest her if he found out her secret?

As the most eligible bachelor in town, Ryder Graves is determined to not fall prey small town mothers eager to match him with their marriage- hungry daughters. He wants more than what is available in August Point. His needs demand a wife meeting certain criteria women in town do not possess, so he seeks the help of an expert--a madame with a skill for matchmaking. When Eleanor arrives from Minnesota, she meets all of his expectations. She's also headstrong and defiant, requiring a stern spanking or two to teach her that - as the lawman of August Point - it is his job to keep her safe. It comes down to a matter of right from wrong. But his wife is not all she seems. Will he still want her when he learns the truth, or will his passion for the law make her face the consequences of her actions?

In this follow-up to her best-selling"Montana Maidens" series, author Vanessa Vale offers more of what readers have come to love with more hot power exchange and sex on the windswept Western plains.

Chapter One


I was to be the first. First out of the ridiculous sanctuary of this bumpy, stuffy, uncomfortable stagecoach and into the keeping of a complete stranger. Until death do us part. We had endured the arduous ride from Ft. Mandan - Caroline, Emily and me - and had become close friends, a sisterhood of sorts in our mutual fears of the life-changing decisions to become mail order brides.

"Just think, if we hadn't gone to Mrs. Bidwell's office, we never would have met," Caroline said in her soft lilt. She matched her voice - petite and shy.

Emily grasped her hand. "I couldn't agree more." She turned and shared her somewhat reassuring smile with me. "Although now that we're almost to August Point, I fear for you, Eleanor."

My stomach leapt toward my throat, not from another rut in the hard packed ground, but from the thought that soon, only minutes from now, I'd meet my husband. All three of us had wed by proxy in Mrs. Bidwell's office in Minneapolis to men in the far off Montana territory - men who had written to the older woman whose business was to find single, eligible and willing women to move west and marry complete strangers.I had no doubt finding women--unmarried and of childbearing age - in a wild and untamed land was a veritable impossibility. My new husband might be desperate, but not such as I.

Fleeing town wasn't a simple fancy of mine. Being questioned for murder - even if I was innocent - had me seeking the easiest avenue of escape. It had been self-defense; Allen Simmons had been intent on raping me. Bashing him on the head with a rock had only been to stop his assault, not kill him. Of course, his rich, socialite family would paint their son the victim, not me. There was no question the police gave their name substantial clout. I had none. I was just a plain woman he'd met at church and decided to court. Then one day, he'd decided that courting wasn't enough. He'd wanted more, much more than I'd been willing to give. I had no recourse, no way to save myself other than to flee before they found me and pinned his death on me.

Remembering a posting for mail order brides I'd seen once in the wanted section of the newspaper, I'd taken bold and furtive steps to Mrs. Bidwell's office as my means of escape. I had no choice, no alternative but to leave Minneapolis, to run as far away from the Simmons family as I could get. With little means, I could only get so far on my own. Being a mail order bride offered me the distance and the safety of obscurity. I invented a new name, Eleanor Adams, instead of my real name, Ellen Oldsmere, to prevent being followed, and to keep my travels across the country hidden from anyone wishing to follow. In the small confines of Mrs. Bidwell's office, petrified of being found, I'd met Caroline and Emily straightaway. Quickly matched to eager men, we were wed by proxy and before the ink was dry on the licenses, we were on our way to the West and new lands, new lives and new husbands.

I'd found myself looking over my shoulder the entire journey, fearful of being followed. Even as the distance grew, I remained wary and guarded about being hauled back to Minneapolis in handcuffs. It wasn't until the stagecoach driver yelled out that August Point was five minutes away that reality set in. I wasn't just escaping the Simmons family; I was meeting my husband.

"Fear for me?" I hadn't told the others of my illicit reasons for becoming a mail order bride; it was something of which I could never speak. "You are in a similar predicament, Emily, meeting a perfect stranger." The woman was lush and curvy with thick dark hair and equally dark eyes. She was quite beautiful, and if her new husband based Mrs. Bidwell's efforts on visage alone, the man would find her matchmaking skills exceptional. "I have both of you to send me off to see the man to whom I am matched. You have Caroline, and of course Caroline will be quite alone."

