Punishment and Mercye
Widowed Mercy Walcott is too wanton for the repressive Massachusetts Bay Colony of 1694, so when she gets flogged in the village square for sexual congress outside matrimony, her father forces her to marry the blacksmith, Seth Burroughs. Strong, virile, dominant and insatiable, Seth tames her. Up to a point.
The young acolyte, Adam Putnam, falls hard for the delectable beauty he’s forced to subdue while the Reverend doles out her punishment. Watching her bare ass getting redder and her delectable thighs wetter, he experiences his first orgasm under his churchly robes—in full view of the citizenry.
Mercy remembers the feel of him as she squirmed away from the whip and against his sinewy body. She inveigles Seth to indenture him as an apprentice. Adam is torn between his carnal desire for the woman he’s coming to love and his innate scruples. How can he withstand temptation when Seth encourages his wife to make love to Adam? And how can Adam look his friend in the eye after he does?
“…PUNISHMENT AND MERCY was unlike anything I have ever read – and I loved every single word of it. Not your average, everyday historical romance, Punishment and Mercy delves into the forbidden for this time period. Love, lust, and the illicit is the name of the game. Add in a surprise ending and PUNISHMENT AND MERCY became one of my favorites this year.”
— Talia Ricci, Joyfully Reviewed
“…I don’t know where this story came from in your mind, but I can only say that it reads as inspired. The way you’ve done the voice of the characters. The mix of first and third person, the absolute “feel” of the piece – it’s amazing! I was totally transported back to the 1600s. And what a mix of characters! Not to mention you effortlessly conveyed such growth in all the characters. And boy oh boy, is this a hot one! ...
Everything about this story is just so “right”, Cris – the pacing, the characters, the intensity, the emotions, the mood of the period, and god, the sex! With each story you’ve amazed me more, and this one has left me all but speechless.”
— SueEllen Gower, Ellora’s Cave editor
“…PUNISHMENT AND MERCY is a very unique reading experience. The idea of such wanton and naughty behavior with the backdrop of puritanical beliefs makes for one very sexy story. The story definitely pushes boundaries and leaves the reader feeling the heat.”
— 4 stars, Teagan S. Boyd, BookWenches
“The smoldering, carnal and heart-wrenching journey of sexual discovery and freedom is full of dark sensuality and sexual taboos that will draw the reader in and leave them spellbound…the ending is powerfully gripping and packs quite an emotional punch.”
— 4 ½ hearts, Shannon, The Romance Studio
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An Excerpt From: Punishment and Mercy
Copyright © CRIS ANSON, 2010
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
Why they had chosen her to be the example, she did not know. She had only fucked the man the one time. He had been a stranger to town, and Priscilla had set her sights on him. Hell and damnation, Miss Priss had opened her legs at least a half dozen times that Mercy knew of. Just because her pa was the Reverend, Priss thought herself immune to discovery and punishment.
It was not fair.
Still, the new acolyte, young Adam Putnam, showed every indication of being as delectable as his brother Giles. If she closed her eyes, she could feel how massive his cock had been inside his breeches, how hot within her hand.
And how wet his cassock had been when she’d finished handling him—so expertly, she thought, that no one knew what had transpired before their very eyes.
Lying on her stomach on the narrow cot in her father’s house, naked except for the linen sheet over her stinging body, she relived the delicious punishment. How she’d savored the lust in the eyes of the so-called gentlemen arrayed around the platform as her breasts bounced and jiggled their way out of the confining bodice. She’d been the center of attention, not only of every male who, she could see, wanted to taste her, to fuck her, to handle her in some lascivious way, but of their wives, sisters or betrotheds, who jealously measured themselves against her own perfect body only to come up wanting.
Oh, how exquisite were the Reverend’s strokes, his whip curling around her crack all the way to the nub she’d first discovered at the age of fourteen. A master’s touch that delighted her, but she could never admit it nor share the guilty secret with any of her friends. Especially not with Priss. Idly she wondered if the Reverend secretly enjoyed giving punishment, or was he merely performing an onerous duty with precise and pious devotion. It had to be the latter, for the rank odor of him by the end of her ordeal contrasted severely with the heated, masculine smell of both young men whose hands on her had felt so sublime.
After all, it was God’s fault, not hers, that her father had arranged a marriage with a man almost three times her age, and that the man collapsed and died while trying to dislodge a boulder in a field he’d just purchased to double his holdings.
What good was having a dowry, if you didn’t have a man to go with it? At twenty, she was still young enough to want a man in her bed every night. The value of her late husband’s farmland would turn more than one prospective suitor’s head, but she vowed not to allow her father to choose her next husband for her. No more old croakers like her late, unlamented husband. This time she would settle for no less than a young, virile man.
Although she’d been forced to return to her father’s home after Mr. Walcott’s death, she did have much more freedom now than before her marriage. Strolling through town to accomplish her errands without an officious chaperone allowed her all manner of conversation with members of the opposite sex. She supposed the Town Fathers—if not her own father—would try to force another marriage on her, if only to keep the tongues from wagging, and the men from lusting after someone who they perceived might be open to a little dalliance.
There was one man whose suit she might be inclined to accept. The burly blacksmith, Seth Burroughs. Her gaze had returned time and again to his piercing one as she leaned over the trestle, rubbing her nub against the oak for maximum pleasure. Of all the oglers, who had all been riveted on her breasts or her buttocks, he’d stared at her face unwaveringly, as though trying to convey an important fact without words.
