The Lady and the Highwayman

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Pub Date 03 Sep 2019 | Archive Date 17 Sep 2019

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Description

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.

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...


A Note From the Publisher

A historical romance set in London, England in the 1830s. This Victorian time period was well-known for its gothic romances and "Penny Dreadfuls"-cheap, sensational fiction read by young, working-class men. The Guardian described them as "Britain's first taste of mass-produced pop culture for the young. With more than a million sold each week, they contributed to the growing fear of crime in mid-Victorian Britain.

"Silver-Fork" novels were written by women for women and a popular subgenre of 19th century literature. These stories offered tantalizing glimpses into fashionable high society but were commonly written by the middle-class.

Story-within-a-story format as the romance story includes breakout chapters of Elizabeth's Penny Dreadful, called The Lady and the Highwayman, a romantic swashbuckling novel and Fletcher's Penny Dreadful, The Vampire's Tower, a darker, more crime-ridden adventure.

Fletcher is the rival writer of Penny Dreadfuls who came up as a street urchin and now uses the proceeds from his novels to fund charities to help the poor. He wants to find the writer of Elizabeth's Penny Dreadfuls to try to enlist aid to his cause.

Women authors in this time period were known to have written under male pseudonyms. The Bronte Sisters wrote under the male names of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell.

Though Penny Dreadfuls were known for their tales of crimes, exploits and supernatural beasts, the Highwayman heroes were popular for the story's romantic elements.

The story drew its inspiration from the real-life Victorian author Elizabeth Caroline Grey, a high-class lady, who, it was rumored, wrote both silver-fork novels and Penny Dreadfuls.

Features a story-within-a-story format as the romance story includes breakout chapters of Elizabeth's Penny Dreadful, called The Lady and the Highwayman, a romantic swashbuckling novel and Fletcher's Penny Dreadful, The Vampire's Tower, a darker, more crime-ridden adventure.

A historical romance set in London, England in the 1830s. This Victorian time period was well-known for its gothic romances and "Penny Dreadfuls"-cheap, sensational fiction read by young...


Advance Praise

“Sweet, lighthearted historical pits a pair of popular writers against Victorian London’s dark underbelly … Their slowly building, chaste, period-appropriate romance delivers congenial interludes. Chapters of their respective serials are interspersed throughout, providing a subtle view into the authors’ emotional lives. Dedicated readers of historical romance will enjoy many nods to the origins and attractions of their genre.” —Publishers Weekly


"Eden’s latest entry in the Victorian series (after Ashes on the Moor) is a joy to read, filled with adventure, suspense, two characters longing for love but protective of their secrets. Two original penny dreadfuls interspersed throughout make this story even more impressive."— Library Journal

“Sweet, lighthearted historical pits a pair of popular writers against Victorian London’s dark underbelly … Their slowly building, chaste, period-appropriate romance delivers congenial interludes...


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781629726052
PRICE $15.99 (USD)
PAGES 352

Average rating from 176 members


Featured Reviews

Romance, clean; period
This was a gorgeous read. I loved the setting, the two stories within the stories, the romance between Fletcher and Elizabeth. The children (urchins) and the society along with the stories behind it all (including Fletcher's back story). Varied and interesting characters, and the tension, the wishing and wanting on both Elizabeth and Fletcher's parts, made this a interesting and fun, unique read.
Elizabeth and Fletcher's story and their fall was lovely, they were both honest hearts, my favorite kind of romance, with some hurts and needs that made their story fun, unique, and so compelling. The setting and backstory of these characters is unique and made this for me as a reader. S.E. does a great job varying her settings, and I love she chose the penny dreadfuls, the school, and the street children for this one. Social justice, a lovely romance, and pulling together to overcome the obstacles and criminals.

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Sarah Eden has created a truly original novel with 'The Lady and the Highwayman'. Intriguing Victorian mystery interlaced with two penny dreadful novels. Elizabeth Black, well bred headmistress, of a girls school meets Fletcher Walker, street urchin, who has risen from the gutters to better himself. In Elizabeth, Eden creates a witty and courageous character, who falls for Fletcher, although he is not your typical well bred gentleman. Creative twist on a Victorian mystery romance. Well worth the read!