I was to disembark at August Point, Emily at the next stop on the line in Lewistown and Caroline a little further in Apex. We only knew our husband's names and destination.

Mine was engraved upon my mind. Ryder Graves. August Point.

I turned my gaze from the faces of my concerned friends and glanced out the open flap which let in the fresh air and an equally fair amount of dust. The land was verdant and green, the tall grass blowing in soft waves against the summer breeze. The sky was blue, dotted with fluffy clouds - nothing unusual for a beautiful day. What was unusual was that the sky went on forever. The vastness of it was impressive, so big, Urban life did not lend itself to any form of scenery. The few times I ventured into the country, trees abounded and blocked any kind of view. Here, only a few trees were to be seen and they hugged the banks of a river or creek, wise in their placement besides the constant nourishment.

Was I as smart as a rogue tree? My ridiculous comparison had me shaking my head, returning to reality. Was I venturing into an unknown that was worse than my options in Minneapolis? Could being married to a stranger in a strange land be worse than a Minneapolis brothel? Unfortunately, the answer was a definite yes.

What was Mr. Ryder Graves like? Was he handsome? Kind? Successful? For all I knew of the man, he was a lush with seven children. Perhaps he would beat me. Perhaps he smelled.

"August Point!" the driver shouted, his voice irascible and abrupt. He didn't care about our fates, only the end of the line where he'd rest, get fresh horses, and then make a return trip.

The pounding of the horses' hooves matched the frantic beating of my heart. My palms became damp and sweat dotted my brow. What had I chosen for myself? Panic set in, making it difficult to breathe. There was no escape. There was literally nowhere to go but into my destiny.

I darted a glance at the other two women trying to wear a brave face; their own turns soon followed and I didn't want them to become upset. We all leaned forward to look out the window and to get our first glimpse of the town, and my husband. No doubt our three heads poking out was a sight to see!

The town that came into view was small - tiny, really � with only a long row of clapboard buildings with a church steeple in the distance. Houses dotted the horizon. Several people were going about their day, shopping and working, but only one stood in front of the stopped stage.

Oh my. I swallowed my nervousness as best I could. This had to be Mr. Graves. Who else would be waiting?

"That's...him?" Caroline whispered, eyes wide. "He's so, um, big!"

�"He's not sixty, Eleanor. That was one of your worries," Emily replied, speaking in quiet tones.

Most definitely not. Thirty, perhaps. I started at his dusty, work worn boots and worked my way up his very male body. His legs were long and lean, thigh muscles thick and taut beneath snug pants. Narrow waist. A white shirt with the sleeves rolled up showed tanned, corded forearms sprinkled with sandy colored hair. Big hands. Oh my.

His shoulders were so wide; this man would loom over me like a veritable giant! His face was hidden in shadow beneath a wide brimmed hat, but I could see a square jaw, darkened by a new growth of whiskers. His hair curled from beneath the hat to touch the collar of his shirt. Just looking at the man had my heart beating fast once again, and this time not in nervousness. Many of my wonderings over the hard packed miles about my new husband were instantly wiped away, like a wet cloth across a school slate. He didn't have a paunch, nor jowls. He wasn't shorter than I. He appeared to have his hair and most likely his teeth as well. He wasn't elderly, and no children were clinging to him.

What he was was very handsome. Bigger than men in Minneapolis, clearly hard working, weather worn and he somehow met every visceral need my body desired in a husband. Nothing like Allen Simmons. My body responded to the mere sight of him with familiar stirrings I felt and encouraged alone in bed when my fingers played with the secret spot between my thighs. I was attracted to him in a way I'd never felt with a man before - and I hadn't even seen his eyes!

Before the three of us could ogle further, he stepped up and opened the stage door, the remainder of the kicked up dust settling at his feet. He removed his hat. Leaning his head in, he took in the three of us in turn. "Miss Adams?"

Oh my. His eyes were the lightest shade of blue, like ice on a Minnesota pond. His hair was a light brown with hints of gold, as if burnished by the sun. I wondered if it would feel as silky soft as it looked.

