The Unexpected Wife

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Crushed with grief after the death of his son, Charles Wheatly, Duke of Murnane, throws himself into the new Queen’s service in 1838. When the government sends him on an unofficial fact finding mission to the East India Company’s enclave in Canton, China, he anticipates intrigue, international tensions, and an outlet for his frustration. He isn’t entirely surprised when he also encounters a pair of troublesome young people that need his help. However, the appearance of his estranged wife throws the entire enterprise into conflict. He didn’t expect to face his troubled marriage in such an exotic locale, much less to encounter profound love at last in the person of a determined young woman. Tensions boil over, and his wife’s scheming—and the beginnings of the First Opium War—force him to act to rescue the one he loves and perhaps save himself in the process.

Zambak Hayden seethes with frustration. A woman her age has occupied the throne for over a year, yet the Duke of Sudbury’s line of succession still passes over her—his eldest—to land on a son with neither spine nor character. She follows her brother, the East India Company’s newest and least competent clerk, to protect him and to safeguard the family honor. If she also escapes the gossip and intrigues of London and the marriage mart, so much the better. She has no intention of being forced into some sort of dynastic marriage. She may just refuse to marry at all. When an old family friend arrives she assumes her father sent him. She isn’t about to bend to his dictates nor give up her quest. Her traitorous heart, however, can’t stop yearning for a man she can’t have.

Neither expects the epic historical drama that unfolds around them.


The European Quarter, Canton

Charles appears in the first two books in the Children of Empire series as a secondary character. His first appearance in my writing is as a boy in A Dangerous Nativity, a novella that is currently free.

All novels have backstory. Caroline often puts snippets in The Teatime Tattler. This story is no exception. Check out:

Men Are So Blind

An Ill-fated Wedding

Whispers in a Closet

For a preview, try the book trailer.

“The author deftly balances the romance with the political intrigue of the opium trade and Charles’ quest to end his disastrous marriage. An entertaining, page-turning historical romance that may appeal to fans of Eloisa James.”

Kirkus Reviews

“…this book that grabbed my heart and did not let go until the end. All of the reasons I love historical romance were found in this story that was rich in history and took me to a place not often visited, China in 1838.”

Night Owl Romance Top Pick

“This epic romance will leave readers in awe.”

InD’Tale Magazine Crowned Heart of Excellence

Winner: Raven Award from Uncaged Books