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Set in Victorian England, this story is really 3 in one. Both our main characters are writers who write penny dreadful stories-stories that are written in installments and sold for a penny so all can enjoy. While the Victorian period is not my normal reading choice, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. The way Eden is able to interweave the penny dreadfuls with the main story was well done.
I was amazed at how well the book came together. It was a mystery, romance and 3 compelling stories woven together by a master writer. The characters were diverse and unique, while real enough to pull on the reader's heartstrings. The back stories of both our main characters were well developed so their actions were believable. This is definitely a book I will recommend to my friends!

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An interesting premise for a Victorian novel.

What stood out to me the most was the setting and the characters. The setting is very realistic in the way it depicts the social issues, especially those of children.

Both Elizabeth and Fletcher try to do what they can to alleviate the conditions of children; she with the school for girls and he with saving street urchins. For Fletcher, it's more personal since he was one of those children. but he's moved past that and uses the money from the sales of the penny dreadful novels he writes to save those in bad conditions.

Elizabeth too is a writer and writes both high-class novels and penny dreadful stories under a pen name, and she too uses money from her sales to fund her school.

As ill-suited to each other Elizabeth and Fletcher may look, they are actually perfect for each other. I liked the way they developed a friendship first and then fell in love as they discovered more about the other.

I also liked the stories they write and it was fun to see my name in an historical.

I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley and this is my honest opinion.

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This was the most interesting book I've read in a long time, and that's saying a lot coming from someone who reads approximately 5 books a week.
I loved how in reading this book I was actually reading three stories- the main story and the two main characters penny dreadful stories. I enjoyed the characters acceptance of all the differences they all had ie.. Low class birth, being a woman, skin color,financial difficulties in the upper class etc.
There was excitement and danger, romance and acceptance. All in all a wonderful tale!

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This was a complimentary copy from netgalley - thank you

Loved this

I've not read anything by this author before but loved the novel within a novel device - took a little bit of time to get used to but stick with it - its worth it !

I certainly would recommend this as a book club book as it has lots of threads which would lend well to discuss. The threads are a bit dark but really enjoyed the elements

Great holiday read

I'll be re-reading this as well as there is a lot of detail here - great descriptions - that would lend well to going over again - great depth

Look forward to more from this author

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What a couple of charming characters! Independently, Fletcher and Elizabeth are a delight. As a team they're unbeatable! Fletcher is clever, scrappy, and aggressively compassionate. Elizabeth is intrepid in the inestimable interests within her heart. She's no slouch in the brain box department either. Together these two brilliantly find ways to save urchins off the streets of Victorian London and discover a few things about each other in the process.
I hope the story of these characters will continue in installments not unlike the Penny Dreadfuls that feature prominently in the book.

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The cover, description, and title intrigued me, but when I started it, I wasn't sure if I'd like it. After a chapter or two, my doubts were relieved, and I entered into the spirit of the book about two writers of penny dreadfuls in the form of a penny dreadful and had a great time!

Below are a couple of interesting sources on the topic of the Penny Dreadful.

In the 1830s, increasing literacy and improving technology saw a boom in cheap fiction for the working classes. ‘Penny bloods’ was the original name for the booklets that, in the 1860s, were renamed penny dreadfuls and told stories of adventure, initially of pirates and highwaymen, later concentrating on crime and detection. Issued weekly, each ‘number’, or episode, was eight (occasionally 16) pages, with a black-and-white illustration on the top half of the front page. Double columns of text filled the rest, breaking off at the bottom of the final page, even if it was the middle of a sentence.
(<a href="https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/penny-dreadfuls">source</a>)


Of note, many famous authors contributed to the serials, Bram Stoker and Wilkie Collins to name a couple, and it was in “The String of Pearls” that Sweeney Todd made his first appearance, 1846 to 1847, by J.M. Rymer and T.P. Prest. (<a href="http://www.katetattersall.com/kate-tattersall-adventures-an-e-penny-dreadful-style-series/">source</a>)

Elizabeth Black, prim and proper headmistress of a girls' school in 1830 London writes acceptable novels for the more staid Victorian audience, but secretly, she also writes romantic and adventurous penny dreadfuls. Since the writing she most enjoys could undermine her role as genteel and respectable headmistress, Elizabeth writes her penny dreadfuls under a pseudonym.