My mouth was so dry at the sight of him I couldn't speak at first, even forgot what my new name was. Eleanor. I was Eleanor now. I shifted forward on the hard wood seat just as Caroline and Emily each grabbed one of my arms and pushed me forward. I stumbled a bit awkwardly and blurted, "Yes." I cleared my throat. "Mr. Graves, I presume?"

He grinned, showing straight white teeth as he looked me over, just as I had him. I couldn't be making an exceptional first impression; I was travel weary and dusty. My hair was twisted up only as securely as the pins that bound it. The jarring of the stage for hours on end had sent tendrils escaping and falling down over my shoulders. I felt weary and I knew I looked just so.

"Yes, ma'am. Let me help you down. McCallister is stopping only long enough to get your bags before continuing on. He turned to my companions. “Ladies," he said the last as he nodded to Emily and Caroline in greeting. Clearly he was familiar with the stagecoach driver to call him by his given name.

I took his proffered hand, mine so small and dainty in his large one. I could feel callouses on his palm, yet his skin was warm and his hold gentle. I looked up into his eyes and my breath caught in my throat. He was...virile. Something dark flared in his eyes and it had my nipples hardening beneath my corset. I wished I could peer into his mind at this moment to know his thoughts. Were they as carnal as mine?

I alighted the stage to bright sunshine and fresh air. Mr. Graves was so much taller that I had to tilt my head back to hold his gaze. Without the protection of his hat, his face was open to my gaze. He had a striking brow, making his fair eyes even more intense. His nose had a slight crook in the bridge, as if it had once been broken. The slight imperfection only added to his ruggedly handsome features. His mouth was full and the smile he shared with me was warm and, dare I say, friendly?

"Eleanor!" Caroline called out from behind me.

My eyes widened as I realized how quickly I'd forgotten about the two other women. "Oh, I must say goodbye to my friends."

Mr. Graves released his hold on my hand and I turned back to the stage. Mr. McCallister handed my bag to Mr. Graves - it was all of the meager possessions I had from my hasty departure - -and remounted the front to continue on to the next stop.

"Will I see you again?" I asked them, worried that I would be completely alone for the long term.

Both women nodded their heads, blonde and dark tresses stirring. "Of course! We're nearby, in Montana Territory standards. Once settled, we’ll send word to each other. All right?" Emily looked at both Caroline and me, resolute. She was the stalwart one of the three of us, sure in her thoughts.

"Yes," I replied, trying to be as positive as she.

"Of course," Caroline murmured, wiping a tear from her eye. I feared for her more than Emily in her new life, sensitive and quiet as she was.

Emily leaned forward. "I hope my husband is as appealing as yours." Her eyes gleamed with amusement and a hint of envy as she glanced briefly over my shoulder to look at Mr. Graves. "I have a good feeling about him, Eleanor," she whispered.

I had a feeling about him, too, and it felt akin to lust.

Mr. McCallister flicked the reins and the stage lurched forward. Mr. Graves stepped up and slammed the door shut, preventing the ladies from toppling out, even as he pulled me back from the path of the large wheels. My traveling companions waved from the window and I was soon left alone with my husband - my very large, very handsome husband. I slowly turned to face him. This time I noticed something I had missed before � an important detail that took me by surprise now that I stood facing with it. My eyes widened and I felt the frantic beat of my heart. Pinned to my new husband’s broad chest was a tin star. I was married to the town sheriff.

