The Runaway Wife

by Jane Bonander

The Runaway Wife

“Bonander writes with an easy style that brings her characters and timeframe to vivid, entertaining life.”
— RT Book Reviews.

In 1880 in Chicago, Anastasia Radcliffe plans her escape from her abusive husband down to the last detail. Leaving her wealth and her family behind, she fakes her own drowning, takes on a new identity and flees to California.

There, as Tansy Leigh, she begins a new life, claiming to be a farmer’s widow.

But the sheriff, Jesse Wolfe, thinks there was something fishy about the widow’s story, and he is determined to discover what it is. Tainted by a failed marriage to a socialite who left him and their sickly daughter and returned to her comfortable life, he concentrates on caring for his daughter.

Hired as the little girl’s tutor, Tansy begins to not only fall in love with the child, but also with the tall, handsome, often terse and overprotective father. Unbeknownst to both, a tragic history ties them together, and by the time Jesse discovers what it is, he has already fallen in love.

A valued pocket watch sold to a jeweler hundreds of miles away causes her husband to believe she may still be alive.

A bounty hunter sent by Tansy’s husband innocently alerts Jesse to the secret that painfully ties them together.

Before Jesse can confront Tansy, she is abducted by her husband and whisked away to be permanently institutionalized for ‘melancholia’.

A secret note in a beloved novel provides clues to her husband’s past and puts her family on the trail to save her.

Jesse must follow the trail as well and find a way to rescue Tansy and finally learn the truth.


Release Date: June 9, 2020
Genre: Historical Romance





Lake Forest, Illinois — March 1882


Ernest Jarvis was dying. He knew it, his doctor knew it, his family knew it, but he was the only one who knew he would die tonight. His fingers, once long and strong, were now weak and trembling as he folded the missive in half and then again to make it small enough to hide between the pages of the book.

She read to him every night; surely she would find it. He would be gone by morning. He would miss the sound of her voice as she read, for she enjoyed the words perhaps even more than he did. Truthfully, the story, Little Women, was her choice. He had acquiesced, as he always did with her.

But she would heed the letter. She was his daughter through and through. She would not believe his words were merely the fears of an old man on the verge of death. She had to know what he discovered before it was too late.

Chapter One


March, 1883 — One year after her father’s death


Anastasia heard her husband on the stairs and immediately felt sick to her stomach. She gripped her silver handled brush and appeared calm as she continued to run it through her hair, but, as usual, her insides were in turmoil.

Oliver stepped into the room; she avoided his gaze and kept hers on the top of her dressing table where a half dozen bottles of expensive perfumes and lotions were carefully placed on one side, an inch and a quarter apart. On the other side was her Moroccan leather jewelry case, full to the brim with things she rarely if ever wore. Everything inside was neatly partitioned off. We don’t like messes, do we, dahling? She clenched her teeth. His British accent no longer appealed to her.

He came toward her and placed his hands on her shoulders, dipping one down into her dressing gown, over her breast. Her nipple automatically tightened, but not from desire.

“Ah, I can still arouse you, can’t I?” He gave the breast a squeeze, then squeezed it a little harder, causing her to swallow a gasp.

She clenched her jaw and squelched a shiver of revulsion and glanced in the mirror. He wore his gray flannel suit with a gray and red striped cravat. His dark hair, silver at the temples, was immaculately combed, and she smelled his expensive pomade. Had she not loathed him she might have found him handsome. She did at one time. His diamond and sapphire ring sparkled on his little finger. The ring she purchased for him when they wed. With her money, which of course, was now his to spend as well.

“Good morning, ma Cherie.” Once a long time ago, or so it seemed, his words had softened her. Ugh. Now when he spoke French she wanted to retch. She had preened when he called her ‘my dear.’ No more. When you are called dear in one breath and cow in the next, it’s hard to feel special.

“I’ve ordered a bath for you this morning. To soothe what hurts you.”

How very thoughtful since you are the one who left the bruises. But she knew the routine.

Her gaze returned to the top of the dressing table. “Thank you,” she answered, forcing a smile.

He drew a chair up beside her and gently touched the bruise on her chin. She flinched and pulled away. “You know, Anastasia, if you wouldn’t embarrass me in public, these things wouldn’t happen.”

They had dined with one of the company’s biggest clients the night before. Ernest Jarvis had amassed a great fortune in mining in California years ago. After Anastasia’s father died, her Uncle Horace led the business and had given Oliver a fine position when he married Anastasia.

Of course, there had been those months before the wedding when he wooed her, appeared to really care for her and made every effort to become part of the family. He had come to them with a proper introduction from an old family friend in London who had, unfortunately, died. He was mannerly and presented a confident front, something that had appealed to Horace after Papa died.

Anastasia had since learned that her husband could be anyone he chose to be. To everyone else, he was charming, his personality magnetic. To her, if they were alone, he was critical of everything she did, constantly trying to make her into something she definitely was not. And he was mean, cruel, and brutish.

Had he thought marrying into Chicago’s society would yield him a proper debutante, he was mightily disappointed for Anastasia was not. It had not taken her long to realize that his interest in her was merely financial.

Earlier yesterday, Anastasia had spent hours in her garden, working so intensely that she hadn’t realized how exhausted she had become. At the restaurant where they dined with the client and his wife, Anastasia tried to stifle a yawn but didn’t catch it in time. That was all it took. She knew what would happen once they got home. And the punishment never failed to fit the crime in Oliver’s eyes. He had slapped her so hard she fell backwards into the corner of a table. She didn’t think it had broken the skin, and the bruise on her cheek was minor. But the contusion on her back was large and sore.

Sex always followed the beatings. She had long since stopped calling it love making as there was no love or interest involved on her part. But as long as she lay there and didn’t resist, he seemed satisfied. She learned early on that if she fought him, he hurt her more. He enjoyed inflicting pain.


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