Sue Lyndon's “A Firm Husband” is about a 20 year old girl in the Old West that is looking to expand her horizons and see more of the world. Knowing her family wouldn't approve, Clara Sutton decides that the best way to achieve her goal is to sneak out in the middle of the night. Four days into her trip, she locks eyes with a man she knows is no stranger. Not knowing that Mr. William Davies was sent to fetch her, Clara lies to him about her intended whereabouts and travel arrangements. Mr. Davies reveals his purpose, essentially crushing Clara's dreams. Unfortunately, Clara did not realize that her actions would have additional consequences:
The tension was too much, and Clara cast a sorrowful glance towards her luggage while Mr. Davies loomed over her awaiting a response. She couldn't return to the ranch and face her pa and aunt. Not until she saw the world. Mr. Davies had obviously spent a great many years outside of Buffalo. Some of her friends had visited the east coast. It wasn't fair.
Before there was time to respond to Mr. Davies' threat, the steam engine whistled. The train was leaving, and her dreams were being taken along with it.
“You bastard!” she yelled. “You unbelievable bastard!” She had missed the train and it was all William Davies' fault. She raised her chin even higher to meet his icy glare. Oh, how she hated the man!
The next words out of Mr. Davies mouth were eerily calm, yet they could've moved mountains. “You ran away from home, Miss Sutton. You boldly lied to me when we met in the street. And now you have refused my request to lower your voice, not to mention the cursing,” he said. “I am going to teach you a lesson, Miss Sutton - over my knee.”
Clara's eyes bulged of their own accord and she lowered her chin a notch, suddenly short of breath. She was very aware of Mr. Davies - physically - and second guessed her prior boldness. He was tall and muscular, his starched white shirt hugging his broad chest underneath a leather vest. His hair color matched that of his eyes. And the resolve in those dark brown eyes was frightening.
“Mr. Davies, you are not my pa or my husband,” she said, her voice cracking over the last few words. Damn the man for adding trouble to her already guilty conscience!
“Consider yourself lucky that I'm not your husband,” he said. “Because if I was, you'd get a hard spanking each and every time you cursed or raised your voice at me.”
Clara opened her mouth, but was rendered speechless under his stern gaze, so she stepped back in hopes that physical retreat would ease the gathering tension. To her relief, Mr. Davies moved away. But as she glanced mournfully out the window, the next words he spoke stilled her breath.
“Miss Sutton, I meant it when I said I was going to teach you a lesson. You're going to get the spanking you deserve. Come here. Now.” His voice was dangerously steady, dangerously certain with no room for compromise.
“Like I said, Mr. Davies, you're not my pa or my husband. You have no right.” She was suffocating. She had to get out of this room!
“Your father wired me a message that you were headed for the Union Pacific and to stop you by all means. He also asked me to return you to Buffalo personally if I caught you in time. That makes me your guardian for the next few days, and as your guardian I have every right to give you a good spanking if warranted.”
“But . . .”
“No more stalling.” He motioned for her to join him on the edge of the bed. Clara remained frozen near the window, completely horrified.
“Please, Mr. Davies,” she said, trying to sound humble, “I promise I won't curse or raise my voice at you again.”
“I said no more stalling,” he admonished. “If I have to come get you, I will pull down your pantaloons and spank your bare bottom.”
Determined not to allow Mr. Davies to lay a hand on her, Clara moved slowly towards the bed where he waited, but zipped towards the door when she was just a few steps away. If she could get into the hallway, then she could scream for help. But just as she twisted the knob, strong arms wrapped around her waist, pulling her back inside.
“I warned you,” he growled in her ear. She fought against his hold, but it was to no avail. The door was bolted from the top now, and Mr. Davies was winning.
A sharp smack suddenly stung Clara's bottom, overtop her dress. Before she could protest further, she was forced across Mr. Davies lap on the bed. One leg wrapped around her ankles and he expertly pinned her flailing hands down. She was trapped, and he meant to teach her a lesson.
Despite the continued struggle, Mr. Davies pushed her dress up, swiftly peeling down the white pantaloons - as promised. The cool air of the room brushed her bottom and then . . . smack! Mr. Davies was spanking her, true to his word.
“Please!” Clara yelled. “Let me go!” She twisted and tried lifting her head, but was pinned too firmly in place. This can't be happening! she thought. Her bottom burned terribly under Mr. Davies swift blows, and her creamy white flesh quickly reddened. No area was left unpunished, not even the backs of her poor, tender thighs.
“You will mind me,” smack, “during the next few days,” smack, “or you will face the consequences,” smack, “under my hand,” smack. Clara's bottom burned something fierce and it was difficult to breath, let alone speak.
It was a heavy spanking. Heavy, and swift, and long. Her eyes burned as hot tears gathered and finally fell onto the coverlet. It wasn't long before her back heaved as she sobbed freely through the painful humiliation. Again and again, Mr. Davies' hand came down forcefully upon her exposed backside, smack after smack with no end in sight.
Clara's sobs eventually lulled to a whimper, and she went from struggling to laying limp across his lap. She'd spent all her energy trying to escape, and the spanking went on and on.
“Please, Mr. Davies,” she begged through her tears, “Please . . . I can't take anymore.”
He slapped the lower curve of her bottom several more times, hitting the same spot repeatedly. She cried out in pain, wondering how much more she would have to endure. But to her relief, Mr. Davies paused, his hand resting upon her punished flesh. She was still crying, despite the reprieve. Never in her life had she experienced such a long, painful spanking. Clara truly pitied the woman who would one day marry Mr. Davies.
“Do you have any idea how worried your pa is, Miss Sutton?” His voice was accusatory and his words stabbed at the center of her conscience, reinvigorating those second thoughts about running away and leaving her with terrible guilt all at once. She sobbed harder.
“I'm sorry. I . . . I know I shouldn't have run away like that,” Clara finally admitted. Her pa was good to her, and life on the ranch hadn't been awful in the least. She suddenly missed Pa and Aunt Martha more than anything.
“Lying to me in the street was a bad idea too, Miss Sutton.” He smacked her glowing backside again, once but very hard. “And your behavior towards me in this hotel room has been atrocious.” Another single, but very firm, slap fell across her reddened bottom. Clara gasped.
“I'm sorry I cursed at you, Mr. Davies. Truly, I am.” And she was. She was ashamed. Aunt Martha had taught her better manners than that. No self-respecting lady curses so freely, not ever.
Clara tensed as Mr. Davies rested a hand upon her throbbing flesh again, half-expecting another slap to fall. “The next stagecoach is departing for Buffalo in two days, Miss Sutton. It will take another five days to reach your father's ranch. I am escorting you there not only as your guardian, but as your father's new foreman. I will not hesitate to punish you again if you disobey me or misbehave in anyway. Do you understand?”
“Yes, sir,” she mumbled, sniffing loudly against the coverlet.
“Good,” he said.
I have to say, I loved this book. Sue Lyndon did a wonderful job with these two characters. Clara was headstrong, independent, and thoughtful. She ended up over the knee many times in this book, but it was never due to exorbitant foolishness. Mr. Davies was firm and unyielding, but he was reasonable and evenhanded. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a historical western romance chock full of spanking.