The Highwayman’s Daughter

Written by Henriette Gyland
Review by Lynn Guest

1768. Jack Blythe, heir to an earldom, and his wastrel cousin, Rupert, are returning from London when their carriage is held up on Hounslow Heath. They realise that this efficient young highwayman is, in fact, a woman in man’s dress. The cousins enter into a wager: a hundred guineas to the one who captures the beautiful outlaw, an outlaw to whom Jack is strongly attracted. Cora, the bandit, is the daughter of a former “gentleman of the road”, now very poor and in ill health. She steals for money to buy his medicine but lives in fear she will be caught and hanged and her father will die without her help.

The plot is anything but predictable. Twists and turns involving past adulteries, exchanged infants, and rivalry between cousins keeps the action moving at a fast pace. The 18th-century atmosphere is colourful, from the horror of Newgate Prison to bucolic country life in Hounslow. The novel is packed with well-drawn characters: rich and poor, thief and aristocrat. Cora and Jack are appealing ,and Rupert is a swine. As this is a Choc Lit book, romance wins in the end.