Strong, bulging arms and thighs honed by his trade, dark brooding eyes, hair as black as the bottom of the kettle in the cooking fireplace. His wife had died in childbirth along with the babe, she recalled. Surely he knew his way around a woman’s body.
On the other hand, the young acolyte Adam, all wide bony shoulders and long legs he had yet to grow into, held promise with the amount and potency of his fluid pulsing out into her accommodating fist. More handsome and virile than his brother, she opined.
How delicious it would be to have both the acolyte and the blacksmith at the same time! She would have to make discreet inquiries as to whether the boy could become Master Burroughs’ apprentice and then she might fabricate a reason to patronize their—
“Mercy! Get thee into the keeping room. Now!”
The tenor of her father’s voice plunged Mercy’s reverie into the pit of her stomach. God’s teeth, when he sounded so fierce, he would as like toss the kettle of boiling water on her as send her to slop the hogs. Quickly she donned a night rail and wrapped a linsey-woolsey robe around her shapely body, wincing at the scrape of the rough fabric against the still-raw welts on her shoulders and arse.
“Yes, Father,” she called as she stepped carefully down the tightly winding stairway. Coming to a stop on the last riser, she noted the fire in the keeping room burned strongly so that no other illumination was needed to see him. Them.
The blacksmith. Sharing some of father’s tightly hoarded rum. Her heart stuttered. The very man she had just been concocting fantasies about.
She took a quick moment to notice details that in the blinding sunlight and frenzy of sexual release earlier today had eluded her. The harsh line of his black brows like streaks of charcoal from the forge, squint lines around his dark eyes, furrows outlining his unsmiling mouth. The sheen of his black hair, arranged in a neat queue that curved down his back, instead of a powdered wig such as worn by the Reverend. The pugnacious thrust of his jaw, the strong chin, the nose curved like the hawks that swooped down on unsuspecting rabbits.
The muscles of his thighs that bulged beneath his homespun breeches made her own leg muscles weak. Such power they implied! The things he could do with the strength implicit in his bared forearms!
The guest ignored her arrival, keeping his eyes firmly on the man who had power of life and death over her. Before her father could divine the nature of her dawdling, Mercy stepped forward and stood before him with artificial modesty. “I am here, Father.”
Only with the sound of her voice did the two men turn to her, her father frowning at her intimate attire, the other raking her with a frankly appraising look.
“Master Burroughs has selflessly offered to accept the burden the good and worthy citizens of Dunwood have suffered these past several months.”
“I—I do not understand.”
Her father’s dire gaze pinned her to the pine-planked floor. “All you need understand is that as of the morrow, Master Burroughs has agreed to take you to wife in exchange for your dowry of Asa Walcott’s lands, which I have held in trust for you.”
“What! You cannot be—”
“Silence!” His thunderous voice rolled around the large stone-walled room and came to rest heavily on her pounding heart. “You have shamed yourself and me with your promiscuous and devious ways. No God-fearing man is safe from your wiles as long as you remain free to sway your hips through the streets of Dunwood without escort.”
He took a heavy breath. “Being a widow does not give you license to lure the unwary to lecherous thoughts and deeds. You should be filling your days with good works for the poor instead of ensnaring the minds of those susceptible to the Devil’s intentions.”
“I have done no such—”
“You will not run your mouth to me! You have been nothing but a thistle in my boot since your worthy husband left his earthly home, God rest his immortal soul. You have caused me no end of dishonor by your shameless behavior. Today’s blatant display of your…your bosoms did not go unmentioned by the proper ladies of the church.”
With all her fierce will she kept her voice from rising to a screech. “It was the Reverend who stripped me of my gown, the Reverend who flogged me so harshly that I twisted and curled to avoid his vindictive strokes. Do not make it appear as though I deliberately sought to expose myself.” Mercy could feel her face and throat heat as the lie threatened to ensnare her.
Her father shot off his chair and lunged for her. “The Almighty help me, but I cannot wait until I am free of this burden of your insolent tongue! Would that I had been gifted with all sons, for your brothers have never shamed me.” He gripped her shoulders and began shaking her. Mercy’s head bobbed back and forth.
“I will handle the she-cat.” Master Burroughs calmly stepped forward, towering over them to lay a restraining hand on her father’s shoulder. The old man, heaving a deep and relieved breath, released her and, with an oath on his lips, retreated to the table and poured himself another mug of rum.
“Mercy Walcott,” the blacksmith said, gripping her shoulders with a fearsome strength, “you may have been able to ignore your father’s strictures, but I assure you, you will be subservient to me in all things.”
His eyes penetrated deep into hers, making her limbs weak, as did his thumbs lightly caressing her shoulders under the linsey-woolsey of her robe. “Beginning this moment you will obey me in matters large and small. You will walk a step behind me. You will hasten to do my bidding whatsoever it shall be. And I will save you from your wicked ways and protect you from the meddlers and the whisperers and, yes, the weak men who lust after you. Once you have felt the touch of my…dominance, you will wish for no other. This I promise.”
Releasing her, he spun on the heel of his shined leather boot and pinned her father with his stare. “I expect to see her at tomorrow’s church service, Mr. Phips, ready and willing to be wed.” His glance raked her for an instant, scalding her. “And I expect her to be suitably and demurely attired. Henceforth no man shall see any hint of what is mine alone.”
Without another word or glance, Master Burroughs departed her father’s humble home, leaving Mercy speechless and her heart thudding.