The Right Wife

The Right Wife

by Beverly Barton

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Overview

In a sweeping and vibrant novel set in the post-war South, New York Times bestselling author Beverly Barton follows one young woman's journey to love and independence. . .

1885. All of Margaret Campbell's hopes for the future lie in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Since the death of her sharecropper father, eighteen-year-old Maggie has no resources and few allies, aside from the relatives who've agreed to take her in. With luck, she might yet make an upright gentleman of her brother, and a real lady of her rebellious little sister. And perhaps, once her siblings are settled, she'll find a decent, hardworking man to marry. But those plans are jeopardized the moment she meets Aaron Stone.

Effortlessly charming, Aaron is building an empire in the South. Maggie knows he wants the right kind of wife to overcome the shadows surrounding his birth--someone like the well-connected widow he's been courting. Someone a million miles from a penniless, outspoken sharecropper's daughter. But neither jealousy, family secrets, nor long-held prejudices will keep Maggie from following her heart. . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781601832801
Publisher: Random House
Publication date: 06/01/2014
Pages: 266
Sales rank: 764,524
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Beverly Marie Beaver(1946 —2011), better known as Beverly Barton, was an American author noted for her romantic suspense novels. She wrote more than thirty contemporary romance novels and created the popular The Protectors series. Her first Book Yankee Lover was published in 1990. Though best known for her romantic suspense novels, she also wrote historical and paranormal romances.

Date of Birth:

December 23, 1946

Date of Death:

April 21, 2011

Place of Birth:

Tuscumbia, AL

Place of Death:

Tuscumbia, AL

Read an Excerpt

The Right Wife


By Beverly Barton

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.

Copyright © 2014 The Estate of Beverly Inman Beaver
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60183-280-1


CHAPTER 1

"Get your filthy hand off her," Maggie Campbell said. "How dare you accuse Daisy of stealing your watch?"

"Look girlie, you stay out of this. Your nigger stole my watch, and I intend to search her," the red-faced, little pig-of-a-man shouted.

"I'm not going to tell you again, you stinking idiot, get your hands off of Daisy!"

"Please, Miss Maggie," the pale-eyed young Negress said, her womanly body trembling with fear. Clean but terribly worn clothes covered her alluring body, and slender, bare feet revealed her poverty. Her fair maize skin, ebony hair, and huge, almost iridescent blue eyes bespoke of a beauty that once would have sold at a high price.

"Shut up, gal." As he spoke, her accuser pulled the black woman closer to his rotund body. He turned to the redheaded girl who was pointing her finger in his heavily bearded face. "Just what you going to do about it, huh? I say this gal stole my watch, and I got a right to search her for it. You take those two brats and get on the train. I'll send this 'un on after I get my watch back."

Maggie moved closer, pulling on her servant, trying to free her from the tight embrace of her captor. The man's grasp loosened when Maggie's tug caught him off guard. Daisy staggered, barely catching herself before falling.

The disturbance on the loading platform attracted Aaron Stone's attention. He noticed that a small group had gathered around the heavyset, bearded man, the slender Negress, and the auburn-haired girl. Two youngsters, by looks obviously the screaming redhead's brother and sister, stood by her. Their tense, young faces seemed to be warning one and all not to interfere. The tall, lanky boy, who appeared to be about sixteen, moved in closer as if ready to pounce.

Aaron took a deep draw on his cigar as he stepped down onto the platform, walked a few yards, and stopped at the edge of the small assembly.

Aaron's green eyes moved over the angry redhead whose full breasts were heaving in tantalizing movements as her anger steadily increased. The small rose attached to the bodice of her dress attracted his attention, the crimson petals brilliant against the pale blue background.

"Damn you!" the fat, little man hissed, grabbing Maggie by the wrists. "Maybe you stole my watch. Maybe I need to search you."

"Stop it!" Maggie's boyishly brave brother yelled. "Let her go."

"You're an awful man," the small girl said. "You better let my sister go or I'll bite you."

"Let me loose, you fat, old goat," Maggie said, just as her foot rammed into his shin.

