The Teacher and the Preacher

(10 customer reviews)

A teacher with a secret. A preacher with secret. Still in love…

Sven is a preacher with a past. He’s been a guest of the territorial prison.

Caroline is a teacher in trouble. She’s pretending to be a widow, but the blond baby belongs to Sven.

Too bad he doesn’t know.

Can they overcome their checkered history?

Can they forgive, forget, and move forward?

Will a small Texas town embrace or exile them when their secret sins come to light?

This is book three in the Lonestar Love series but can be enjoyed as a standalone.

Publisher’s Note: This steamy historical Western romance contains elements of action, adventure, and power exchange.

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Sample Chapter

Caroline

 

“Please, Micah, hold still,” Caroline begged the baby squirming in her arms.

Micah turned his deep blue eyes to his mother’s face and beamed a two-tooth grin before latching his pudgy fingers onto her collar and pulling it toward his drooling mouth. She wanted to look her best for the tea party. She was, after all, the guest of honor. At this rate, her entire bosom would be saliva soaked before she arrived.

She set the baby on his feet and took his small hands in her own. Leaning forward slightly, she let the boy toddle. Micah stepped out, leading with his chest, lifting each foot high in the air. He would walk on his own soon, and she both loved and feared the idea. At one-year, he weighed thirty-three pounds. She sighed. Would she be able to keep up with him, lift him, in another six months?

The sound of buggy wheels rolling on packed dirt pulled her attention from her son’s baby steps to the street. The conveyance drew to a stop, and a tall, muscular man stepped out.

“Mrs. Connors?” he inquired.

“Yes, that’s me,” she answered although her stomach tightened at the lie. She was no one’s missus.

The big cowboy removed his hat and held it by his side. “I’m John Wayne, Marcie’s husband. I came to pick you up for the party. Marcie was busy getting ready. She sends her apologies for not coming in person.”

“Thank you, Mr. Wayne.” The baby squealed in displeasure at their suspended motion. He pulled on her hands and scowled.

“Call me John.” He looked at the straining child. “That’s a mighty fine looking boy you got there, Mrs. Connors.”

His eyes strayed from Micah, to her, and back. The baby was white blond, big, tall for his age. She was tiny, elfish, faery-like. Her cheek bones were high, her nose tilted and her mouth a lush pink bow. Midnight black hair was brushed away from her face revealing a widow’s peak. That dramatic peak at the baby’s forehead and his deep blue eyes marked him as hers. Her genetic contribution ended there.

“Micah gets his coloring and his size from his father,” she answered the unspoken question. “Please, call me Caroline.” She lifted the boy into her arms and moved toward the stairs.

John Wayne was by her side, cupping her elbow with his large hand, guiding her down the steps. He helped her into the buggy and waited while she arranged her skirts and set the child on her lap.

He turned the buggy and headed back up the street. “Are you getting settled?”

“Mrs. Thornton met me yesterday and took me to the rooms. There was already food in the cupboard and the bed and crib made up. It was so nice. Micah and I were both worn out from the trip.” The hot, dry Texas landscape rolled by. She’d lived her whole life in Minnesota, a land of sparkling lakes and snow. Well, she’d get used to this place, and she wanted to be, needed to be, far away from anyone who might recognize her.

“Mrs. Thornton, Amanda, is my sister-in-law. She’s Marcie’s younger sister,” John explained.

He gave the reins a shake and the horses picked up their pace. The air flowing past, hot as it was, offered some relief from the stifling heat. “Marcie lived in your rooms when she first came to San Miguel. I installed the lock on the door and the one at the bottom of the stairs. The town is not as rowdy as it once was. We have a church and our school is set to open.” He tipped his head in her direction and smiled. There are more women here now, but men still outnumber them. I hope you’ll keep both locks set when home.” Caroline felt his sharp gaze as he awaited her answer.

“I will,” she agreed. “Marcie has been wonderful. I applied to schools all over the country, but no one would hire a woman with a child. Marcie was accepting, enthusiastic, even, to have both of us. She said she would set up babysitting. I’d never encountered that word before. Micah will be staying at your home during the day and the babysitter,” she rolled the word around on her tongue, “will watch both Micah and your daughter, Katie.” John nodded his understanding. “Marcie wrote that there was no reason a woman with children couldn’t hold a job outside the home. I can tell you, no one else shares that opinion. She said she is the midwife and sometimes doctor here. Your wife is very unusual.”

