Stand And Deliver by Philip Caveney

Publication Date: 3 November 2022

The Blurb

Ned is awkward, a little shy, and just trying to find his place in the world. He also happens to be the assistant to the nation’s most feared highwayman, The Shadow . . .

In a time when highwaymen ruled the roads, Ned is reluctantly swept up into a whirlwind of adventure. Whilst escaping the grasps of the thief-takers, Ned soon finds himself stepping into his Master’s shoes and an unwanted life of crime. The pressure is building with new friends and enemies galore when Ned stumbles upon a long-infamous gem, The Bloodstone, which forces him to make an important choice. Can he ultimately escape this new threat and finally free himself from the grips of The Shadow?

Cover illustration by Jill Tytherleigh

The Review

From the moment I read (*sang) the title I knew I was in for daring deeds and nefarious schemes. Little did I know just how dangerous The Shadow would be, let alone the enemies he would make along the way.

The Shadow is a feared highway man who sees himself living a life similar to Robin Hood – he robs the rich, and lives in Epping Forest. He has no desire to work for a living when he can take one from the wealthy travellers who are unlucky enough to cross his path, but knows he needs his apprentice for certain tasks if he is to stay out of the clutches of the thief takers and judges who would see him hang for his crimes.

Ned, his quiet, grateful apprentice, is a victim of circumstance and of the times the story is set in. Knowing full well if he ends up in a work-house, he will never leave, the opportunity to be anyone’s apprentice when he is nothing but a street beggar is more than he could have hoped for. With dreams of becoming a carpenter, seeing to the daily needs of a notorious highwayman sit at jarring odds with his morals, but fear keeps him from running away.

Eliza, the thief-takers daughter is another character stuck because of the rules of the era. Her dreams of working with her father go against everything society says about young ladies. Instead of chasing down thieves and cutthroats with a blunderbuss in her skirt band, she should be preparing herself as a lady of fine standing in order to get a good husband when the time comes.

With many opportunities to discuss the lines of morality within the story and the changing gender stereotypes over time, this is one that is not for the faint hearted. There are grizzly scenes where violent outbursts by the villains made me wince, between scenes that made me laugh and scenes that had me cheering characters on.

Great for readers seeking a good old-fashioned action adventure!

The Exclusive Extract


In which we meet the dreaded highwayman, Tom Gregory, also known as The Shadow – and the coachman, Samuel Deakins, has a very bad day.

“Hey – arrr!”

The coach and horses raced through the forest, wheels clattering on the road’s hard earth surface. The coachman, a big, heavyset fellow in a long woollen coat and tricorn hat, snapped the reins against the horses’ backs, keeping one eye warily on the dense woodland that bordered the road to his right. In a leather holder on the seat beside him, a loaded blunderbuss stood ready for action.

Samuel Deakins knew only too well that this stretch of road was a favourite haunt of the infamous highwayman, Tom Gregory, known locally as ‘The Shadow’. Over the past few months, Gregory’s raids had become ever more frequent, ever more audacious. It was a brave man who dared oppose him.

Samuel was not particularly brave, though he was the only coachman prepared to take passengers along this route – and, even then, only after demanding a raise of a guinea over the usual fare. Samuel had a wife and two young children to feed and a landlord who didn’t like to be kept waiting for his rent money. These were the main reasons he was on the road today.

The horses began to lag a little and he snapped the reins again and gave a loud “Giddy up!” He wanted to be along this remote stretch of road as soon as possible, drinking a foaming tankard of ale in the coaching inn in Epping Town. Until he was there, he intended to linger not a moment more than necessary. But it was only an instant later that he became horribly aware of a dark shape moving through the trees up ahead of him and, when he lifted his gaze to take a proper look, he saw to his dismay that a cloaked and masked figure, sitting astride a fearsome black stallion, was galloping out of the woods towards him. The newcomer held a flintlock pistol in his gloved right hand. It was Tom Gregory, riding his almost equally famous horse, Black Bill. The highwayman drew to a halt on the road ahead, the pistol pointed straight at Samuel’s chest.

“Stand and deliver!” he roared.

Samuel realised that he had no option but to pull on the reins and draw his own horses to a halt. But even as they slowed, he snatched up his blunderbuss and levelled it at the cloaked figure.

