The Lady and the Highwayman
In this charming romance, Miss Elizabeth Black writes “silver-fork” novels in 1830s London. The extra income helps her keep a middle-class girls’ school afloat—almost. To help fill the coffers, Elizabeth uses a pseudonym, Charles King, to write Penny Dreadfuls, a disreputable genre that would scandalize her clientele, despite its popularity. In fact, Elizabeth has displaced the previous king of Penny Dreadfuls, Mr. Fletcher Walker. Fletcher Walker is not taking dethronement well, as he uses his income to fuel the work of a secret society of Penny Dreadful authors. A former street urchin himself, Fletcher works to rescue children from abusive work conditions as well as protect a “ragged” school, where street children can go to learn.
Using the fictional authors’ works as a clever conceit, we get to read the latest offerings of Mr. King and Mr. Walker, as well as the main narrative. The heat level stays quite proper, with some scenes of intense hand-holding. This is a relaxing read, but with enough danger to keep the plot rolling. While fisticuffs occur and abusive situations are discussed, clever banter is what wins the day more often than not. I highly recommend this read with a hot cup of tea.