Hi y’all! Happy Birthday to my sister today! Hope you have a great birthday 🙂
I am thrilled to participate in the Blog Tour for The Merchant and the Rogue by Sarah M. Eden. This is the third book in Sarah’s Dread Penny Society series. And while this was the first book I’ve read in the series, I found it read quite easily as a stand alone novel. Although, I am rather intrigued by the Dread Penny Society now and would love to read more of the books!
I was immediately drawn to this novel because of it’s Victorian London setting and the intriguing Dread Penny Society. I loved both these elements in this story!
Thanks to the author and Shadow Mountain for a complimentary copy of the novel. All opinions are my own.
“London, 1865. 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 freedom and an income, and while she is grateful for the stability it brings to her life, 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. But with no one to share his life with, 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 Vera’s print shop is aboveboard. When a growing criminal enterprise 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.”
The ways that Eden mixes stories and settings are unique and captivating. I loved the format of the book with the excerpts from “real” Penny Dreadfuls by some of the characters in the book. We get invested in not just one story but three. And I found myself looking for similarities between them all. I have read a lot of books set in historical London. But this one felt different. It focuses so much on the difficulties of the poor people in London and the evil people that take advantage of that poverty. I know that Charles Dickens was a champion of the poor and often wrote about their difficulties and the unfairness of their situations. Somehow this felt different to me. To actually read about criminals blackmailing honest shop keepers and the plights of the people Brogan and his sister help was very intense and interesting. I appreciated the depth of the story and the serious issues woven into this love story. Yet at the end of the novel, I didn’t feel like things were all sorted out. In fact, it felt the opposite with criminals on the loose and physical recoveries just beginning. People hiding and thieving and sorting out a bigger threat. It very much feels like part of a larger story in the series.
Vera and Brogan were surprising protagonists, and I enjoyed their strengths and determination. Vera is immediately likable for his bookish tastes and kindness to street urchins. I appreciated her loyalty to her father and her understanding of how to fight for what you believe in. Brogan was also an endearing character. He is always thinking of himself as a follower rather than a leader. But his genuine kindness to those less fortunate and his fierce loyalty to his sister show his true character. I love when his sister tells him to be the kind of leader he was meant to be. He spends a lot of time thinking he should be like others when his strengths come in his own unique traits. That was frustrating sometimes. But I enjoyed how Vera and Brogan bond over their shared refugee state and their longings for homes lost to them. They complement each other so beautifully.
Their love story is a slow burning and comforting romance. It begins with a genuine friendship that turns into something more. It takes some time to develop but once they start to fall in love, they fall fast. I loved how protective Brogan is of her and how she is the only person he will leave his sister to help. I loved their shared smiles across the store. And the intimate moments at his flat. I loved how they are often arm in arm as they walk from place to place. And how they tell each other memories, fears, and hopes that they tell no one else. I think my favorite moment is when Brogan finally understands what Vera means to him. And he leaves everything to save her. Despite everything that would keep them apart, Brogan and Vera find a way to be together. A beautiful love story!
I enjoyed this Victorian Era novel about the Dread Penny Society. While the details were interesting, it did take me over half the book to really get invested in the story. Perhaps it was the slow story line or the jumping from story to story. But I just couldn’t get into it for a while. That said, once I was invested in the story, I devoured the last part of the book. What an action packed and intense ending!
Overall, I liked this book enough to read the others in the series. It would be fun to learn more about some characters only briefly playing a role in this one. I love the premise of this series and especially the Victorian setting.
Do you have any favorite time periods for book settings?
Any Penny Dreadful fans out there? Or Victorian London fans?
Sarah M. Eden is the author of critically acclaimed and award-winning Proper Romance series novels including The Lady and the Highwayman and Ashes on the Moor. Combining her passion for history and an affinity for love stories, Sarah crafts smart, witty characters and heartfelt romances. She happily spends hours perusing the reference shelves of her local library and dreams of one day traveling to all the places she reads about.
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Join the virtual book tour of The Merchant and the Rogue, Sarah M. Eden’s highly acclaimed historical romance, August 16-29, 2021. Thirty-five popular on-line influencers specializing in historical romance, mystery/suspense, and inspirational fiction will join in the celebration of its release with a spotlights, exclusive excerpts, and reviews of this new Victorian-era novel set in London, England.