Sarah M. Eden
The Lady and the Highwaymanby: Sarah M. Eden
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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Publish Date: 2019
Page Count: 352