Catherine C. Heywood
The epic conclusion to Ground Sweet as Sugar, the unforgettable coming-of-age saga of one girl’s fight for her freedom, her country, and her heart…
1801: After two years, Charlotte Dillon returns enchained to James Blair. Once again, she’s condemned and he’s entangled with another. Yet the longing that has always persisted between them remains. While his sailors demand blood, James is faced with an agonizing test: How to exact a just punishment on the one woman he can’t bear to hurt?
Bound in an impossible love, James and Charlotte confront cunning threats, endure a devastating storm, and face the tenderest of reckonings.
Meanwhile in Ireland, Charlotte’s aunt chases down the mystery that tore a family and a country apart. A young lord comes of age still dreaming of justice for his brother. And when menacing shadows surround them, James and Charlotte must fight to save every piece of sweetness they’ve earned.
Sweeping from a roiling Caribbean to a conspiring Ireland, The Virtues of Vice is Book II in an epic saga of power, punishment, and undying love.
Photo Credit: Jenny Loew
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The carriage rocks to a stop, and James leaps out. The Resolute is nearing the dock but hasn’t yet lowered her anchor. Finally, after almost an hour of anxious waiting, the ship slips neatly into her berth. James stares impatiently at the crew until they drop the gangplank, then he races onto the ship, and sailors dart out of his way as he heads for the captain’s cabin.
There the big man emerges and the planter stops with terrible hope squeezing his chest. When Keogh nods, James swallows an anguished cry and rushes into the cabin.
A slight person with soft features lies sleeping on her side. She wears a man’s cambric shirt; her face is brown with dirt, has painted-on whiskers, and heavily kohled eyes; and her mane of auburn hair is littered with knotty braids. James drops to his knees and finds the telltale JB scarred into her palm. Heat floods behind his eyes, and his shaking hands hover.
“I don’t know what to do.” James’s breath leaves him. “I want so desperately to hold her and… at the same time”—he shakes his head—“I want to bring her to her knees.” Eventually his hands rest on the bed beside her, his fingers poised to touch her. “It makes no sense.”
“It makes perfect sense.”
“She sleeps. Is she…?”
“Perfectly fit, only drugged. A salty meal and heavy pours of wine dosed with some of Billy’s valerian.”
“She’s not exactly resigned to her fate and tried to remedy the matter herself. I thought it would be easier, until you decide what to do with her, to steal her away from the ship like this.”
“‘Remedy the matter’? She hates me so much?”
“She believes you intend to kill her.”