Review: The Lady and the Highwayman (The Dread Penny Society #1)

Title: The Lady and the Highwayman (The Dread Penny Society #1)
Author: Sarah M. Eden
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Elizabeth Black is the headmistress of a girls’ school and 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 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–and his profits. 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 rights of the less-fortunate.

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. 

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 and the author of books for upper class women. She also secretly writes penny dreadful novels under the pen name Mr. King. Fletcher Walker is also an author of penny dreadfuls, and he is a member of the Dreadful Penny Society, which is a group who writes the novels and helps less-fortunate children. Mr. King has surpassed Fletcher as the top writer, but Fletcher doesn’t know Mr. King’s identity. When Fletcher discovers that Elizabeth knows Mr. King, he enlists her help to figure out who he is. At the same time, they both help each other with saving children from the adults who want to hurt them.

Elizabeth and Fletcher appeared to be opposites but they had a lot in common. They were both successful writers of penny dreadfuls, even though Elizabeth’s identity was a secret. They also both wanted to help children in need. It was disturbing to see how children were treated and overworked, and there weren’t any laws to help save them or punish the people who endangered them. Though Elizabeth and Fletcher came from different backgrounds, they had the same values.

The penny dreadful serials that Elizabeth and Fletcher wrote appeared between the chapters in this story. They each had distinctive voices apart from the main narrative. Their stories mirrored what was happening in their real lives, except without the supernatural aspects. I liked seeing how the authors incorporated parts of their lives into their work.

This was a fun Victorian story!

What to read next:

The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M. Eden

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore

Other books in the series:

  • The Gentleman and the Thief

Have you read The Lady and the Highwayman? What did you think of it?

Author: jilljemmett

Jill lives in Toronto, Canada. She has studied English, Creative Writing, and Publishing. Jill is the creator and content producer of Jill’s Book Blog, where she has published a blog post every day for the last four years, including 5-7 book reviews a week. She can usually be found with her nose in a book.

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