The Lady and the Highwayman (The Dread Penny Society #1) by Sarah M. Eden
Publication Date: September 3rd, 2019
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Genre: Historical Fiction/Soft Romance
Elizabeth Black is the headmistress of a girls’ school and 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 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--and his profits. 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 rights of the less-fortunate.
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.
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.
This book was so much fun!
I loved how there were so many moving parts and really sets the stage for the continuing series. We have a woman who is a headmistress of high-society children, who is also an esteemed author while also writing under a male pseudonym and dreams of living out the stories found within Penny Dreadfuls. Then we have a man who authors one of the most popular Penny Dreadfuls but is also a part of an underground organization that helps those in need. The series of events that kicks off this relationship is layered and I love their dynamic for a multitude of reasons. It is always great when an author writes a strong self-reliant female lead and allows the male lead to trust her instead of constantly trying to ‘help’ her. These two are equals.
The actual plot is full of twists and turns with a lot of underground shady characters with action in all the right places. There are societal concerns of the time which feel genuine and not forced. There’s the perfect amount of subterfuge and just an all in all entertaining ride. Eden even sprinkles in chapters from the Penny Dreadfuls that our two leads are writing and it is a great way to learn more about their characters and seeing how their journeys in life relate to their fiction.
This was honestly such a great read and I enjoyed pretty much every moment of it. I do wish that there was more apparent romance between the Elizabeth and Fletcher but that is par for the course with these soft and sweet romances. That being said, I went into this expecting a light and fluffy read but there were some great action/adventure moments that caught me by surprise and had me even more invested. Also, that ending could not have been more perfect!
I would highly recommend this one if you are looking for something a bit different added to your soft romance and enjoy some playful secrets between partners. I definitely have book 2 lined up to read soon as well!