About the Book
Book: The Lady and the Highwayman
Series: Proper Romance Victorian, #1
Author: Sarah M. Eden
Release Date: September 2, 2019
Genre: Victorian-era Romance
Elizabeth Black is the headmistress of a girls’ school in 1830s Victorian London. She is also a well-respected author of ”silver-fork” novels, stories written both for and about the upper-class ladies of Victorian society. But by night, she writes very different kinds of stories–the Penny Dreadfuls that are all the rage among the working-class men. Under the pseudonym Charles King, Elizabeth has written about dashing heroes fighting supernatural threats, intelligent detectives solving grisly murders, and dangerous outlaws romancing helpless women. They contain all the adventure and mystery that her real life lacks.
Fletcher Walker began life as a street urchin, but is now the most successful author in the Penny Dreadful market, that is until Charles King started taking all of his readers. No one knows who King is, including Fletcher’s fellow members of the Dread Penny Society, a fraternity of authors dedicated to secretly fighting for the social and political causes of their working-class readers. The group knows King could be an asset with his obvious monetary success, or he could be the group’s undoing as King’s readership continues to cut into their profits.
Determined to find the elusive Mr. King, Fletcher approaches Miss Black. As a fellow-author, she is well-known among the high-class writers; perhaps she could be persuaded to make some inquiries as to Mr. King’s whereabouts? Elizabeth agrees to help Fletcher, if only to insure her secret identity is never discovered. What neither author anticipated was the instant attraction, even though their social positions dictate the impossibility of a relationship.
For the first time Elizabeth experiences the thrill of a cat-and-mouse adventure reminiscent of one of her own novels as she tries to throw Fletcher off her scent. But the more time they spend together, the more she loses her heart. Its upper-class against working-class, author against author where readers, reputations, and romance are all on the line.
What a fun read! In The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden the reader is actually treated to three books in one. The main narrative follows Fletcher Walker and Elizabeth Black, both notable authors in their own right. By day, Fletcher is a popular penny dreadful author who pens tales about street urchins and the ugly, sinister monsters out to get them. Pulling from his own childhood, Fletcher is never without a good yarn to tell. By night, however, Fletcher and his noble Penny Dreadful Society members do all they can to right the wrongs against the most vulnerable populations in London — the very poor, the very orphaned, and the very downtrodden. Over on the better side of the tracks, Miss Elizabeth Black is headmistress of a school for middle-class girls. Her goal is to give her students the opportunity to succeed in a world where they really don’t fit in — they aren’t quite poor enough to be considered urchins, but they certainly aren’t wealthy enough to be part of the elite. Elizabeth, however, is willing to do all she can to keep her students and her school afloat. While her students are all tucked into bed fast asleep, Elizabeth stays up late into the night penning penny dreadfuls herself, loving every minute of it and praying no one discovers her secret. Because if anyone in Society ever found out she wrote such lowbrow literature her school would be done quicker than you could say, “kill the canary!”
My favorite aspect to this story is the character of both Fletcher and Elizabeth. To say they are both brave would be an understatement. Fletcher was born and raised on the mean streets of London. His number one goal in life is to produce enough money through his penny dreadfuls so he can take care of the many children who find themselves in situations that he luckily absconded from. Fletcher’s entire life is dedicated to saving young street boys and girls from beatings, starvation, misuse, homelessness, and prostitution. Elizabeth’s character is quite the same. Although she did not grow up in a situation like Fletcher’s, she knows what it is to lose social standing. Elizabeth is not afraid of hard work and sacrifice, and she does just that in this story. What I love the most about Elizabeth is her ability to sacrifice her safety and security for the sake of one destitute and abused child. She doesn’t need the boy’s backstory. Knowing that a child is in danger and in need of her help is enough to throw Elizabeth into action. The world would be a much better and safer place if there were more Elizabeths and Fletchers in it.
As I said above, readers are treated to three stories in one in The Lady and the Highwayman. Book two and three in this novel are actually the penny dreadful serials by Fletcher and Elizabeth. I won’t go into detail in regards to these two story lines because they are delightful and I don’t want to ruin a thing about them. But, I will say that I am incredibly impressed. I can only imagine how intense it is to write one novel, but to write three unique plots in one book is quite the feat! I thoroughly enjoyed reading “The Vampire’s Tower” and “The Lady and the Highwayman.” I found both stories to be unique, engaging, suspenseful, and fun. And, I love how each serial shows a little bit more into the hearts and character of both Fletcher and Elizabeth.
The Lady and the Highwayman is a fun story and I’m really sad my time with Fletcher and Elizabeth is up for now. I definitely look forward to book two in this series, The Gentleman and the Thief, due to release on November 3. If you are a fan of penny dreadfuls, Victorian Romances, and/or just plain good storytelling then The Lady and the Highwayman is the book for you!
I purchased an eBook copy of this novel from Amazon.com on September 2, 2019, in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.