Fletcher Walker, former street urchin and one of the most popular writers of dreadfuls, finds that his role as the most successful author in the genre is threatened by a Mr. King, whose stories have recently become wildly fashionable. Fletcher is also a member of the Dreadful Penny Society, a group of men who write dreadfuls and are intent on saving street children and fighting for the rights of the poor. (I thought I knew the Dread Master, whose identity is kept secret, but maybe not.) At any rate, the society is concerned for social justice.

Written with many of the stylistic elements of the penny dreadfuls, including illustrations (which my ARC copy from NetGalley doesn't include), a little sweet romance, dangerous rescues of children, good and evil characters, and class distinctions of the period. There are also two short stories, one by each author that have connections to the larger narrative.

What fun! I ended up thoroughly enjoying Sarah M. Eden's The Lady and the Highwayman.

Read in May; blog review scheduled for August 12.

NetGalley/Shadow Mountain Publishing
Historical fiction/Romance. Sept. 3, 2019. Print length: 352 pages.

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NetGalley Review

It’s the 19th Century in London and Penny Dreadfuls are sweeping the nation. Tales of adventure, mystery, and romance, Penny Dreadfuls have amassed quite an audience. Anyone of any class can lose themselves in these tales for a short while. A former street urchin, Fletcher Walker, owns his entire life to these stories. Now, Fletcher is one of the most successfully Penny Dreadful writers. Through his literary success, Fletcher provides shelter and comfort to poor children on the streets. But a new up and coming Penny Dreadful writer, Mr. King seems to hold most of Fletcher’s attention these days.

Elizabeth Black has a secret. She writes Penny Dreadfuls under the pen name of Mr. King. As Headmistress of Thurloe Collegiate School, Elizabeth’s upper-class lifestyle is anything but dreadful. But when Fletcher requests her help in search of the elusive Mr. King, things get a little complicated.

I was pleasantly surprised that there isn’t one but two Penny Dreadfuls throughout this book. Not only do they add to the story, but they make you feel as if you are actually in 19th Century London. Eden’s attention to detail and carefully crafted sentences also solidifies the setting. I really enjoyed Fletcher’s and Elizabeth’s relationship, especially in its early stages. However, it feels a little convenient and perfect in some areas. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I loved the aspect of writers chasing writers. Plus, I could never turn down a historical fiction set in London.

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In 19th Century London, Penny Dreadfuls were "low-literature serials" featuring captivating stories of adventure, damsels in distress, criminals and monsters. For a "penny", laborers, tradesmen and children could purchase the newest weekly installment. Fletcher Walker grew up living the hardscrabble life of a street urchin. Only through a stroke of luck was he able to escape the desperate life he was leading where a street urchin could be beaten for walking slower than his master. Fletcher was now a top selling writer of Penny Dreadfuls. He was the largest financial contributor to the Hoggs School, the only school London street children could attend. He crusaded to help feed poor families, rescue girls from houses of ill-repute, and stop masters from abusing their working children. The rise of the mysterious Mr. King, a new writer of Penny Dreadfuls "...was, slowly, but surely, claiming an ever-larger slice of the penny dreadful pie".

Elizabeth Black was Headmistress of Thurloe Collegiate School. Elizabeth was "the picture of respectability". She had written several "silver-fork" novels, novels for and about the upper class. Her well-ordered life included attending silver fork or political salons that helped generate school funding from the "elevated class"... but...Elizabeth had a secret! She wrote Penny Dreadfuls under the pen name of Mr. King. Her most profitable works included "Excesses of emotion. Dastardly villains. Daring escapes. Sword fights. They were exaggerations of the most delicious sort, exciting the senses, palpitating the heart, offering an escape from the doldrums of life"...but..."A lady in her position could be respected or she could be adventurous. What she could not be was both."