“I’d advise you, sir, to ride on by,” he cried, in what he hoped was a stern voice.

Tom Gregory seemed amused by this. His wide mouth split into a grin.

“Bravely spoken,” said the highwayman. “I do admire bravery. But it’s one thing being a brave man and quite another being a dead brave man.”

Samuel swallowed hard.

“Sir, you are in my sights,” he said. “I cannot miss.”

“That may be so,” agreed Tom, his voice calm. “But if you pull that trigger, at the same instant I shall pull mine and – though you may be a fair shot – I, sir, never miss. My bullet will strike you in the heart and you will not live to tell your friends how brave you were the day you came up against The Shadow.”

Samuel considered these words for a moment. He thought of his dear wife, Hettie, waiting for him at home and he thought about his two children, Ethan and Ruth, and how devastated they would be if their father never returned from work. In the end, it was not a difficult decision to make. He lowered the blunderbuss and, with a sigh, threw it down onto the road.

“A sensible move,” observed Tom. “You made the right decision.” He swung himself down from the saddle, still holding the pistol on Samuel, and then strode forward to the door of the carriage.

“Now,” he said, “Let us see who we have in here.” He reached up his left hand, unlatched the door and threw it open, revealing a middle-aged man and a younger woman. They were sitting opposite each other on the narrow seats and both of them looked well-fed and prosperous. The man wore a finely brocaded silk jacket, a waistcoat and a powdered wig that curled just above his ears. The woman wore a black velvet travel coat over a fine gown of green silk and a rather old-fashioned pompadour wig, piled high on her pretty head. She was staring at Tom in evident terror. He made a rather mocking bow, and drew from his pocket a large leather bag with a tie string at the top, which he handed to the man.

“Sir, madam,” he said. “Give up your treasures!”

Samuel winced when he heard this. It was Tom’s favourite cry, and everyone who had ever been robbed by him remembered it.

“You blackguard,” snarled the man in the coach. “How dare you accost us in this fashion? Have you any idea who I am?”

“None at all,” admitted Tom. “But from your tone, it’s clear you have a high opinion of yourself. I would guess . . . a merchant?”

The man scowled.

“I am Sir Percival Benton!”

“Good for you,” said Tom. “And this handsome woman is your wife?”

“She is, and how dare you make such a saucy observation about her?”

“Oh, I’m full of surprises,” said Tom. “Now, sir, I would ask you to place anything of value into that bag. You may start with your purse and whatever watch is attached to that fancy chain I see in your waistcoat.” He turned his gaze on the woman. “Madam, your jewellery, if you please. Splendid as it looks around your neck, I rather fancy it’d look even better in my swag bag.”

You are impertinent, sir,” said the woman, but she reached up to unclasp the necklace of glittering jewels from around her neck. “I seem to be having trouble with the catch,” she said.

“You’re playing for time,” said Tom, stepping closer. “Hand over the goods!”

Sir Percival gasped in outrage and started to get up from his seat, but sat down again when Tom jammed the barrel of the pistol into his chest. The highwayman leant into the coach, took the jewels from the woman’s hand and dropped them into his bag.

“There now,” he said. “Just think of all the pleasures the sale of these diamonds will bring me, and you’ll sleep soundly tonight.” He reached out, took one of her hands in his and planted a kiss on the back of it.

“Oh, sir, you go too far,” she gasped.

“This is an outrage!” hissed Sir Percival. “When the authorities hear about it, you will have the very devil to pay.”

Tom shrugged his shoulders.

“The authorities know all about me, sir,” he said, “but so far, nobody has dared to come looking for The Shadow.” He gazed at the man for a moment. “And you, sir, seem to have forgotten the fine gold ring you are wearing,” he said.

“Oh, er . . . it’s too tight to come off,” said Sir Percival. “It was a gift from my father, and I have worn it for years.”

Tom nodded.

“Allow me to help,” he said. He reached into his belt with his free hand and withdrew a vicious-looking knife. “I’ll have that finger off in the blink of an eye.”

“Er no, wait! Wait, I do believe . . . it’s getting looser,”said Sir Percival. He made a show of having to struggle to remove it, but it came off easily enough and he dropped it into the bag.

“Excellent,” said Tom. He stood for a moment, staring intently at his two victims. “I trust you have not forgotten anything?” he asked them. “I could always order you to remove all of your clothing. I did that with the last people I accosted, and you’d be amazed what treasures they had tucked away in their . . .”