Rhonda on 11/02/2015 09:31pm
This is the 1st in the Montana Men series. I actually read the 2nd, The Cowboy first and both books stand alone. I loved the premise of mail-order brides. Women brave and sometimes desperate seeking a new beginning. The chemistry between Ellie and Ryder sizzled. The only problem, it ended too soon. Looking forward to reading book 3 The Outlaw. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
gail on 08/30/2015 09:20am
very good reading ..could not stop reading it,,, enjoyed the spanking scenes,really entertainig.
JANE A on 07/16/2015 05:46pm
I'm in love all over again. The dominant male in this new series by this author is simply dreamy. The character development of the heroine in particular is excellent. Another explicitly steamy series, I can't wait for the next book.
asgoodrich on 07/05/2015 03:54pm
The Lawman is a quick read with a well-developed story, a good amount of spanking, and some seriously hot sex. Ms. Vale does a very nice job of providing us enough background for both Ellen and Ryder to move the story along without getting bogged down in unnecessary details. The reader first meets Ellen shortly before she is to arrive in August Point, Montana and meet her husband. Through her inner musings, we learn that Ellen was forced to flee Minneapolis to avoid unjust murder charges and because of the circumstances she changed her name and became a mail order bride. Suffice it to say, when she meets her husband for the very first time she, her apprehension over starting a life with a man she knows almost nothing about is quickly replaced by the trepidation of learning that he is the town sheriff. For his part, Ryder is quite pleased with the looks of his new bride and even more so with her response to him once he whisks her home to consummate their marriage. While he disliked the circumstances that led to it, he was even happier with her emotional and physical responses the first time he found it necessary to spank her as punishment for not listening to him and endangering her safety. I am quite impressed with how much story Ms. Vale managed to pack into this 90 page novella. Although not quite insta-love, the intimacy that develops between Ellen and Ryder occurs rather quickly but does so in such a way that it feels right. Even though she was a virgin, Ellen found that she enjoyed her husband’s attentions and proclivities for more than just vanilla sex (not the term used in the book) quite a lot and their shared passions helped strengthen their bond. While the sex was hot, one of my favorite scenes was when Ellen defended Ryder’s honor – it certainly brought a smile to my face. As expected, Ellen must face the consequences of what caused her to flee Minneapolis and it turned out far better than she dreamed because Ryder stood by her – after a serious punishment scene that is. I really liked The Lawman and thanks to Ms. Vale’s writing, I can now add another factor which enables me to enjoy romances set in the Old West – a healthy dose of spanking. I have added The Cowboy and The Outlaw to my wishlist so that I can find out the fates of the other ladies on the coach with Ellen and in hopes of catching up with Ellen and Ryder again. I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Reviewed by Angela at Crystal's Many Reviewers!
Denise on 06/08/2015 04:27pm
Of the Montana series, definitely my favorite. Very cut and dry in ways, which is okay; but sometimes unrealistic. That she simply let him do everything he wanted to do, without any questions through me. At times she is very strong and then she does an about face which doesn't go with the character. Was glad this is what she liked and wanted; unlike the maiden series where the woman were drugged into doing what the men wanted. Still would like to see a change in that series. All in all a good read.
Laurel Lasky on 03/24/2015 04:54pm
Vanessa Vale books get better and better. This one, The Lawman, is my favorite. Much has already been written in reviews and in the overview. I won't be redundant and repeat what was already written. It had a wonderful storyline, some funny things, romance and spanking. It's just a delightful read.
ScarlettPhoenix on 03/20/2015 08:49am
Ryder and Ellie make great characters. Ellie (a mail order bride) is running away from what she thinks is a murder that she committed out of self preservation and is terrified when she finds out her husband is a Sheriff! Things couldn't get worse for her until he starts to spank her when she tries to 'help' him during a situation in the county jail. He administers swift justice in the form of his hand to her behind and that's when the sparks fly. And they keep flying through the entire book. Their chemistry is great. Ryder is an alpha all the way and he plays Ellie like a fine fiddle. Ellie responds with all of the passion and independence she can muster. The only thing I would have liked is for the book to be a little longer. Steamy sexy and spanking hot!
Marybeth on 03/15/2015 07:54pm
