Book Review: The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden

Elizabeth Black is the headmistress of a girls’ school in 1860s 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.

Book Info

Title: The Lady and the Highwayman
Series: Proper Romance Victorian #1
Author: Sarah M. Eden
Narrator: Justine Eyre
Published: 2019
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: Audio
Length: 8 hours 11 minutes
Source: Audible Plus
Date Finished: October 21, 2020
Grade: A-

Review

This was so fun!! And it’s 3 stories in 1! I loved falling into this story and all the excitement and adventure that came with it. Fletcher and Elizabeth are such a good team, as well as a loving couple. The Dread Penny Society is unexpectedly but satisfyingly diverse. The only thing that made me stop listening to this was the fact that I had to sleep…and work. You know, the usual boring adult stuff.

The only things that really take away from my rating were the two extra stories by Elizabeth and Fletcher, as well as their romance. Although I greatly enjoyed them, I thought the timelines of the penny dreadfuls didn’t quite match up with the main story, even though they were supposed to in a way. I also thought their relationship never seemed impossible enough, even though they both think it is. This may be a side effect of reading romance for so long since I always knew they’d end up together, but I felt that there could have been an extra force working against them. Oh, and I thought Fletcher was going to figure out who Mr. King was so many times, but he could never do it, even though it was so obvious!

We don’t find out in this book who the head of the Dread Penny Society is, but in my heart of hearts I want it to be Charles Dickens because he seems perfect for it. I have the ARC of the next book, so maybe I’ll get to find out who this mysterious person is in that one, though.

I hadn’t intended to listen to this one. I had a copy checked out from the library and everything, but I felt like cross stitching. So I found out that I had access to the audiobook through Audible Plus and decided to give it a listen while I stitched. Needless to say, I got a good amount of stitching done while listening to this because I just didn’t want to stop. Justine Eyre is always so good, so I was glad to see that she narrated this one, as well.

Aside from some very minor qualms, I’m looking forward to continuing this series very soon!

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