He did not need to finish the sentence. Sir Percival somehow ‘found’ a silver snuff box and a diamond stickpin, while his wife produced a gold bracelet and a coin-stuffed purse of her own. Tom took the swag bag from them and once more bowed mockingly.

“I am in your debt,” he told them. “And it has been a pleasure meeting you both. Now, I feel I have interrupted your journey long enough. I bid you a fond farewell.”

Sir Percival was gazing at Tom with undisguised hatred.

“You have not heard the last of this, sir,” he warned the highwayman. “I shall not rest until I see you hanged. Indeed, I shall make it my personal mission.”

“How charming,” said Tom. “And I, sir, for my part, would like to thank you for your generosity.” And with that, he slammed the door shut. He stepped away from the coach and glanced up at Samuel, who was sitting there, looking rather shamefaced.

“Why, sir, what ails you? I confess I have never seen so sad an expression.”

“I have been a coward,” said Samuel. “I should have faced up to you, but I did not and now my two passengers have been robbed.”

“Allow me to make you feel better,” said the highwayman. He swung the pistol in Samuel’s direction and held the bag open. “You may throw down your own purse and pocket watch, my friend. That way, you won’t feel that you’ve had any kind of special treatment.”

Samuel glared at the highwayman for a moment. Then he shook his head and laughed bitterly. He found the two items and flung them into the open bag.

“Now I’m sure you feel just like your passengers,” said Tom. “Being robbed is a great leveller, don’t you think?” He strode over to Black Bill, hooked the leather bag on to the pommel and swung himself easily into the saddle. He glanced thoughtfully down at the discarded blunderbuss, still lying in the road, then looked back at Samuel.

“Please do not entertain thoughts of picking up that weapon and firing at me as I ride away,” he said. “If you do, you will undoubtedly miss and I, in turn, will be forced to ride back here and shoot you down like a dog. I would prefer to avoid such unpleasantness.” He backed Black Bill expertly along the road for a short distance, then swung him around and galloped off into the trees. Samuel sat for a moment, watching him disappear into the shadows; it occurred tohim then that this must be how the man had acquired his famous nickname.

Samuel clambered down from his seat and opened the coach door to find Sir Percival attempting to comfort his wife. She was sobbing hysterically, though it seemed to Samuel that there was something a bit theatrical about her reaction.

“Sir Percival,” he began. “Please forgive me. There was absolutely nothing I could do. He appeared like a ghost out of nowhere.”

Sir Percival glared at the coachman, his face red, eyes blazing with anger.

“That’s no excuse,” he snarled. “It is your responsibility to see to the safety of your passengers.”


“But that damned highwayman has picked the wrong victims this time. I will see to it that he comes to regret ever hearing my name. Now, take us to Epping without further delay!”

“Of course, sir.” Samuel closed the door. He hurried across the road to retrieve his blunderbuss and then scrambled back up to his seat. He jammed the weapon into its leather holder, snatched up the reins and slapped them across the horse’s backs. “Yaa!” he shouted, and the horses moved off, clearly as eager to be away from this place as he was.


Tom rode deep into the forest, keeping his head down to avoid being hit by low-hanging branches. Though he knew his way back to his hideout with ease, he made a point of never travelling back to it by the same route, just in case anybody ever worked up enough courage to follow him.

After half an hour’s riding, he came to a place where the ground dropped away beside a high outcrop of grey stone. To one side of it, a waterfall cascaded down a rock face into a shallow pool, before tumbling away into a gully. Within the cliff itself, there was an opening, which led into a surprisingly roomy cave. This had been Tom’s hideout for the past few months. He had found it quite by accident when riding through the forest and realised its potential straight away. Remote, well hidden, and surprisingly warm at night, here was a place where a man could base himself through the summer, while he steadily earnt a small fortune from the many coaches and carts that made the journey along the high road to Epping.

He pulled Black Bill to a halt and then sat there, looking around the clearing. “Ned?” he called. “Ned! Where are you?”

No answer.

Tom scowled. Where is that boy? he wondered.

Huge thanks to Uclan Publishing for sending me a copy and inviting me to take party in the blog tour. Do make sure you check out all of the other stops.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s