WICKED CAPTAIN, WAYWARD WIFE Mills & Boon ISBN 978 0 263 21447 5
"An enchanting historical romance charged with equal amounts of suspense and mystery, WICKED CAPTAIN, WAYWARD WIFE will mesmerize all readers." (Romance Junkies, July 2010)
Sarah Mallory’s latest enthralling historical for Mills and Boon is simply terrific! Wonderfully ingenious, highly atmospheric and thoroughly enjoyable, Wicked Captain, Wayward Wife is a spellbinding page-turner that sparkles with vivid period detail, excellent characterization, poignant romance and enough nail-biting intrigue to keep readers engrossed until the very last page! (Cataromance, May 2010)
"Every woman deserves a Nick Wylder in their life..... Readers from all walks of life will fall in love with Ms. Mallory's stunning duo in WICKED CAPTAIN, WAYWARD WIFE." (Romance Junkies July 2010)
London: Early Spring 1782
Lord North was shown into the chambers of the young Member of Parliament for Appleby and stopped just inside the door, puffing out his cheeks and glaring at his host.
'Well, sir, you said it was important that I come to you, and here I am. I am not in the habit of visiting every new member of the House – especially when they will vote against me, like as not. It is only out of deference for your father that I am here at all!'
'And I am sincerely grateful to you, my lord. Pray, will you not be seated?'
'Very well, very well, but what is your business, Mr Pitt?' Lord North lowered his ample bulk into a chair and fixed his rather puffy eyes upon his slender young host. 'I am a very busy man, you know.'
'Indeed you are, sir, and I will be brief. But let me beg you to join me in a dish of tea.'
'From what I have heard a glass of port or brandy would be more to your taste, Pitt, but if you insist upon maudlin your insides with that stuff…'
Tea is shall be then,' Mr Pitt pushed the kettle more securely over the flames and it was soon singing merrily. 'So, my lord, the subject of the tax on tea has raised its head again. There were questions in the House today.' He carefully lifted the kettle and proceeded to fill the fine silver tea pot resting on the small side table.
'Aye, the Tories are baying for blood, as usual, yet if you were to look carefully into their accounts I'd wager more than half of 'em are customers of the free traders!'
'But the tax is very high, you cannot deny it,' remarked Mr Pitt, gently shaking the pot. 'And high taxes for something the people want…. it encourages the – er – free traders.'
Lord North sighed.
'I know it, but wars are expensive, as you are well aware. And this business with the rebels in America – well, there we are. It must be paid for. Smuggling is regrettable and we do our best to discourage it, but when so many turn a blind eye, what can one do?''
'But you will agree that a line must be drawn somewhere,' said Mr Pitt, filling a cup and handing it to his guest.
'Oh indeed, indeed. Our preventive officers do their best, and if an area becomes particularly lawless then we send in the dragoons, but you know as well as I that until the tax is reduced the problem will continue, Mr Pitt.'
'Indeed, it will, my lord. How is your tea?'
Lord North took another sip.
'Well enough, sir,' he said cautiously. 'Although I do not recognise the flavour. A new blend, is it?'
'No, no, it is one that is very common. It is called, among other things, English tea.'
Lord North stared at him.
'Yes,' continued Mr Pitt cheerfully. 'Also known as smouch, of course. Made from dried hawthorn, ash or blackthorn leaves mixed with sheep's dung, copperas (which you may know as green vitriol) and even the contents of your chamber pot –' he broke off as Lord North put his cup down with a clatter. 'My dear sir, is anything amiss?'
'Amiss? Of course it is amiss! You are trying to poison me, sir!
'No, sir, I have served you merely what is being passed off upon our unsuspecting people as tea. Adulterated mixes such as this are being smuggled in and sold every day.'
'Well then, sir, something must be done about it!'
Mr Pitt put down his own cup and sat back, grinning.
'I wholeheartedly agree with you, my lord. And I know just the man to do it!'
© Sarah Mallory