Fletcher Walker belonged to the Dreadful Penny Society, a clandestine society of Penny Dreadful writers who met in an undisclosed location."Being made known would keep them from helping and rescuing and doing the good that meant so much to them." The elusive Mr. King was upsetting the applecart. Who was he? Fletcher studies King's stories. "He don't write the same as the rest of us. He's got class, more sophistication." Fletcher enlists the help of Elizabeth Black, a silver fork novelist who hob-nobs with the upper crust of society.

"The Lady and the Highwayman" by Sarah M. Eden was a delightful historical romance. Interspersed within the novel are two Penny Dreadfuls. Such fun! I wonder if perhaps this tome should be marketed to the teen/YA audience.

Thank you Shadow Mountain Publishing and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "The Lady and the Highwayman".

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This book is set in Victorian London and the ‘Penny Dreadfuls’ are incredibly popular, cheap stories of adventure and romance. These stories play a huge part in this book, which is really sort of three stories in one.
The two main characters both write these stories but in very different ways. Fletcher is a street urchin turned successful writer who uses his success to shelter children still on the streets. His counterpart, the ‘Lady’ is Elizabeth Black the Headmistress of a school who also leads a secret life writing these Penny Dreadfuls. She writes under the name Mr King, a man Fletcher asks her to find,
Which is of course where things get complicated,
The characters here are well drawn and believable but the real star is, in my opinion, the PennyDreadfuls themselves of which there are 2 that intertwine with the main story. They bring Victorian London to life in a quite remarkable way and make you feel a shame if you were there. The detail included is quite astounding.
If I have one complaint it would be that the romance element is a little to neat for my taste, and although clean it lacked depth of feeling.
All in all I enjoyed this though and would be interested in reading any sequel.

I was given an ARC by NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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This book was a lot of fun! It has 2 points of view and both characters are authors, so you get their story they are writing 1 chapter at a time spread throughout the book. This was done very well. There is great conflict and resolution of that conflict. I also really like the clean romance between the main characters. Very well done Sarah Eden!

*I tried to review on Amazon but it wont let me!

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This book was so different from others by Sarah M. Eden, but still so much fun to read! Fletcher and Elizabeth are wonderful characters, the story line is fun, and the romance is sweet. The added stories each character is writing in the background are just a fun bonus. All in all, another great book by Ms. Eden. Keep them coming!

**I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.**

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If you’re looking for a Victorian romance but tired of trying to remember if an Earl outranks a Marchioness, this is the story you’re looking for. Focusing on the lives of the poor and middle class, this story leads you through prats of Victorian London rarely glimpsed in other period romances.

Fletcher Walker is a leading member of the Dread Penny Society, a philanthropic club made up of the authors of penny dreadful stories. Elizabeth Black runs a girl’s school, and publishes “silver fork” stories, novels about household life which are considered appropriate for ladies. Their paths cross while Fletcher is investigating a mysterious Mr. King, who has recently taken the penny dreadful market by storm. Little does he know, Mr. King is a nom de plume that Elizabeth is using to publish her more adventurous, less socially acceptable works.

Though the romantic plot line provides little tension (the characters get along marvelously, and very little gets in the way of that), the side plot lines pick up the slack, and really propel the story. Just as in any good penny dreadful, there are kidnappings, fisticuffs, attempted arson, and unnecessarily secretive secret societies (and puns. So, so many puns).

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick, lighthearted read that doesn’t focus on the usual social set of period romance. Quite enjoyable.

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This book was different from other of Eden's books. The main story, about Elizabeth and Fletcher, is woven in with serial stories that each of them writes. At times I did wish the serial stories weren't there, but at other times I was as entertained by them as I was by the main story being told.