Momentarily stunned, he released Maggie, but, before she could move, he grabbed her around the waist. Just as Maggie aimed her knee, the boy jumped on the man's back, the girl bit into his fat hand, and the daring Negress whacked him in the head with a tiny case. Within seconds, their attacker lay on the platform cursing loudly while Maggie Campbell and her troops gathered their belongings.

Aaron could not contain the chuckle rumbling from his chest. He had seen many a sight in his thirty years, but nothing to match the spectacle of this feisty redhead and her unlikely entourage. She looked far too young to be on her own. She looked far too poor to have a servant. He found the incident amusing and the girl intriguing. She certainly was not a well-behaved young lady. Her actions had been those of a wildcat, not a tame, little tabby. Aaron knew his beloved Eunice would have been shocked senseless. Never would she have degraded herself by becoming embroiled in a struggle to protect a darky servant girl.

The scarlet-faced man got to his feet and stormed toward his assailants. "You better stop, you little slut, you and that nigger of yours. I got police friends. I'll have you in jail. Huber Smith ain't nobody to rile."

Maggie didn't slow down. She kept walking, but the black girl stopped.

"Miss Maggie, go 'head and let him search me. Then he'll know I ain't got no watch."

Maggie stopped. "I will not allow that ... that ... animal to touch you. He knows you didn't steal his watch."

"Please, Miss Maggie, I don't want to cause you no trouble." Tears filled Daisy's huge, blue eyes.

"Flibberation!" On Maggie's lips the word became a curse.

What prompted him to interfere Aaron would never know, but the impulse to be Miss Maggie's champion overcame his better judgment.

"Mr. Smith." Aaron's deep voice froze the other man to the spot and equally immobilized the small crowd of onlookers.

Smith's keen, black eyes darted up at the big man who had called his name. "Sir?"

"I think perhaps you have delayed this young ... er ... lady long enough. I, too, have friends in Chattanooga. The mayor and I have shared a brandy at the Stanton House on more than one occasion."

"Look here, sir, this colored gal stole my watch, and I intend to search her."

"Mr. Smith, being a man of the world myself, I can understand how the dark charms of this quadroon might tempt you, but this is 1885. Since her mistress is unwilling to allow you the privileges you desired, I suggest that you quietly drop the matter." When Aaron smiled, his handsome face hardened. His stance tensed and he turned to Maggie.

"May I have the honor of escorting you aboard your train, miss?"

"Miss Campbell, Miss Margaret Campbell. And thank you, but we can board the train without any more help."

Maggie looked up at Aaron and the whole world seemed to fade away. He was far from the first handsome man she had ever seen. In Grovesdale, there had been men of all shapes, sizes, and ages. She had even had a steady beau before Pa died. Benny had been handsome, in a youthful sort of way, and every bit the gentleman this big, blond man was, probably more so. She attributed the giddy, sinking feeling in her stomach to her unwilling attraction to the handsome stranger.

"It would be my pleasure to help you, Miss Campbell."

Maggie trembled. She wasn't sure whether she was trembling outside or just inside. Lordy, he was big. Bigger than Pa and Pa had been a tad over six feet.

Aaron held her eyes with his. She didn't look a day over eighteen with that smooth, flawless complexion and innocent gold eyes. Just looking at her made him restless with a need he hadn't felt in years. Not since he had been a randy boy. She might not be a well-bred lady, but she certainly was a rare beauty. He knew he should say good-bye and good luck, and get the hell away from her before he made a fool of himself.

"Where are you headed, Miss Campbell?" he heard himself asking against his better judgment.

"We're going to Tuscumbia, Alabama," Maggie said as she began walking. She motioned for the other three to follow.

"I happen to be a new resident of that area." Aaron smiled when he saw the momentary pause in her step. He decided it was fate. Somehow this redheaded witch was going to cause him trouble.

"Then perhaps we will see you there, Mr. ... ah ... Mr. ..." Maggie flushed. She did not want this aggressively arrogant rogue to think she was trying to become familiar.