John choked or laughed. She couldn’t determine which. “Yes, she is certainly that.”

The buggy entered a large yard in front of a white, two-story house. A porch wrapped around the building. Two women rose from a swing and met the buggy in the yard.

“Mrs. Connors, I’m Marcie Wayne and you met my sister, Amanda, yesterday.” The two women beamed smiles of welcome. Caroline suppressed a laugh. They were alike as two peas in a pod with their masses of curly hair. “This must be Micah. What a handsome boy.” Marcie held her hands out to the baby and, to Caroline’s surprise, he launched himself into her arms.

Two children approached the little group. “These are my older children.” Amanda put an arm around each child. “Tommy is twelve, and Jeanette is ten. We’ve engaged the services of some of the older children to watch the babies while we have our tea.”

“Tommy, this is Micah. Can you take him to play with the other children?” Marcie handed the baby to the older boy. Micah grinned at her as he was borne away. Caroline gave him a little wave and sighed. He’d been so clingy on the trip, but these people had won him over at first glance. She would trust his judgment. John circled the buggy and helped her to the ground.

The frenzied barking of two dogs split the air. The dogs ran, tongues hanging, twisted in the air, and fought for the prize – a large, dirty stick. One dog was big and brown, a mutt. The other had the thick silver and gray coat of a Husky. Poor thing, she thought, he must suffer in the Texas heat. In Minnesota, a Husky was a familiar sight. They were excellent guard dogs and could pull a sled through the worst storm, but they were also loyal and loving. He was a long way from the snow, and so was she. Her stomach clenched at the memory of those cold, clear nights. The dogs pulling their sled through the falling snow while she sat wrapped in fur – warm, secure, home. Caroline blinked away a tear and straightened her shoulders.

John pointed at the brown dog. “That’s Duke. He’s our dog. The other one belongs to the preacher.” The dogs each held one end of the stick in their mouth and were engaged in canine tug-of-war. Deep, snarling growls reverberated in the still afternoon air. “Don’t worry about them. They won’t really fight each other,” he reassured. With a dismissive wave, John turned toward the house.

Marcie linked her arm with his. “Come in. Everyone is eager to meet you. San Miguel is a good town, and we hope you’ll like it here.”

The steady hum of chatter disappeared when they entered, and all heads swiveled in her direction. A lump of self-consciousness mixed with a healthy dose of fear took up uncomfortable residence in her throat. She needed this job. She needed these people to like her, but, more important, to approve of her.

Marcie led her to the front of the room. “I have the great pleasure of introducing our new teacher, Caroline Connors. As you know, the first day of school will be two weeks from today. All children between the ages of six and fifteen are welcome. Please help yourself to tea or punch and cookies.”

Marcie laced her arm though Caroline’s and led her to the table. She poured two cups of tea, handed one to her, and kept up a running dialogue of introductions. Caroline’s hand had been squeezed until it ached, and her lips hurt from the smile frozen on her face.

A single knock on the door drew her attention. A shiver raced through her body, and she pushed it aside. She was safe. No one knew her here. Her shoulders lowered. Her fists unclenched.

“Afternoon, Preacher,” John Wayne greeted the newcomer.

“Hope I’m not too late, John. I had a bit of an emergency. Granny Wilkins is poorly, I’m sorry to say.” Her shoulders resumed their height. She knew that voice, but it couldn’t be. Not here. Not now. Not so far from home.

“That’s the preacher. Every available woman for miles around arrives at service in her best dress and stares at him like they’ve been forty days in the desert, and he’s a glass of water.” Marcie squeezed Caroline’s arm. “Wait until you see him, and you’ll understand.”

Caroline fixed her eyes on the door. The two men entered, and blood rushed from her face to the bottom of her feet to return in scalding heat. It couldn’t be, it simply could not be, but there he stood – Sven Nielson.

John motioned in her direction. “Come meet our new teacher, Sven.” He stood in front of her, holding out his hand. “Mrs. Connors, this is our preacher, Sven Nielson.” His giant hand engulfed her tiny one. It had always been this way. His giant to her elf, like so many of the Norwegian fairy tales they were raised on.

His hand was clammy. His eyes scorched her face. “It’s a pleasure, Mrs. Connors.”

“Thank you, Mr. Nielson, I…”

A disturbance at the kitchen door revealed Tommy with a sobbing Micah in his arms. “I’m sorry to interrupt the party, but Micah got mighty fussy. I tried my best, but I think he needs his ma.”

