An Improper Situation (Sanborn-Malloy Historical Romance Series, Book One)

BOOK: An Improper Situation (Sanborn-Malloy Historical Romance Series, Book One)
7.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“Delicately crafted, deliciously told. A book that transports you to a time and place from which you won’t want to return.”

Award-winning, bestselling author Marliss Melton



Improper Situation


With her chestnut hair and striking green eyes, Charlotte should be the catch of Spring City, CO. But she wears her independence like armor, cloaking herself behind her male
nom de plume
. A 24-year-old confirmed spinster, she won’t risk heartbreak; that is, until a handsome stranger arrives.

Boston lawyer Reed Malloy has a mission—deliver two orphaned children to their Colorado cousin. He's not prepared for Charlotte being utterly beguiling, or for her flat-out refusal to raise her kin. It will take some firsthand persuasion to complete his legal duty and resolve more tantalizing issues.

When Charlotte forsakes everything familiar and is welcomed into the high society of the Boston Brahmins, concealed malice abounds. With the intrusion of sinister forces and scorned women—and with passions ablaze—Reed and Charlotte find themselves in a very
Improper Situation








Book One: Sanborn-Malloy Series



Sydney Jane Baily




Cat Whisker Press






This book
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


Copyright 2012 Sydney Jane Baily


Cover: Dar Albert, Wicked Smart Designs

Copyeditor: Victoria Piercey


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the
copyright holder, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review or article.


This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


For more information, contact Cat Whisker Press through the contact page at


This book is
also available in print.




An Improper Situation




Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty


K PEEK . . .






Dedicated to my dad

James George Baily

whom I miss every single day.

Many times I call you.







I want to thank the following people for all their help:

My three beta readers—Toni Echols (best big sister ever), Holly Meyerhoff, and Pamela Schwotzer; Gregory Smart, librarian at the Boston Public Library, who found the necessary information about and images of Boston in the 1880s; copy editor Victoria Piercey, who found seriously egregious errors; Marliss Melton, who not only is my dear friend but also paved the way as a bestselling author of romantic suspense; my husband and my children for putting up with me sitting at my desk typing, staring, typing, typing, staring, typing. And, of course, my mom.

I couldn’t have written this book without all of you.




Chapter One


Spring City, Colorado



Charlotte heard the wagon wheels and the horse’s hooves from where she sat at her desk and raised her head, a frown crossing her otherwise clear features.

“Blazes!” she exclaimed. She was not expecting anyone. Except for Sarah Cuthins, the doctor’s wife, Charlotte and her neighbors weren’t, well, neighborly enough with each other for an uninvited visit. And she could tell just by listening that it wasn’t Sarah’s buggy coming down the road.

She couldn’t see the wagon even if she tried to look out the window, as books were piled high in front of it. Books were, in fact, the dominant feature in the study—on history, modern and ancient languages, classical architecture, mathematics, even oceanology, entomology, and geology. And in the middle of them all, Charlotte sat at her large desk, strewn with papers and with a faded globe perched precariously on one corner.

She lifted her fingers from the keyboard of her typewriter. The invention itself was over a decade old, but her machine—the one extravagant purchase she’d made that year—was new. Anything that took her from it was of great annoyance.

Standing up, she absentmindedly tucked behind her ear one strand of hair that seemed to shimmer with all the colors of autumn. Then she reconsidered and twisted the rest of her waist-length hair up in a loose knot. It wasn’t tidy, but it was better than going to the door all undone, she thought.

The wagon was obviously stopping at her door, so she had no choice but to greet its passengers. Lord, she hoped no one wanted coffee. For that matter, she hoped no one wanted anything, as the kitchen was as bare of food as she was of hospitality and time for interruptions.

Charlotte crossed the well-worn yellow and blue rug, automatically stepping over the small hole in the floorboard as she strode into the hall. It was cluttered with her shoes, coat, umbrella, and various knickknacks, though she didn’t even notice the comfortable mess.

When a sharp knock resounded from the other side of the door, startlingly loud in the silence, she froze. Then she took a deep breath. 

Coming.” Charlotte hoped she didn’t sound as irritated as she felt.
No one respected other people’s deadlines!
She yanked open the door and then nearly slammed it shut with surprise. Instead, she stepped back with a murmured, “Oh, my!”

