One of the first things we learn about Sarah, the heroine of To Kiss a Thief—other than her apparent involvement in the disappearance of a priceless sapphire necklace, of course—is that she has a weakness for sweet things. While she’s been masquerading as Mrs. Fairfax in the tiny fishing village of Haverhythe, the local baker has become one of her dearest friends:
“See something that tempts your sweet tooth, Mrs. F.?” The baker came to the door of his shop, his head dusted with white where he had run a floury hand over his balding pate.
“Oh, Mr. Beals, I shouldn’t. I’m late for tea as it is, and Mrs. Potts will have my head.” Sarah nevertheless cast a longing glance at the wares displayed in the shop window. “Do you suppose, perhaps, a currant cake would appease her?”
Mr. Beals’s face split into a grin beneath his bushy moustache, and he stepped back into his shop to fetch an already-wrapped parcel.
It sounds like someone knows the way to Sarah’s heart! But the hero, Sarah’s estranged husband, still has a few things to learn. After more than three years apart, Sarah and St. John unexpectedly find themselves face-to-face across the tea table.
After a moment, she turned back to the table and closed her hand around a knife. “Bread and butter?” she asked, as calmly as if they were discussing the weather. “Or—” her hand hovered over the tray “—or currant cake?”
“No, thank you,” he said, fighting the sardonic smile that had risen to his lips.
“Something amuses you?”
He took a sip of the scalding tea in an attempt to drive down the uneasy laughter that was rising in his chest. “I confess I find this charming domestic scene a bit at odds with our situation,” he said with a nod toward the knife.
But Sarah did not seem to find any humor in it. She paused in the act of slicing the cake and laid the knife aside. “May I ask again why you’ve come? And why now?”
It’s going to take more than pastry to repair this relationship…
Currants are traditional in any number of traditional English treats, including hot-cross buns. But here’s the sort of currant cake I had in mind when I wrote those scenes (and if you can’t find currants, try raisins, dried cranberries, or even blueberries instead).
Currant Tea Bread (from Taste of Home)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups milk
1-1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking power
1 cup dried currants
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the milk and lemon peel. Combine flour and baking powder; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in currants.
Transfer to a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.
Now, cut yourself a slice, pour a cup of tea, and sit down with a good book. May I suggest To Kiss a Thief?
Sarah Pevensey had hoped her arranged marriage to St. John Sutliffe, Viscount Fairfax, could become something more. But almost before it began, it ended in a scandal that shocked London society. Accused of being a jewel thief, Sarah fled to a small fishing village to rebuild her life.
The last time St. John saw his new wife, she was nestled in the lap of a soldier, disheveled, and no longer in possession of his family’s heirloom sapphire necklace. Now, three years later, he has located Sarah and is determined she pay for her crimes. But the woman he finds is far from what he expected. Humble and hardworking, Sarah has nothing to hide from her husband—or so it appears. Yet as he attempts to woo her to uncover her secrets, St. John soon realizes that if he’s not careful, she’ll steal his heart…
“An impressive debut, with evocative prose and richly drawn characters. To Kiss a Thief will leave you breathless, and eagerly wanting more.” —New York Times bestselling author Jennifer McQuiston
“An achingly romantic tale of a second chance at love. Beautifully written, richly atmospheric, deeply felt, and so deftly researched—I felt utterly absorbed into the world of late Georgian England. I’m tremendously excited to discover such an elegant new voice in historical romance!” —New York Times bestselling author Meredith Duran