Caroline pulled her hand from the preacher’s grip and hurried across the room. “Thank you, Tommy. Come here, baby.” She leaned down and scooped the unhappy child into her arms. Rocking back and forth, she patted his back until the sobs became sniffles. The preacher’s gaze burned her back and sent her pulse racing. She lifted her eyes to his and strove for a look of defiant begging. Don’t say a word. Not a single word.

The baby lifted his head from her shoulder and surveyed the room with those dark blue eyes before pushing his fist into his mouth.

“I’m sorry. He’s teething. I’ve enjoyed meeting all of you, but I believe I should get Micah home.” Caroline moved toward the door glancing at Sven as she went. His eyes were glued to the baby. She was out the door and moving toward town. A frenzy of conversation exploded at her back.

John hustled to catch her. “Mrs. Connors, Caroline, wait. Let me hitch the buggy.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll enjoy the walk.” Caroline called over her shoulder, but her difficulty holding the squirming child paid lie to her claim.

“I’ll be happy to walk Mrs. Connors back to town.” Sven’s long legs ate the distance between them. He put two fingers in his mouth and a shrill whistle pierced the air. “Loki, come,” he called.

The Husky stopped mid-game, spotted Sven and trotted to his master’s side. “Good boy, Loki.” Sven ruffled the big dog’s fur.

“Loki. Oh my God. Loki,” Caroline gasped. The dog studied her with his Husky eyes, blue with a ring of black, before trotting to her side and rubbing against her skirt.

“He remembers you,” Sven said.

She ran her fingers through his thick fur.

“You can’t carry the child all the way to town,” Sven muttered. He reached for the sleeping boy. “Let me help.”

He plucked Micah from her arms and laid him against his chest. He encircled the child with both arms and closed his eyes. His voice trembled. “He’s mine.”

“Yes, he’s yours,” she snapped. Anger oozed like thick mud through her words.

She stamped her foot and would have rushed ahead ignoring the blond giant except he held her son, their son, in his brawny arms.

“I don’t understand. It was just the one time,” he stammered.

“Yes, well, apparently once is enough.” Her words, sharp as arrows, zinged through the hot, dry air.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know…” he began.

“No, you didn’t know. You left. Left the next morning after we slept… no, not slept, there was no sleeping involved, after we made love by the river. At least, I thought we were making love until you disappeared. And I waited, Sven, I waited. Counting the days until I saw you again, and then counting the days until I knew I was pregnant. Pregnant and alone in a small town. The small town we grew up in. A place full of good people, but people who take rules seriously. It takes two to break one rule in particular, but only the woman gets the blame.” She was walking at full speed, arms swinging.

As they neared the door to her rooms, she fumbled in her purse searching for the key.

“John said you were Mrs. Are you married?” Sven asked.

“No, in my application I said I was a widow. Marcie willing to hire a woman with a child was rare enough, but an unwed woman with a child? Even Marcie’s good will can only go so far,” she fumed.

“We’ll get married,” he declared. Sven shifted the baby to one arm and took possession of Caroline’s wrist with the other.

She pulled from his grasp. “Was that a proposal, Mr. Nielson? If so, it’s too little, too late.” Caroline stabbed at the doorknob with her key. “Where the hell were you? Damn it, Sven, where were you?”

“Don’t swear, Caroline,” Sven frowned.

“Don’t you tell me what to do.” Caroline pushed the door open and retrieved Micah. She aimed a scorching glare up at him. “My baby is hungry and tired.” From the wince on Sven’s face he hadn’t missed the emphasis on the first word of her sentence.

After delivering the parting shot, she slammed the door in his astonished face. She leaned her back against the door, tears rolling down her cheeks.

“Oh, Sven,” her voice was a lonely gasp. She had cried for him, hoped he would return, prayed he would claim her and Micah. But now, when she finally had a place for herself and Micah, a place where she had a chance to live life with her chin held high, he arrived to remind her of all she had lost.

“Damn it,” she repeated with more than a touch of defiant despair in her voice.

“Damn.”

