The Lady and the Highwayman
by Sarah M. Eden
Series: Proper Romance Victorian
Published by Shadow Mountain
Publication Date September 1, 2019
Genres: Historical Fiction, Clean Romance, Mystery, Action/Adventure
Setting: England Victorian Era – UK – 1837 – 1901
Main Character Ages: 25-34
Written for: Adults
Elizabeth Black is the headmistress of a girls’ school in 1865 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 Mr. 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 Mr. 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.
I would like to thank Shadow Mountain for giving me this copy of the book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.
What a delightful story!
I had so much fun reading The Lady and the Highwayman! While the concept isn’t entirely new, I loved the way author Sarah M. Eden executed it, going between Elizabeth’s story, then Fletcher’s, then a chapter of her novel, then one of his. Instead of making the story feel disjointed and confusing, the inserted narratives added a level of interest and were woven into the events that were taking place as well.
One of the reasons this was fun is the content of the Penny Dreadful that Fletcher wrote. If you know much about me, you’ll know I don’t do vampire stories. And, of course, Fletcher’s story is about street urchins and a vampire! Yet with the way it was written, and short and middle-school level scary, it worked for me.
I loved the deep, caring characters, Elizabeth and Fletcher, who had compassion for the underdog and the oppressed. The rescues the Dreadful Penny Society staged and even the way they continued to protect those who had been rescued were simply marvelous!
If you enjoy imaginative historical fiction, be sure to read The Lady and the Highwayman!