"Stone. Aaron Stone," he introduced himself, knowing that, although Maggie feigned indifference, she was as interested in him as he was in her.

Remaining a few discreet steps behind, Daisy and the children kept pace with the fast-moving Maggie. All three were avidly listening to the ongoing conversation between the titian-haired tigress and their golden rescuer.

"Thank you for your assistance, Mr. Stone." Maggie tried to sound genuinely appreciative without being coy. If there was one thing that she hated, it was sugary-sweet women who batted their eyelashes and spouted asinine nonsense like "Oh, dear me."

"Perhaps I should accompany you and your party on the remainder of the trip," Aaron said, dumbfounded by his inability to leave this girl. "It's unfortunate that some older male member of your family couldn't see you safely to your destination."

Aaron Stone knew he was unwanted and probably not needed, but, for some perplexing reason, he could not bring himself to walk away from Miss Maggie Campbell. At thirty, he was too old to be infatuated with some winsome girl, even if she were the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. She was definitely the wrong woman for him. Woman? She wasn't much more than a girl, a hot-tempered, unladylike, poorly dressed girl.

"Look, Mr. Stone," Maggie said, "although I appreciated your help, I do not appreciate your persistence. All appearances to the contrary, I, sir, am a lady. And ladies do not encourage acquaintances with strange men."

"Well, I'll be damned," Aaron laughed. "Pardon me, miss." His jade eyes scanned her shabbily attired body. "I simply thought that your party might be interested in traveling to Tuscumbia in a private car. I happen to have one at my disposal."

He had never known a woman who could resist the lure of wealth. Why should this beautiful ragamuffin be different? Even his own mother had sold herself to the highest bidder.

"We have our tickets, sir. Paid for with good, honest money." Maggie's quick steps increased in speed.

"What makes you think my money is bad, Miss Maggie?"

"Intuition, sir. Intuition."

Aaron slowed his stride to a standstill, watching as the Campbell clan headed toward the passenger car. Determined not to follow the sassy miss, he counted the reasons he should not pursue his baser instincts. She was too young, too poor, too ill bred, and too independent. That type made a good mistress, but a bad wife for a man seeking to overcome his own unsavory past.

He probably would have been able to turn around and go in the opposite direction if Maggie hadn't stopped just as her siblings boarded the train ahead of her. She stood there with those big gold eyes staring at him as if she'd never seen a man before. Damn, if she didn't stop looking at him, he wouldn't be responsible for his actions.

He walked the few feet separating them while she watched his approach, not moving when he reached out and took her small hand into his giant clasp.

"Miss Maggie." He wanted this woman. He wanted her badly.

"Mr. Stone, I ... I ..."

"I don't want you to leave with a bad impression of me." Her hand felt warm and soft, yet strong, as if she were capable of hard work.

He wanted to pull her hand to his lips to open her palm and stroke it with his tongue.

"Please, let me go." She jerked her hand away, tingling from his touch.

He stood motionless, watching while she practically ran up the steps to board the passenger car.

"Good-bye, Mr. Stone," the wide-eyed child, who was a pale, petite version of her older sister, called from the open window of the Memphis and Charleston railroad coach. "We'll see you in Tuscumbia."

He looked up in time to see Maggie jerk back the waving hand of her young sister and hastily close the window. Amused green eyes met molten gold ones, as unconscious invitation and acceptance passed between them.

Maggie tried to settle into her seat, but fidgeted nervously as she stole quick glances at the scattering of other passengers seated around her. She knew that soon the mighty steam engine would move the train forward, propelling her into an adventure of the new and unknown. She did not want her sixteen-year-old brother, Micah, or her ten-year-old sister, Judith, to be aware of her uneasiness. They were depending on her to be strong. Since Pa had passed on this last winter, the young ones looked to her for guidance, even though Micah tried hard to be the man of the family.

"Why can't Daisy sit with us?" Judith turned backward, her knees resting on the cushioned bottom of the seat. Her large hazel eyes boldly inspected the passenger car's interior and the interesting human specimens settling in for the long ride.