Before her was a tall, dark-haired man with the most piercing blue eyes she’d ever seen, dressed in a well-fitted suit of the neatest charcoal stripe. However, what caused her disconcertion was not his devilish good looks alone, but the two young children standing on either side of him.

The little girl, with two blond braids, was holding the man’s hand while the little boy, who had hair remarkably similar in color to Charlotte’s own and who barely came above the man’s knee, simply clutched the man’s well-tailored pant leg, causing a severe pucker.

I understand this is the Sanborn homestead.”

His voice brought her attention back to him. She looked up dazedly, her own sparkling green eyes blinking at the late spring sunlight behind him. Perhaps the whole apparition of handsome man and small children might just disappear if she willed it.

am Charlotte Sanborn.” Automatically, she stuck out her right hand to the stranger.

He looked at her hand, his face surprised.

“The writer?”

Now she looked stunned.
“How on earth . . . ?” she began. No one except the few people in Spring City who cared to find out knew that she was “Charles” Sanborn, the acclaimed writer.

Excuse me,” he added, “I thought you would be older. That is, I’m delighted to meet you.” A smile crossed his features for the first time, and he took her extended hand in his free one, and with a firm grasp, shook it.

Charlotte felt a shock of warmth and strength and realized it had been a long while since she’d touched someone else’s skin.

“It is an honor and a pleasure,” he continued. “I’ve read much of your work.” His voice was as warm as his hand, and she flushed.

Charlotte was used to praise, having been hailed as a voice of her time for the past few years by the editors with whom she had contact; she was successful in her own uncelebrated and quiet way—of course under the guise of her pseudonym.

However, knowing that this man had sat down with her work in his hands caused her to feel strangely exposed.

Well, thank you,” she said and stopped. She was waiting. He was waiting. The children were waiting but less patiently. The little boy tugged on the man’s pant leg.

Are we goin’ in?” he asked, looking not at Charlotte but up at the tall man, who gave him a smile that stirred Charlotte’s sentiment.

Oh, I am sorry,” she murmured, still thinking of the man’s genuine smile. “Where are my manners?” The little girl just stared at her as if she was wondering the very same thing, and Charlotte quickly moved aside to let them enter. She felt for all the world as if she had suddenly stepped out of her own life. A few moments ago, she would never have imagined a man and two children standing in her entryway.

I am sorry to barge in on you, Miss Sanborn,” he began, as his eyes took in the untidiness and the disrepair in one quick glance, “but once we arrived in Spring City, I discovered, of course, that there was no telephone system in place as yet.”

They must be from the east
, she concluded. “I think it will be a while yet before those of us in Colorado have the benefits of Mr. Bell’s invention.” Having exhausted that topic, she waited again for him to explain himself.

We hope you are not too inconvenienced, but we tried to be here as close to the appointed time as possible, barring a few mishaps along the way.” This caused both the children to giggle, apparently having been the cause of some of the mishaps.

Charlotte frowned.
“The appointed time, sir?”

The trains were running late along the Topeka-Santa Fe line; a Pullman sleeper had overturned,” he stated.

She nodded, finding nothing more to say, since the entire conversation so far was making no sense to her, and she usually prided herself on her quick understanding.

After a long moment, he frowned. “Miss Sanborn, the children are tired. We stopped only briefly in Spring City to get directions, and I’m sure they’d benefit from a short nap while we talk about their situation. Then, perhaps, some supper would be in order.”

Supper?” she repeated. The situation wasn’t getting any better. Why would this family come to her house and demand a place to sleep and eat?

She pressed her hand to the side of her head. She’d been working steadily for days to meet her editor’s deadline and she was plum tuckered out. Charlotte was sure that was the reason none of this was coming clear to her.

“Miss Sanborn, is everything all right?” Even this tall, handsome stranger seemed a bit agitated now. His dark eyebrows formed the oddest pattern of straight and wavy lines as he frowned.

Everything is just peart,” she began, “except I must acknowledge the corn. I haven’t the slightest idea who you are.” She felt better for confessing that.

BOOK: An Improper Situation (Sanborn-Malloy Historical Romance Series, Book One)
7.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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