Miss Elizabeth Black runs a proper school for middle class Victorian girls and writes proper novels approved by the proper sort in society. But what nobody knows is that she also moonlights as a penny dreadful author under the pseudonym Mr. King, writing breathtakingly melodramtic serials full of adventure and romance.
Fletcher Walker used to be the king of the penny dreadful columns until his popularity as a serial writer was surpassed by the mysterious Mr. King. Determined to discover the identity of this rival, Fletcher and his fellow members of the Dread Penny Society, scour the streets of London, hoping to invite the elusive Mr. King to donate his gains to their humanitarian club.
Using the proceeds from their writings, the Dread Penny Society attempts to save abused children from a life on the streets. When Fletcher discovers that Miss Elizabeth Black has the same humanitarian interests, he enlists her to help him discover the identity of Mr. King. But what they both discover is an attraction that crosses the lines of class and that threatens the respectability Elizabeth needs to maintain as head of girls school.
This novel was a delightfully farfetched look at Victorian society. The story is interwoven with sections of both Fletcher’s and Elizabeth’s latest penny dreadfuls, tales that parallel the main plot exceedingly well. Besides all their work uncovering (and concealing) the mystery of Mr. King’s identity, Fletcher and Elizabeth must thwart kidnappers, stop arsonists, and care for the most vulnerable in Victorian society. Recommended for those who enjoy a clean adventure and old-fashioned romance.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.