Trapped in a crevice after a carriage accident, Amanda Downy is not sure whether she'll ever see the light of day again. With her tongue loosened by a fellow passenger's flask of brandy, she reveals several well-guarded secrets about her life as a governess at Colonel Watson's residence, including the fact that she falsified her references to gain her employment.
The next morning Amanda is horrified when she finds that the passenger who saved her life after the carriage crash is sitting at the breakfast table at Colonel Watson’s estate, and it appears that he is the long-absent Colonel himself! Amanda is certain that she will be immediately dismissed, but the Colonel has a different sort of discipline in mind for her…
The Colonel soon learns that in spite of the deceitful manner with which she obtained the position, Miss Downy is an excellent governess and is much loved by his children. After a firm dose of the leather strap on her bare bottom, he lets her know that she may keep her position as long as she is truthful with him in the future. As time passes, though, the Colonel finds himself thinking of Amanda as he has not thought about any woman since his beloved wife passed away. Though he has no intention of ever marrying again, he cannot deny his growing need for her.
Amanda has a longstanding dislike for stiff military men, yet she warms to the Colonel, discovering that underneath his gruff exterior he is kind and generous. As she wonders if the attraction is mutual, another suitor makes his interest known. Should she accept his offer? Or should she wait to see if the Colonel will ever make his move?
She looked up in surprise. “Colonel!”
He reined in the stallion and turned the large horse around so that his left side faced her.
“What are you doing, riding in the rain?” she asked in astonishment.
“Looking for you!” he exclaimed and she felt a rush of guilt that he had felt it necessary to come and rescue her. She should have listened to his advice on the weather. Would he hold it against her that she hadn't?
He reached down and caught her around the waist, easily lifting her to sit side-saddle in front of him. His strength took her breath away—he was a large, muscular man. She sat stiffly, too surprised to speak. His arm was wrapped around her waist, his left knee supporting her legs. He drew her closer to him. She had never been so close to a man in her life. But that wasn't true—there was the time when he held her after the whipping. And when he'd protected her from falling rubble during the carriage accident. Thinking of both those incidents gave her an unusual fluttering feeling in her low belly.
“You're freezing!” he accused.
She was shivering—there was no denying it. She stammered, “No, I'm fine. But thank you for coming for me, I am truly grateful.” She didn't feel courageous enough to look over her shoulder at him, considering how close his face was to hers.
“You're welcome. Curses, you're really cold. I should have brought your cloak. Here, lean into me and see if you can't gain some warmth that way.”
Slowly, uncertainly, she leaned her back against his large chest, relaxing into his form and the motion of the stallion as he loped back. Her wet dress and petticoat stuck to her skin, providing no barrier at all to the heat of his flesh, which felt exceptionally warm against her chilled back.
“Is that better?” he asked, his mouth so close to her ear that she could feel the heat of his breath. His voice was low and rumbling. She had found it gruff before, but now it seemed deeply masculine—the embodiment of male strength and virility.