MARRIAGE, CONSENT, AND MAIL ORDER BRIDES
by Nerys Leigh
The issue of consent is very much a hot topic these days, and I think we would all agree that forcing one’s attentions on someone without their consent is wrong. But what about back in the nineteenth century, between a husband and wife? What was a mail order bride to do who had just married a man she didn’t know?
So far in my Escape to the West series, the issue hasn’t come up, with my brides for one reason or another not having to face the prospect of intimacy with a man they’ve only just met. But in More Than Gold, the sixth book in the series, all Gabriel wants is a woman to cook, clean, and warm his bed. In his world, people get married for practical purposes and nothing more. His new wife, however, has different ideas. Despite being forced to travel across the country to marry a man she’s never met, Grace refuses to give up on her dream of being loved and cared for.
Excerpt from “More Than Gold” by Nerys Leigh.
Gabriel rose and walked across the room to her, stopping just a foot away when she turned around.
“You’re a real handsome woman, Grace,” he said, sliding his hands around her waist and leaning in for their first kiss.
A fist slammed into the side of his face, whipping his head round and sending him reeling backwards.
She grabbed a skillet from the cupboard and held it in front of her like a weapon. “What are you doing?!”
He shook his head to clear it. The woman had a right hook most men would have been proud of. “What do you think I’m doing? We’re married. We’re going to do what married folks do.”
It was a perfectly natural assumption, as far as he was concerned.
But not for her, apparently. “We’ve known each other for less than three hours and you expect me to just allow you to have your way with me?”
What was going on here? “Uh… yes?”
She gasped in a horrified breath. “You… you… uncouth brute!”
He was fairly sure uncouth was a bad thing.
Drawing himself up, he pointed his finger at her. “Now wait just a minute. We’re legally wed. It’s not like you’ll be whoring yourself out to me. I’m your husband.”
Her eyes looked like they could pop right out of her head. “Whoring?!”
It may have been a poor choice of words.
He raised both hands, palms out in surrender. “That ain’t what I meant. I’m just saying that it’s natural for a husband and wife to want to…”
“Well I don’t want to, so you keep your hands to yourself!” She brandished the pan, forcing him to step back.
He rubbed at his aching face. If she could do that with just her fist, no telling what kind of damage she could do with a skillet.
He decided to try reasoning with her, from a safe distance. “I know we haven’t been together for long, but we’d been writing letters to each other for nigh on three months before you came. I reckon we know each other plenty. I promise I’ll be real gentle and…”
“You won’t be gentle. You won’t be anything.” She waved the skillet. “Because it isn’t happening!”
So what do you think? Is intimacy simply a matter of being married? Or is it something deeper, coming out of the kind of love, care and respect that will last a lifetime?
Comment your thoughts below for the chance to win an ebook of your choice from my Escape to the West series!