 

10 reviews for The Teacher and the Preacher

  1. Rjr

    This wonderful story is book 3 in the Lonestar Love series that can easily be read as a standalone. Caroline Connors and her infant son Micah have just moved to San Miguel where she has been hired to teach school. There she runs into a man from her past and she’s terrified she will lose a secure and hopeful future. This story is one of lost loves and second chances in rebuilding lives. While I’ve enjoyed the previous two books in the series very much, I believe this might be my favorite. It’s romantic, a bit sexy, and includes quite a bit of spanking. It’s also touching, sometimes sad, and often humorous. Sometimes our life choices are made for us and how we adapt to that fact can ruin our lives or show us a better future. That is true for several of the characters in this story. The end is in no way a cliffhanger, but I hope it is a preview of the next story in the series. I absolutely adore this book and know I will be reading it again. Treat yourself to it today!

  2. Rhea

    This is a sweet, well written story about two people with a history and past mistakes they are not proud of, trying to get a fresh start in a new town. The plot is very good and well thought out, the characters are sweet though they could, in my opinion, use a little more depth. I didn’t much care for the male character’s justification of double standards in stead of leading by example and the religious undertones was at times a little too much, but I guess that is to be expected with the title being as it is. All in all it is a very sweet, good story.

  3. Lori

    Caroline and her son are finally settling into a new town across the country and darned if the preacher isn’t the man who left her behind to gossip.and ugly looks. Now he wants to claim them, but it will shake up their new lives. When his brother shows up, it all explodes. A good read. The men in this story are spanking men. Aren’t we glad? Historical western spanking romance.

    I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

  4. Redrabbitt

    What a wonderful edition to the Lonestar Love series, where each book will read well as a stand-alone—but even better in their written order. The story was a page-turner with a great cast of characters, some secrets, with mystery/suspense, a little bit of sassiness, throw in a dose of angst, dominant men, and feisty women, along with some action and steamy romance and you, have a winner. The story does not leave on a cliffhanger, but a segue into what appears to be the next book.

    The story will have people from Troubled Water and Treasured. In this edition, it will have several people who have come from Cold Spring, Minnesota to Texas. It is a second chance romance with plenty of angst and heartache, along with new beginnings. The town of San Miguel will hire a teacher, a widow with a child, Caroline Connors. On her introduction to several of the townsfolk, in walks the preacher, Sven Nielson and that will set this tale in motion.

    Sven and Caroline were sweethearts back home, and then he left and never returned. Caroline finds herself pregnant, ridiculed and alone, leaving her friends and family and going to live with an aunt. She will go to school and get her teaching certificate to begin a new life. Never would she dream of seeing Sven again and one look at Micah and he knows that is his son, now he must win Caroline back.

    “She was mine, before. I aim to win her back, and Micah will not grow up without his father.”

    “Life was a ball of yarn, and you never knew when the next tangle would stop your needles cold.”

    The plot will have Caroline and Sven meeting again after nearly two years. She is rightfully bitter, he left and never returned, and her life was turned upside down when it became apparent she was pregnant. A second chance will have her hired as the new school teacher, but it won’t take long before that is threatened. As the preacher, Sven will preach on love and gossip as he lets it be known he is courting Caroline and planning their marriage. But trouble is coming!

    “Are your words true? Will your words injure another? Is there a good purpose to your words, or are you spreading gossip? Let me just repeat that once more. Is it true? Is it hurtful? Is there honorable purpose? Is it gossip?”

    “Don’t forget. I plan to win you back. You and Micah both. You belong with me. I will be the head of our home. Best begin as you mean to go on. Another thing, I decide on the punishment. The when, the where, and the how. Let’s finish.”

    It doesn’t take long for Sven to pick up where he and Caroline left off, with him in charge and that includes spanking her when she disobeys. When he warns her about the danger and keeping her and Micah safe, and she ignores his warnings, he will correct her. Just when life seems to smooth out, trouble comes and wreaks havoc turning the beginning of their marriage upside down, dividing the town and sending the gossiping women spewing their hate. When things take a life and death turn, the one person who has caused so much trouble proves themselves by doing the right thing. Now Caroline must decide can she put the past behind her and forgive. It is time for them to move on and have a fresh start—but will all those that are important to Sven be part of the move?

    “We can stay; we can go. But whatever path we choose, we walk it together. When it comes to the safety of our family, I make the decisions. That was true in Minnesota, it’s true today, and it will be true tomorrow and the day after that until they carry me feet first out the door. The sooner you understand that, the better it will be for your behind.”

    “I reckon we’ve stirred up enough controversy in this town already.”

