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.
“For the poor and infirm, the hopeless and voiceless, we do not relent. We do not forget. We are the Dread Penny Society.”
I adored this book. I forgot just how much I enjoy Sarah Eden's books. The historical details are always so on point, the characters are realistic and easy to root for, and the romance sweet and sigh-worthy.
I loved that in addition to the main story, The Lady and the Highwayman also included two Penny Dreadfuls written by the main characters Fletcher and Elizabeth. I loved that whole concept and enjoyed both of these additions immensely. Fletcher's The Vampire's Tower was ominous and intriguing, and Elizabeth's The Lady and the Highwayman was exciting, mysterious, and suspenseful.
Fletcher was my absolute favorite part of this story. He's such a good guy. Yeah, he's a little rough around the edges, but he was so likable and had a heart of gold. He had a rough childhood living on the streets, so now that he's found some success with his Penny Dreadfuls, he's made it his mission to save street kids from dangerous situations like the ones he faced growing up.
If you're a fan of historical romance, especially the Victorian era, I highly recommend The Lady and the Highwayman. I had a great time reading it and am looking forward to the next one in the series.