The storyline was interesting, not at all what I was expecting. Eden often historical issues and this book is no different. You can tell she has done her research, finds an interesting tidbit of history, and fashions a story around that event or issue. In this case she focuses a the strictures of class structure in 19th century England and the difficulty people (particulary children) had in breaking free of those classes.

This was not my favorite of Eden's books but it was still an entertaining read. If you enjoy her other stories you will enjoy this one!

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Miss Elizabeth Black is headmistress at a girls' school in London and a well-known writer of silver-fork novels. She has a secret though, she also an extremely popular novel of Penny Dreadfuls under the nom de plum of Mr. King. The stories she produces under her nom de plum are her escspe from her dull day-to-day life and are a secret which, if discovered, will destroy her standing among the upper-class and her position as headmistress.

At a small gathering she makes the acquaintance of Fletcher Walker, another popular Dread Penny author and a member of the ellusive Dread Penny Society. Growing up as a helpless urchin himself and now in good financial standing and health, he fights for the protection and well-being of all the current street urchins of London. But fellow author Mr. King is undermining his sales and therefore his funds for helping the unfortunate children of London.

Both of them are intruiged by the other and find themselves repeatedly in one another's company and each comes progressively closer to unearthing the other's secret.

This is a very original book, as three stories are being told simultaneously: the story following our two main characters and both of their current Penny Dreadfuls. The two Penny Dreadful were  unique to each other. One focused on the more paranormal and daring bravery, the other on romance and perserverence.

I was nervous going into this book because I didn't know how the author would pull it off without it being confusing or clunky. I was  a bit slow to start, but picked up fairly quickly. The three stories worked together seemlessly and give a clear picture of the characters and their motivations. I enjoyed learning about Elizabeth and Fletcher.

I will add though that I thought it was fairly obvious that Elizabeth was Mr. King and the fact that Fletcher wasn't able to pick up on it was quite disappointing since he is so clever. But I enjoyed her unveiling, it had just the right amount of flair.

I have read a few books from Sarah M. Eden before that were part of series. . This book was wholly unique from what I had read from her before but just as enjoyable.

If your looking for a different take on a Victorian romance, I recommend this book! It is a clean romance.

I would like to thank Shadow Mountain Publishing and NetGalley for giving me the chance to read an ARC of this book. This is my honest review.

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Sarah Eden does it again with a book that will delight and entrance readers. Romance, mystery, adventure, monsters...this book has it all. Eden also includes a realistic look at education, the plight of children who live on the street (also known as urchins) and how women are viewed by many men.
Set in 19th century London, this title features Elizabeth Black and Fletcher Walker. Both are authors but of very different types of stories. Elizabeth writes respectable 'silver-fork' novels that focus on the upper-class, while Fletcher writes 'penny-dreadfuls' that appeal more to the lower classes with their low cost and the adventure and mystery they contain. They both have a desire to help those less fortunate than them, and while they have different ways of achieving their goal, they are both successful in their efforts. Elizabeth is the headmistress of a girls school for middle-class families while Fletcher is part of a secret group that rescues urchins from terrible situations. Their paths cross frequently as they go about their business and try to help those around them. They work together to solve a mystery and discover that they make a pretty good team.
I loved this book, it will definitely be one that I recommend and read again and again!

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From the first page this book shattered all my preconceived notions of Sarah Eden’s writing. If I hadn’t been fully aware that the book I was reading was a Sarah Eden book, I never would have guessed it.

The writing and the plot were so very different from the Sarah Eden I was used to, and yet wholly delightful. The story was incredibly quirky and a little on the dramatic side, both of which fit the whole perfectly.  I was entirely entertained and captivated.

The two stories within the story pulled me out a little the first time or two, but the more I was pulled into the characters, the more I loved the added character development they provided.

This is why I love Sarah Eden’s writing, it continually surprises and enchants me. Every, single, time.