    The story has many spanking scenes, but always earned and given with love. The sex scenes are not overly explicit. It is full of mystery, suspense, danger, secrets, life and death situations, reunions, good versus evil, and finding happiness.

    I look forward to the next story in the series!

  5. Donna

    Donna L
    4.0 out of 5 starsSecond Chance Of Love
    August 25, 2019
    I really enjoyed this romance story by Ms Phelps.It is a true love story
    with well developed characters,including secondary characters who all
    added depth to the storyline.It was so easy to read and hard to forget.

    Are second chances of happiness really possible with so much hurt and
    misunderstanding in the way.Caroline Connors arrived in San Miguel as
    the new teacher.Caroline has a secret that would see her lose her job
    and the respect of the towns people.Caroline is posing as a widow with
    her young child,Micah.The last person she expected to meet was her ex
    fiancé and Micah’s father,Sven.Sven was the towns preacher and Micah’s
    father.Caroline is shocked,angry and terrified all at the same time.Why
    had Sven abandoned her in her time of need.Despite trying to stay angry
    with Sven,his explanation melts her heart and they are soon courting.
    Sven believes in discipline and will be the head of his family.Caroline soon
    finds herself over his knees for disobeying him and putting herself in
    danger.Sven has his own secrets and demons from his past that would see
    his parishioners reject him.

    This book has something for every reader.It has suspense,mystery,romance,
    strong alpha men,independent woman ,spankings and a interesting storyline.

  6. Marybeth

    I loved this next installment of the Lonestar Love series. Sven is the preacher in the little town in Texas.. Caroline is a “widow” who has come with her son Micah to be the new schoolteacher. Unfortunately, Caroline wasn’t expecting to see Sven. He made love to her once and then disappeared when looking for his brother. Once is all it took and Micah was the result. Sven is shocked and he begs Caroline to let him explain. Eventually, he does and then starts courting her.

    I really enjoyed this story. It was sweet and had characters from the author’s previous books.

  7. Barbara

    I really enjoyed reading this book. It is well written with good character development and an interesting story. It is essentially a ‘second chance’ romance. The two main characters, Sven and Caroline fell in love with one another and intended to get married. Unfortunately fate intervened and they were separated. Not knowing what had happened to Sven, Caroline discovered that she was pregnant. Alone and disgraced, Caroline was sent to live with her aunt. She was able to train as a teacher and passed herself off as a widow. She managed to get a teaching post in San Miguel. There she met Sven one more. He is the town’s preacher and ois astonished to discover that he has a son. Victoria Phelps writes In an engaging style and she convincingly depicts the late 19th century old west. If you enjoy domestic discipline stories in an historical setting, don’t miss this one!

    I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

  8. Hope W

    The Teacher and the Preacher is the 3rd book in the Lonestar Love series, but can be read quite easily as a standalone. That being said, I recommend reading the other books in the series for other great reads. This story is well written and has developed characters. The plot is true to life for this time period and kept my attention . This page turner is showing how misunderstandings can destroy a life, but that does not mean that life is over. Sven is a preacher with a secret that his town does not know. Caroline is their new teacher who also has a secret that can destroy her life. But a child and lost love is dear to her heart and she will stop at nothing to give her child the life he deserves. This story is filled with love,, romance, misunderstanding, sadness, danger, sex, plenty of spankings and most of all a story that will keep you glued to the pages from start to finish.. I highly recommend this book for a great 5 star read! I voluntarily received an arc copy of this book.

    I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

  9. Margaret

    I have not read the other books in this series but I will read them. This story is very well written and described with plenty of unexpected twists and turns. It is easy to fall into. I enjoyed the relationship between Seve and Caroline. And I adored the descriptions of Loki and Micah. There are some disciplinary spankings and sweet sexy scenes.I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy of this book and I very highly recommend it. An enjoyable christian interesting read.

  10. Julie

    This is such a great read and completely captivates you into its pages.

    Preacher Sven has a secret. New teacher Caroline has a secret. Both have made past mistakes that have changed them.

    One thing is clear even though they both have been hurt, neither of them has stopped loving the other one.

    When Sven meets supposedly widowed Caroline’s son Micah, he knew without a doubt that blond-headed child is his son he never knew about.

    Will he win her back and form a secure home for his family.

    Before long danger comes calling. We have a decision to make but whatever we choose we will do it together.

    I was utterly engrossed within these pages. Can not wait for Victoria Phelps next book.

    I received a free copy of this book. This honest review was posted voluntarily.

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