THE MERCHANT AND THE ROGUE
SERIES: The Dread Penny Society #3
GENRE: Historical / Victorian Romance (Clean & Wholesome)
PUBLISHER: Shadow Mountain
RELEASE DATE: August 17, 2021
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 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.
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“Heroes come in a lot of forms, Brogan. Be the one you are best suited to being.”
This was such a fun read from beginning to end. Danger. Adventure. Intrigue. Mystery. Romance. The Merchant and the Rogue by Sarah M. Eden delivers each of these elements, along with dashes of grin-inducing humor, snippets of penny dreadfuls (interspersed with the ‘real’ story, though the parallels between them were not lost on this reader), snappy dialogue, and fantastic characters.
Brogan and Vera have neither one had the easiest lives, making them a bit more rough around the edges than your typical romance protagonists. A stylistic choice, I might add, that I loved. Both characters intrigued me right away, and I quickly fell in love with each of them. Between Brogan’s Irish brogue and Vera’s South London vernacular (not to mention some American & Russian accents also in play), there is lots of great dialogue to sink into and smile at. In fact, from the first line – “If laughter truly were the best medicine, Brogan Donnelly would have been the healthiest Irishman in all of England.” – I was hooked on the author’s writing voice and remained fully captivated by the story that unfolded from there. I’ve read other books by this author and enjoyed them readily enough, but this one stands out above the rest. And while I haven’t read the first two books in this series, the author catches readers up in such a way as to keep us from feeling lost & without an info dump in sight. (I will be reading these first two novels post haste, I can assure you.)
Brogan Donnelly might be the one who is a part of a secret group of ‘vigilante, do-good authors’ of penny dreadfuls, but Vera Sorokina is not someone to overlook. Neither is Brogan’s sister Moirin, whom I suspect is part of some intrigue of her own. Both ladies exhibited both great compassion and great courage, and I loved the balance of strength and vulnerability that Eden gave not only them but Brogan as well.
Bottom Line: Smart writing, witty conversation, and several people who are more than what they seem add layers and heart to this engrossing tale, tying up just enough loose ends to satisfy readers but also insuring they will be eagerly waiting word of book 4. A great way to spend your weekend!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4.5 stars / loved it!
KissingBook Level: 3 / will forget to breathe on occasion
Please help Sarah M. Eden get her latest novel, THE MERCHANT AND THE ROGUE, to hit the New York Times best-seller list by purchasing a copy between August 15-22, 2021.
Everyone who submits a copy of their receipt and fills out the form during the week of August 15-22 will receive The Merchant and the Rogue – Swag Bundle. Supplies are limited, so act today. Please visit the Swag Bundle webpage for details.
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.
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.
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