Fire and Ice is thrilled to be today’s stop on the official tour for The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki hosted by Kismet Book Touring. We have an exclusive excerpt from the book as well as a kindle paperwhite giveaway which is international! I love the cover…isn’t it gorgeous?!
A riveting historical novel about Peggy Shippen Arnold, the cunning wife of Benedict Arnold and mastermind behind America’s most infamous act of treason.
Everyone knows Benedict Arnold—the infamous Revolutionary War General who betrayed America and fled to the British as history’s most notorious turncoat. Many know Arnold’s co-conspirator, Major John André, who was apprehended with Arnold’s documents in his boots and hanged at the orders of General George Washington. But few know of the integral third character in the plot; a charming and cunning young woman, who not only contributed to the betrayal but orchestrated it.
Socialite Peggy Shippen is half Benedict Arnold’s age when she seduces the war hero during his stint as Military Commander of Philadelphia. Blinded by his young bride’s beauty and wit, Arnold does not realize that she harbors a secret: loyalty to the British. Nor does he know that she hides a past romance with the handsome British spy John André. Peggy watches as her husband, crippled from battle wounds and in debt from years of service to the colonies, grows ever more disillusioned with his hero, Washington, and the American cause. Together with her former lover and her disaffected husband, Peggy hatches the plot to deliver West Point to the British and, in exchange, win fame and fortune for herself and Arnold.
Told from the perspective of Peggy’s maid, whose faith in the new nation inspires her to intervene in her mistress’s affairs even when it could cost her everything, The Traitor’s Wife brings these infamous figures to life, illuminating the sordid details and the love triangle that nearly destroyed the American fight for freedom.
September 25, 1780 West Point Fort, New York
When the second messenger arrives on horseback, Mistress hears the frenzied pace of the horse hooves outside her open window.
“Another rider? Goodness, we must be the busiest home on the Hudson River this morning.” Mistress chuckles, tugging at the loose sleeves of her white linen nightdress. “Don’t they know we are set to receive Washington and his party for breakfast this morning? You’d think they could withhold these errands for at least one day.” She sighs, her features fresh from rest, beautiful beneath the frame of loose blond curls.
“Better go see what they want.” She directs me with a nod and I leave her room, making my way down the narrow wooden staircase.
“Scoot, pup.” I edge the dog aside from the door. From my perch on the front step, I shield my eyes and stare up the shaded post road. The rider emerges from the dappled cover of the thick trees into the stark early-morning light. My heart lurches involuntarily at the memory of another morning, when another rider had trotted up this trail. How that soldier had been here to see me. But I cannot allow myself to grow hazy in daydreaming, not today.
I notice that this man is not liveried in the General’s crest, and therefore does not come from Washington’s camp. He approaches the house at alarming speed, urging his weary horse forward with the ruthless spurs of his dusty boots. He halts just feet from me, his horse breathless, the rider looming over me like one of St. John’s horsemen come to warn us of the end of the world. I straighten up to my full height as the man alights from the horse, landing in a cloud of churned-up dirt, uniform filthy, hair matted with sweat.
“Can I help you?” I stand, sentry-like, before the front door of the farmhouse.
“I need to speak with Major General Benedict Arnold.” The man, still gasping for air, careens toward the house, dust surrounding him like a shroud. “Water my horse, miss. I must speak to the General!” The man hands me the bridle and staggers toward the front door without another word.
I hear the commotion in the front of the house as this lone rider calls out the master’s name: “Where is General Benedict Arnold? Urgent message for Benedict Arnold from the south Hudson.”
I tie this man’s horse to the post out front and glide noiselessly back into the house, positioning myself out of sight at the top of the stairway. I hear my master approach the messenger in the drawing room. His telltale plodding on the wooden floor—lopsided, uneven—due to the war wound that has forever crippled him and rendered his left leg useless. Muffled sounds as the master of the house greets the messenger, his voice like gravel as he chides his subordinate.
“What is your aim, man? Barging in on us like this on the morning we are to receive His Excellency George Washington, and with the lady of the house not yet arisen and
The messenger answers through uneven breath. “I assure you, Major General, you will pardon my abruptness when you see the message I’m delivering. I was ordered to deliver it posthaste.”
Good heavens, from where are you coming?” My master’s voice now betrays his alarm.
“North Castle Fort, down the Hudson. A full day’s ride, sir.”
“Give it here, then.” I hear papers being ruffled as they change hands. Silence follows, with just the sound of the morning birdsong to accompany the scene unfolding inside the farmhouse.
Then the master’s gait, again lopsided, but with an urgency I haven’t heard in years. He soon reaches the stairs, causing me to flee back into my mistress’s room.
“What is it?” Her eyes widen as I dash across the threshold of her sunlit chamber.
“Master’s coming!” is all I have time to say. We hear his rapid approach; using his impressive upper body strength, he’s pulling him- self up the stairs. The floorboards groan beneath his boots as he climbs. I look to my lady, and her features are horrorstruck as we understand each other. No words are needed between us after all these years.
“But surely it’s not . . . it can’t be?” Mrs. Arnold fidgets with the bedcovers, deliberating whether to rise or remain abed.
“Peggy.” Arnold bounds through the door, his hulking frame atremble in the doorway.
Struggling to breathe, he gasps, “They’ve found us out! All is lost, all is lost. We’re unearthed.”
His face tells me that he struggles just as much as my lady does to make sense of the words, even as his lips utter them. And then, as quickly as he entered, General Arnold exits back out my lady’s doorway. And I am left alone, in this room, with nothing but my lady and her shrill wails.
“BENEDICT!” she cries after him. “BENEDICT ARNOLD!”
ALLISON PATAKI grew up in upstate New York, in the same neighborhood where Benedict and Peggy Arnold once lived. Allison attended Yale University, where she graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in English. While at Yale, Allison received Distinction in the Major from the English department and served as a campus reporter and news anchor for the student-run campus television program, YTV News.
The daughter of former New York State Governor George E. Pataki, Allison was inspired to write The Traitor’s Wife: A Novel of Benedict Arnold and the Plan to Betray America based on the rich Revolutionary War history of her hometown in New York State’s Hudson Highlands.
Allison spent several years writing for television and digital news outlets prior to transitioning to fiction. The Traitor’s Wife: A Novel of Benedict Arnold and the Plan to Betray America is Allison’s first novel. Allison lives in Chicago with her husband.
Monday, January 20th – Daily Mayo
Tuesday, January 21st – Fire & Ice
Wednesday, January 22nd – Sofia Loves Books
Thursday, January 23rd – Little Miss Drama Queen
Friday, January 24th – Book – A – Holic
Monday, January 27th – The Most Happy Reader
Tuesday, January 28th – Evie Bookish
Wednesday, January 29th – Books Besides My Bed
Thursday, January 30th – Crossroad Reviews
Friday, January 31st – Reading Reality
Monday, February 3rd – Curling Up with a Good Book
Tuesday, February 4th – Le Grande Codex
Wednesday, February 5th – Bewitched Bookworms
Thursday, February 6th – Supernatural Snark
Friday, February 7th – Rose’s Book Corner
We have a fantastic giveaway for this tour: A Kindle paperwhite! This giveaway is open internationally provided Amazon.com ships to you.