On the walls, small gaslights were attached every few feet apart. At one end of the wood-paneled coach stood a cold, potbellied stove, an empty brass cuspidor overturned beside it.

"Daisy has to ride in the colored car, Judith," Maggie said, personally wishing that Daisy were by her side. "Things aren't that different back home. It's just that out in big cities, things are done more proper."

"Is it proper that Daisy has to ride in a different car from us?"

"Yes, Judith, it's the proper thing." Maggie didn't approve of the way things were, but she had learned to accept them. Poor little Jude was only a child, with a child's rosy outlook on life. Maggie knew it was hard for her to understand why things were the way they were.

"Would it not have been proper for us to ride in that private car with Mr. Stone?"

"Judith Campbell, will you please sit down," Maggie laughed, barely stopping herself from swatting her young sister's backside. "The proper thing is for a lady to sit on her bottom, facing forward, and not sit on her knees gaping at strangers."

"I'm not gaping. I'm showing an interest in what's going on around me."

"Sit down, Jude, and quit acting like some ignorant farm girl," Micah said. Having settled in the seat facing his sisters, he crossed his legs and relaxed.

Judith spun around and practically fell into the seat, a self-satisfied smile curling her pink lips. "There, is that better?"

"Let's all try to behave as if we've had some raisin'. Aunt Tilly and Uncle Chester will expect good manners from us." Maggie knew that her siblings dreaded the thought of living with their mother's brother and his puritanical wife. She had grave misgivings herself.

"Does Daisy like being colored?" Judith seemed intent on straining her sister's nerves to the breaking point.

Sympathetically eyeing the inquisitive girl beside her, Maggie said, "Daisy accepts her lot in life. She knows that the good Lord put us all here for a purpose, whatever our color."

"I wonder what that handsome Mr. Stone's purpose is?" Judith sighed, a dreamy expression on her pretty little face.

"I'd bet his purpose is to drink hard liquor, make easy money, and bed as many willing females as possible." Micah's face brightened with laughter, his raw-boned features almost gaunt.

"Micah James Campbell!" Maggie pretended shock, praying silently that no one had overheard her brother's tasteless comments. Aunt Tilly would have an attack of the vapors if she heard such language.

"Anybody could tell he's a man of the world, a man used to getting his own way," the boy said.

"Lord only knows what a man like that did to make the money to afford the kind of life you're talking about." Maggie refused to believe that Aaron Stone would play a part in her life or the lives of her siblings. Surely Aunt Tilly would shun a man of his type. Maggie was powerfully certain that he hadn't been born a gentleman.

"I don't see that it makes much difference how a man gets rich as long as he does." Micah's words reflected his own unhappiness with his poverty-stricken life.

"Don't talk such nonsense," his older sister said. "You know that Cousin Wesley has great hopes that you will follow in his footsteps by joining the ministry. A true man of God has little chance of becoming rich."

"I don't want to be no preacher." The rangy, auburn-haired youth twisted in his seat, positioning himself to face the window. The morning breeze cooled his heated face, which had flushed scarlet beneath his healthy Tennessee tan.

"Is being a preacher a proper thing to do?" Judith asked.

Maggie's head began to throb. Was her dream of a better life for Judith and Micah just that, a dream? Would she be able to curb the adventurous streak that ran so deep within her brother? Would she ever be able to make a real lady of the bubbly, constantly curious Judith?

Micah refused to acknowledge either Judith's question or the existence of his two sisters. Maggie knew he would sulk for a while, perhaps even think about being in cahoots with the likes of Aaron Stone. No doubt, that rogue could teach her little brother all sorts of improper things.

"I don't think I'd like being married to a preacher," the younger girl said thoughtfully. "You could never do anything fun. It'd all be a sin."

