THE MERCHANT AND THE ROGUE , by Sarah M. Eden, Shadow Mountain, Aug. 17, 2021, Paperback, $15.99 (Young Adult/ New Adult/ Adult Fiction)
Return to the world of Penny Dreadfuls in Sarah M. Eden’s latest Dread Penny Society book, The Merchant and the Rogue.
Vera Sorokina loves reading the Penny Dreadfuls and immersing herself in tales of adventure, mystery, and romance. Her own days are filled with the often-mundane work of running the book and print shop she owns with her father. The shop offers her the freedom and income to employ and protect the poverty-stricken Londoners she’s come to care about, and it gives her father something to do other than long for their hometown of St. Petersburg. She is grateful for the stability in their lives, but she often feels lonely.
Brogan Donnelly was born and raised in Ireland, but has lived in London for several years, where he’s built a career as a Penny Dreadful writer. He has dedicated himself to the plight of the poor with the help of his sister. His membership in the secretive Dread Penny Society allows him to feel he isn’t entirely wasting his life, yet he feels dissatisfied. With no one to share his life with but his sister, he fears London will never truly feel like home.
Brogan and Vera’s paths cross, and the attraction is both immediate and ill-advised. Vera knows from past experience that writers are never to be trusted, and Brogan has reason to suspect not everything at her print shop is aboveboard. When the growing criminal enterprise run by the elusive and violent Mastiff begins targeting their area of London, Brogan and Vera must work together to protect the community they’ve both grown to love. But that means they’ll need to learn to trust each other with dangerous secrets that have followed both of them from their home countries. —Synopsis provided by Shadow Mountain
The Merchant and the Rogue is the third book in Eden’s Victorian romance series. While all three books — including The Lady and the Highwayman and The Gentleman and the Thief — stand alone, I prefer reading them as a grouping (though it is more of a personal preference than a necessity). Eden has created a setting that is delightful whether you are new or returning.
Like the previous novels in this series, The Merchant and the Rogue features a romantic pairing between two people with seemingly different interests and backgrounds. As the book progresses, you realize the two are more alike than previously thought.
As with all the books in Shadow Mountain’s Proper Romance line, the ending is fairly predictable. But that’s not why readers clamor for these books: They’re there for the ride. And like the other books in the Dread Penny Society series, the journey is lots of fun.
Eden’s writing both fits the time period and feels modernly comfortable. Her characters are well-developed and multifaceted. She combines mystery, adventure, and romance into a cohesive tale that parents won’t mind handing off to their older teens.
*Shadow Mountain is offering a special launch bundle for readers who purchases The Merchant and the Rogue from Aug. 15-20. Submit your receipt here: https://www.shadowmountain.
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