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What's not to love? Secret identities, adventuring, saving children, smoldering looks, and two "penny dreadful" short stories to boot! In fact, I really liked the way our author showed us the types of stories that were popular and how his story and her story were very different writing styles. There are still a couple of mysteries to solve, so I imagine there will be a follow up novel or two. It is fast paced and just the right amount of dramatic (it IS about penny dreadful writers after all). It isn't too steamy, so it would also be something to recommend to teens or readers who like their romance without the "smut".

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The Lady and the Highwayman is a really fun and dare I say it, fresh take on a historical romance. The main characters attraction to each other is based on a mutual respect for the other work, it is not just a physical attraction. It is also nice to see a HR that doesn't rely upon the well trodden "landed-gentry MC" trope. Our main characters both work for a living! The dialogue is well written and the chemistry between the characters and the way their relationship develops feels very natural. The social justice themes are also well written and feel authentic. If you are looking for something that is just a bit different than the usual Victorian romance fare, give this a go. I will be reading more by this author for sure.

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This was a really pleasant surprise! I loved this book! It was so cute! A historical romance set in Victorica's England, with shades of Dickensian heroes and villains! I can't wait for more from this author!

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This is an excellent addition to the "Proper Romance" group of books. I have yet to be disappointed in seeing that phrase on the cover of books.
It has daring, adventure, mystery, and Proper Romance. I can read it in one sitting.

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Elizabeth's passion is for writing penny dreadfuls. However, as she is a headmistress to a girl's school in 1865 London, she has to be considered respectful by only writing manner books or else her funding is pulled. So she writes penny dreadfuls under the name Mr. King. Her books are a success and other writers of the genre want to meet Mr. King as they've been using their money to help orphan boys. This leads her to meet Fletcher, a man she feels herself drawn to.

The characters are compelling for having their own, good reasons for the secrecy. The reasons are so good that once discovered they only understand. I love when the main couple aren't stupid and come together to solve problems. And Elizabeth is brave when she helps Fletcher save street boys from their cruel masters.

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The Lady and the Highwayman is really three adventures in one. The main characters are themselves authors (of penny dreadfuls -- popular, serialized stories sold for a penny) and their stories are sampled along the main plot. It provides interesting context, although, at first it is confusing to have so many characters introduced and can be jarring as the story goes along as the reader jumps from narrative to narrative. The romance is sweet and builds slowly and from a friendship. The adventure and secret society storyline requires a bit of suspension of belief, but overall The Lady and the Highwayman is an adventure story with a heart.

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I loved the difference in classes between the two main protagonists, but how their mutual love of penny dreadfuls solidifies their bond as well as their commitment to the protection and education of the poorer classes. Each protagonist is also an author of penny dreadfuls, and it was a treat to read two different penny dreadfuls that weaved themselves into the main story. A realistic romance that focuses heavily on historical fiction where the author did their research. I'm excited to read more from Sarah Eden.

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Do you like secret societies and hidden identities? Stories within stories? Love triangles with two people? Characters who want to make the world a better place? Falling in love unexpectedly? Then "The Lady and the Highwayman" is for you!

Fletcher Walker was born in the gutters, but raised himself up through education and is now a bestselling Penny Dreadful author who writes "Hardy Boys" style paranormal mysteries featuring two orphan boys. In addition, he is a prominent member of the Dread Penny Society, a group of Penny Dreadful authors who work to provide better education and care for the urchins of London. However, he is currently vexed by the mysterious unknown identity of Mr. King, who is currently out-selling his own works. Could Mr. King be a valuable asset for the Dread Penny Society? And why so secretive?

Elizabeth Black is a well-known Silver Fork novelist, headmistress of a school for middle-class girls.... and the illusive Mr. King, author of the Penny Dreadfuls such as "The Lady and the Highwayman". While writing Penny Dreadfuls supplements her own income and the school's, no one can ever know her secret. For if it was to be known that she wrote "low-brow" literature, her reputation--and, more importantly, that of her school's--would be put into question. So when Mr. Walker begins asking questions about Mr. King's identity, she knows she must do everything to throw him off course.

However, Fletcher and Elizabeth soon find themselves involved in a mystery, and have to protect all that is dear to them. And, perhaps, fall in love along the way.

