Author: Sarah M. Eden
Genres: Historical Romance
Format: eBook • Pages: 384
Published: September 2, 2019
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
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.
Three Stories in One!
I loved this book! First off, Sarah M. Eden is a great writer. She has lovable and relatable characters, strong plots, and great settings. So any story of hers is going to be good.
But this one is a romance where both characters are Penny Dreadful writers—and we get to read both of their stories as well! Penny Dreadful stories began in the mid-1800s, were often serialized, usually shorter stories (what we would call novellas) and focused on action, adventure, and crime. They are sometimes considered to be the beginnings of genre fiction. Both of the stories included in this romance—serialized between the chapters about the two main characters—were interesting, entertaining, and I looked forward to every new chapter.
What did I think?
In addition to the loving the Penny Dreadful stories (one about a highway man and a monster in the woods; the other about disappearing street children and the monster taking them), the main romance was clever and fun to read.
Elizabeth Black runs a school, writes “respectable” novels, and also writes Penny Dreadfuls under a pseudonym. She meets up with Fletcher Walker, who is openly a Penny Dreadful writer and part of a secret group that helps street children. They come to know each other as they help to rescue these children.
I loved their personalities, their humor, their kindness—and how they came to respect each other before falling in love. I loved the adventure involved in rescuing children and overcoming the villains. And I especially loved the end, which I can’t even hint at because it would give away too much. But it’s awesome!!
If you like historical romantic suspense, this is top-drawer! I highly recommend it to readers 14 and older. I give it a full 5 STARS.