"Please don't talk like that in front of Aunt Tilly," Maggie told her talkative sister. "She sets great store by sin and salvation."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Right Wife by Beverly Barton. Copyright © 2014 The Estate of Beverly Inman Beaver. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Right Wife 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Historical_Romance_Lover More than 1 year ago
Maggie Campbell must move her younger brother and sister to Tuscumbia, Alabama to start their life over. Her mother and father have passed away and her uncle is the only hope of a future. She made promises to her father and the only way to keep those is to get herself settled with a good paying job. Unfortunately for Maggie, upon arrival to Tuscumbia she is involved with an incident that had her Aaron Stone. Aaron doesn't have the best reputation and Maggie need hers to be spotless if her siblings are to make something of themselves. Aaron and Maggie can't seem to stay away from each other and are both determined to get what they want out of life. Aaron needs to marry a "lady" so that he can get over his stigma of being a bastard and Maggie needs to be able to fulfill her promise to her father which means her reputation needs to be spotless. Can they both get what they need without forsaking the love they feel for each other? I was not impressed with the writing in this story at all. Barton is a well-known author and I was disappointed that this story did not live up to my expectations. This is being published after the death of the author, so maybe it didn't get all of the re-write that it would have if she was still with us. There are other aspects of the story that I was not thrilled with, but don't want to write any spoilers. I did like the premise of the story, but the execution of it was not good at all. I honestly don't know if I will read anything else my this author or not after reading this... Thanks go to eKensington for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was pulled in from the very start. Maggie's "all in no matter what" persona did grate on my nerves more than a few times but I figure that is how women were in those days. My mind is turned to Jude. She is my favorite Campbell and I do want to know if Thayer will be hers in the end. If you love historical romance, a little catty behavior, jealousy, lust, and a dash of christian crazy...then this book is for you.
LesiaCh4 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It's a southern romance with a twist that will sweep you away. Aaron has a past that haunts him and, little does he know, the hellion he just met at the train station has all he needs to heal his tortured soul and make him believe in love forever after. Maggie just wants the best for her brother and to make a lady of her young sister. There is romance, lots of passion, and Maggie is about to uncover a terrible secret the town has kept for years. Beverly Barton writes this story beautifully and I hope you will read The Right Wife and enjoy it as much as I did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book started out ok, but was so far fetched in that the 2 people fell in love immediately and that's where the poetry talk started. The way they spoke to each other was so unbelievable it was hard to read, lots of "my darling lover mine" etc. I felt like it was stuff no one would actually ever say lol Also, the way Maggie just let Aaron walk all over her and walk away from her and she chased him was just too much. No woman would do that. Too unbelievable. Then there were the love scenes! It felt rushed and odd. Like their first time, randomly running out of house, into rain and he just all sudden takes her in dirt driveway and she's ok with that?! Just odd. Not one of my favorites...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book couldn't put it down.
2_PMVH More than 1 year ago
A titan hot temper heroine meets a rich hero with a self imposed mountain on his shoulder! Can the tigress demolish his mountain & capture his heart? Since her sharecropper daddy died, Maggie Campbell, a feisty redhead with a temper to match, her half boy half man brother, Micah, & her hellion of a sister, Judith, are on their way to Tuscumbia to live with her deceased mom's brother & his family. She promised her dad on his death bed, that she would see to Micah getting an education & turning her sister into a lady. Living with Uncle Chester will be hard because his wife is very religious & her son Cousin Wesley is a pristine & proper minister. Plus with Micah's stubbornness, Judith's mouth & her temper, it will be a trail on her last nerve. All aboard the train to their new life, but this grumpy man thinks their Daisy stole his watch & is manhandling them all, but all Campbell stick together! Aaron Stone is a rich man with a huge chip on his shoulder, about being born out of wedlock. He will marry a woman who can move him up in society & he has decided that widowed Eunice Arnold is the right ticket. Aaron is on his home to ask Eunice to marry him & lift this dark stain of his birth. On his way back to Tuscumbia, he sees a young titan tigress kick a man in the shin, her younger brother jump on his back & a mini hellion biting this man hand, all because they are trying to protect a young black woman. Maggie tries to settle this lying man, but her temper snaps & everyone joined in, but this huge, golden hair god offers to help. Aaron introduces myself & offers his help, but this ragamuffin has the nerve to refuses him. Maggie doesn't need this man messing up her plans, but Judith opens her mouth & off to the races she goes, with question after question. They go their way, he goes to his BF Thayer Coleman's private car & never will they see one another. Until the train stops & Judith falls out her window, while she hangs out to grab the fried chicken box from Aaron & fells into his arms. Once they arrive at Tuscumbia, Cousin Wesley, a man who really enjoys his food, comes to collect them, Judith runs to thank Aaron, sees handsome Thayer, falls deeply in love, Maggie chases her down, a mad man shoots Aaron, falls into Maggie's arms bleeding, Cousin Wesley is moaning about what his mama going to say & Judith is just staring up into her future hubby's eyes. So as y'all can see Tuscumbia will never be the same! With the electric sensual vibe going from Maggie to Aaron, they light the Southern states on fire! Now we have a stubborn hero who thinks he has to marry up, creepy Cousin Wesley everywhere, Maggie just trying to do right for her family, Thayer using jealous to kick Aaron into action, widow Eunice goody two shoes, in love Judith, lots of stolen moments of kisses, caresses galore, clothes flying & since it's the south, misplaced racism & anger to stir up this pot of decadent desire & spicy passions! When will Aaron see that Maggie is his other half? Can Maggie love Aaron enough to walk away? Will she marry the food loving Cousin Wesley or just bake him a pie? When Eunice sees her competition, how will she make Maggie's life miserable? But most importantly, how will Judith get her Thayer in 10 or so years? This is my 1st Beverly Barton romance & she can write a ROFL & passions flying tale with a cast of kooky, quirky & deeply passionate & loving Southern folks. Maggie is a heroine given an impossible mission, but she does everything with 110% of her heart, soul & head. Aaron is a hero with a self imposed mountain on his shoulder, but his relationship with Maggie showed him that love can & will, if you accept it, explode his mountain away. Young Judith is my favorite member of this crazy cast, with her never ending questions, her never quiet brain & her deeply insane love of Thayer. I would love to read her story of snatching up Thayer, because there is not a doubt in my mind she will. America's Civil War ripped families & states apart, but devastated our country's heart & soul. Ms. Barton wrote all the dirty & ugly aftermath into this story, but did with her whole heart. The passions between Maggie & Aaron rocked this story, singed my Kindle & could light Alabama cotton fields on fire. I give Ms. Barton my top score of 5 fingers up & 10 toes. NetGalley ARC given for my honest review.
amybooksy More than 1 year ago
The Right Wife is a quick read for me. I really like this story. It is a good love story. Though some scenes are more spicy than I like and I just skipped over those scenes.  4 stars
MyBookAddictionandMore More than 1 year ago
THE RIGHT WIFE by Beverly Barton is an exciting Historical Romance set in Post- War South in 1885. Fast paced, tale of family love, seduction and finding love. You can't help but love Maggie and her siblings. Margaret Campbell and her younger brother and sister are orphaned, leaving everything they know behind and moving to Tuscumbia, Alabama, with their aunt and uncle meet the seductive, handsome, Aaron Stone, what follows is an epic tale of a eighteen year old and life in post-war Alabama. Family secrets, prejudices, long held friendships, injustices, jealousy, seduction, independence, and love find its way into the hearts of the citizens of Tuscumbia. Fast paced tale that will have you turning pages and grasping at straws as you hold your breath for Maggie and Aaron. Oh, you can't help but fall in love with little Jude, Maggie's ten-year old sister, who believes she is in love with an older man. And Daisy, who is sexual assaulted by someone with many prejudices including females. An enjoyable read and one that has many twists and turns. Be warned, some readers may find some of the wording offensive. Received for an honest review from the publisher and Net Galley. Rating: 4 Heat Rating: Hot Reviewed by: AprilR, courtesy of My Book Addiction and More
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book....hoping that we are treated to Jude's, Thayer's and Micah's stories in future books!