A fantastic work of historical fiction, with an evident amount of research done by the author, "The Lady and the Highwayman" is a wonderful addition to the "Proper Romance" imprint, that will leave readers alternatively laughing, swooning, or in suspense. And, perhaps most impressive, contains not one but three stories within, as readers also get to enjoy the Penny Dreadfuls written by Fletcher Walker and the illusive Mr. King. (And see just how much their stories reflect their real lives.)

My only complaint is that there are two unresolved plot points, minor as they may be, but perhaps a future sequel novel will tie those up into dainty bows. (And return us to this wonderful slice of Victorian London.)

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A fun read. Great characters, fun story. A enjoyed the Penny Dreadful novels that were interspersed with the story.

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Sarah M Eden is always a hit, I loved the way this book was put together, the different points of views and stories. Great read!

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Eden's voice is one of the freshest in inspirational regencies!! Never failing to provide the humour, immersive setting and banter I love ... as well as her trademark intelligent heroines and dashing heroes. She is an auto-buy for me!! A perfect homage to tropes of yore!

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A great Covid read. Very immersive and I felt like I was there… which I heavily enjoyed! I also think the cover is GORGEOUS.

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This series of five books is complete. I had read #4 not long ago, but I’m so glad I took the chance to binge read the whole series in a week when I received the final ARC. You can read them as individual books, but the stories are so tightly interwoven that you really should get the whole five-story plot arc together.

And, while billed as “proper romance”, the romance is not, in my mind, the focus of the stories. There are mysteries to solve—each of the first four books lead us into the final showdown.

One common theme of this series is that everyone has a past that has made them who they are. For the most part, difficult pasts have led the focus characters to fight for right and to help the downtrodden, in a society that is still very much run by class.

We begin with a schoolmistress and a former street urchin turned author of “penny dreadfuls”, the lower-class literature that thrilled and entertained. But he’s also a member of a secret society of penny dreadful authors who fight crime (while sometimes committing a few crimes of their own in pursuit of the greater good).

We move on to a music teacher and a gentleman who also writes penny dreadfuls. Then to a bookseller/Russian émigré and an Irishman—again, a writer. And a doctor/writer and his secret wife, who comes from a crime family.

We end with the oddest pairing of all—a woman who committed murder and a police constable.

The mysteries are intriguing. As we learn more and more of the criminal mastermind, the fearsome Tempest, we also learn more of what makes our characters tick. The entire series plays out in a little over a year, and it is nice to be able to follow the aftermath of the prior books as each book moves along. Unlike some series romance, prior characters still play a part beyond name-dropping.

I especially looked forward to the final volume, as I wanted so much to know the why and the how of the formation of the Dread Penny Society. While this was explained, I felt like there could have been more. Likewise with the why of the Tempest’s quest for revenge, and why one particular traitor sold out the Dreadfuls.

I think the elements of intrigue were well-balanced with the romances. These were romances that were allowed to develop, based on admiration and companionship. Each had a reason why it might be impractical, but, despite danger and turmoil, love won the day.

There were many well-developed secondary characters in addition to the ten romantic leads. The street urchins, others of the Dreadfuls, family members—all added to the depth of worldbuilding.

As with other books published by Shadow Mountain, there is no cursing and the narration of the romantic interludes doesn’t progress beyond kissing.

One more note: Each of these books, in addition to the main narrative, contains two “penny dreadful” stories that parallel the main story. So Eden was really writing three stories every time!

Possible Objectionable Material:

Foul play, including thievery and murder, fighting, perilous situations, dishonesty, poverty.

Who Might Like These Books:

Fans of clean romance, Victorian London, mystery and adventure.

These books are also reviewed at https://biblioquacious.blogspot.com/2023/04/a-penny-dreadful-for-your-thoughts.html

Thank you to Shadow Mountain Publishing and NetGalley for providing ARCs of these books in exchange for my honest opinion.

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An enjoyable read. I was given The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden in exchange for an honest review by NetGalley.

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