A wonderful new series by Vanessa Vale. Ryder is sheriff and he is looking for a wife. When he was in Minneapolis, he asked the Madame of the local brothel to look for a bride for him. She needed to be a virgin, but he also wanted a woman who would enjoy sex. Eleanor is running away. She thinks that she killed a prominent man who tried to rape her. She agreed to marry Ryder and was sent on her way to become his wife with two others. They start their married life right away and Ellie discovers that she is very passionate. There is a HEA, but the journey there is a lot of fun. My only complaint is that the story is short. I would love for it to be longer. I am looking forward to the other two stories in this series. I give this 5 stars.
Cassie on 03/11/2015 09:51am
I enjoyed this book, but wasn’t overwhelmed by it. It’s not bad. The writing is a little simplistic, and the characters, while likable, are not terribly fleshed out. The plot is tried and true, with a woman on the run sending herself off as a mail-order bride, and the conflict obvious when the man she’s married turns out to be the town sheriff. There are some interesting twists, in that the matchmaker was a madame and the sheriff had some unique requirements in a wife. And I do appreciate that, despite the set-up, the book does not fall into the trap of becoming overly melodramatic. The plot plays out well, and the romance is enjoyable. Overall, a fun read and a nice love story, if a bit short and lacking in depth. *I recieved this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.*
Brittany Barnes on 03/09/2015 03:29am
Another amazing series from Vanessa Vale. This chick is on fire with every book she has written. I loved the Montana Maiden series, and cant wait for more from the Montana Men series!
JK on 03/08/2015 01:27pm
This really was a hit for me! I just loved the back story on Ellie, and how brave she was to completely up and change her life to be a mail order bride! But then again; desperate times DO call for desperate measure!! Her groom turns out to be the town sheriff and it just gets better from there! This was a sexy, erotic, and fun little spanking journey!
anon on 03/08/2015 12:26pm
Vale is getting better and better as she writes about these Montana couples. Looking for a mail order bride through a Madame is a delightful detail that, I feel, deserves a story on its own even as it leads to a successful coupling for the town sheriff. Ryder is the strong alpha male who takes very good care of his lady. As with the other stories, this is a fun read that delights.
Margaret Corcoran on 03/07/2015 01:00pm
I really enjoyed this storybut it is short and not up to the standard of Montanna Maidens Series. Still worth the read
Katy Beth McKee on 03/07/2015 11:33am
Ellen has decided to come because she feels she has no choice. Ryder is her new husband and the sheriff. They feel a connection right away but Ellie has to deal with her guilt. She's strong and well suited to her new life.
S. Kidd on 03/06/2015 11:54pm
Truly steamy and sweet story of an naive mail order bride, fleeing from trouble with the law, and falling in lust at first sight with her new husband, who happens to be the town sheriff. He is taken with her as well, and hopes that she’ll be okay with the things he has planned for her. She’s a beauty, he’s a gorgoues, manly dominant and although they don’t know each other - she loves his control as much as he loves weilding it. Well written and very sexy - it’s a great read that I highly recommend.
fp on 03/05/2015 01:32pm
I love Vanessa's books, this one included. I look forward to reading the next two girls in the series. I have to say, though, Catherine and Tessa are still my favs as I like some exhibitionism!
Meg on 03/02/2015 07:25pm
Eleanor steps from a stagecoach, wed to a man she had never met. Ryder was everything she could have dreamed of – well, except for the fact that he wore a tin star on his chest. Mrs. Bidwell, the woman back in Minnesota that married her by proxy before sending her west to Montana, had left that little detail out. While she was instantly attracted in all ways to the rugged Sheriff, and he her, what would happen when he discovered she was wanted for murder? Ryder is certain he has found the perfect wife and would have paid far more for the beautiful redhead. Not only is she as passionate as he could wish, she submitted to his dominance from day one. When a letter arrived from the matchmaker, he could not believe what he learns. Would his sense of duty tear him away from the woman he’d already fallen in love with?
Redrabbitt on 03/01/2015 07:50pm
I loved the relationship between Ryder and Ellie. Ryder Graves, Sheriff and dominate man with baser proclivities, used Mrs. Bidwell, a Madame in Minnesota to help locate mail order brides. Ellie is actually Ellen Oldsmere, orphaned child that had been well-bred but finds herself running for her life, and decides to be a mail order bride, changing her name to Eleanor Adams. The story has its twist and turns, the dialogue and interaction steamy as Ryder initiates his wife into marriage to meet his baser needs. This story has spankings, bondage, anal play and explicit sex scenes. This is a series and we met at the beginning of the story two other mail order brides on the same coach, so we will be seeing stories of Emily and Caroline.
SH on 03/01/2015 03:32pm
Oh, what a great book! Ryder is pure alpha and HOT and when he and Ellen meet the sparks fly. Ellen is quite the lucky girl indeed. Can't wait for book 2!

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