The Merchant and the Rogue by Sarah M. Eden
ISBN: 9781629728513 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781629739991 (ebook)
ASIN: B098TVLLM7 (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B0921TS4TF (Audible audiobook)
Series: Book 3 in the Dread Penny Society
Release Date: August 17, 2021
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Genre: Fiction | Historical Romance | Historical Mystery/Suspense | Inspirational Fiction
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.
Read an excerpt:
Vera’s customers were quick to realize Ganor O’Donnell knew everything about the penny dreadfuls. He was in the shop on his second day of working there, having spent the morning unpacking the latest arrivals and helping get the displays in order. He’d even taken up the job of arranging window displays, something she’d not yet had the time to do that day. All respectable print shops had eye-catching displays. Having that part of the business sorted would bring in more print jobs, and Ganor’s easy and personable discussions of the serials would bring in more penny dreadful customers.
Hiring him had proven a stroke of genius. And yet she couldn’t shake a nagging sense of uncertainty. His knuckles bore the heavy scarring of one who’d seen more than his share of brawls. He was a fighter, though likely not a professional pugilist. She was not unacquainted with men who swung fists as a matter of course, but it still made her a touch nervous having one working in the shop.
Ganor worked hard, but there was an air of distraction about him. Sometimes his mind wandered enough that he didn’t respond when she called out to him. His eyes would take on the strangest look when someone mentioned a penny dreadful author—didn’t seem to matter which one. And he asked a lot of questions.
Still, having him there to lug and deliver things made everything run better. It also allowed her a few more unguarded moments where she could read the penny dreadfuls she loved, despite her feelings of lingering guilt. The stories Papa resented having in the shop gave her a sense of friendship and adventure. She wasn’t certain she could entirely give them up, even for him.
She was rereading the first installment in Mr. King’s latest offering, searching for the clues that he always managed to sprinkle in his writing. Vera took pride in being able to sort out the mystery a little ahead of the story.
“Enjoying it?” Ganor plopped onto the chair beside hers, the both of them sitting at the table near the back of the shop where print orders were taken.
“I always like Mr. King’s stories,” she said. “The mystery and romanticalness.” She stopped a minute. “I’m not certain that’s a word.”
He tossed back one of his heart-fluttering smiles. “Seems to me it ought to be.”
“You have a nice way with the customers,” she said.
“Talking with ’em about the penny dreadfuls and helping ’em sort out which ones they’d like best.”
“Are Mr. King’s the ones you like best?” He motioned to the story she still held in her hands.
“I like most all of them.”
“So do I.” They were having a rare quiet moment in the shop, a lull between waves of customers. “Seems odd to me, though; you selling stories when your da is so opposed to ’em.”
She glanced toward the back doorway, wanting to make certain her papa wasn’t near enough to overhear. “The shop weren’t doing well. We sell a good amount of parchment and pens and such things. But, without enough print orders coming in, we needed something else. I knew the penny dreadfuls were popular, and I’d read plenty enough of them to know how to go about selling them. He was spitting fire over it when I first brought ’em here. He still ain’t happy about the whole thing. But it’s kept us afloat.”
Ganor leaned his arms on the table, appearing to settle in for a cozy chat. How long had it been since that had happened with anyone at all? Papa was sometimes talkative over their evening meals, but outside of him she didn’t have a lot of gabs.
“Why is it your da, a man who despises books and tales and the written word, plies his trade as a printer? Seems a contradiction to me.”
“He was a printer in Russia. It’s the trade he knows and the skills he has.” She shrugged, her hands held out to her side. “He never prints any books or stories or bits of fiction. He limits himself to documents and advertisements and pamphlets.”
“Pamphlets are written by writers,” Ganor pointed out.
“I know it’s a contradiction, but I don’t press him on it. If he limited his jobs even more, we’d be in the suds for sure and certain.”
“Money remains tight, does it?”
His ginger brow pulled as he focused more closely on her. “You’re certain you’ve the funds for paying me? Don’t misunderstand, it’s grateful I am for the income as I’d not care to live with m’sister for the rest of m’life. But I don’t want to be the reason your shop sinks beneath the waves.”
“With how many penny dreadfuls you sold today alone, I’d wager you’ll more than pay for yourself.”
He grinned broadly. The man had a shockingly beautiful smile. “I’ve a fondness for the tales.”
“I twigged that.”
Still looking as amused as ever, he asked, “You ‘twigged’ it?”
“Sorted it out,” she explained. “South London shows up in my words still.”
He nodded. “Ireland wriggles its way into mine now and then.”
She snorted. “‘Now and then.'”
“What is it you’re trying to say, lass?” he asked, eyes twinkling with laughter.
“That I’m not sure you know what the phrase ‘now and then’ means, that’s what I’m saying.” She couldn’t remember the last time she’d smiled so much chatting with someone. “It’d be like me saying I crave hot roasted chestnuts ‘now and then.'”
“Fond of roasted chestnuts, are you?”
Excerpt from The Merchant and the Rogue by Sarah M. Eden. Copyright © 2021 by Sarah M. Eden. Published by Shadow Mountain Publishing. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.
Meet the Author
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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Virtual Book Tour
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 spotlights, exclusive excerpts, and reviews of this new Victorian-era novel set in London, England.
Aug 16 Among the Reads (Review)
Aug 16 Austenprose (Review)
Aug 16 Reading is My Superpower (Review)
Aug 17 Literary Time Out (Review)
Aug 17 Getting Your Read On (Review)
Aug 17 Heidi Reads (Excerpt)
Aug 17 Laura’s Reviews (Review)
Aug 18 Our Book Confessions (Review)
Aug 18 Bookworm Lisa (Review)
Aug 19 Fire & Ice (Review)
Aug 19 From Pemberley to Milton (Excerpt)
Aug 20 My Bookish Bliss (Review)
Aug 20 Gwendalyn’s Books (Review)
Aug 20 Storeybook Reviews (Excerpt)
Aug 21 Bookish Rantings (Review)
Aug 21 The Calico Critic (Review)
Aug 22 The Christian Fiction Girl (Review)
Aug 22 Books, Teacups, & Reviews (Excerpt)
Aug 23 My Jane Austen Book Club (Spotlight)
Aug 23 Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen (Review)
Aug 23 Reading with Emily (Review)
Aug 24 Wishful Endings (Review)
Aug 24 Relz Reviewz (Review)
Aug 24 The Book Diva Reads (Excerpt)
Aug 25 Bookfoolery (Review)
Aug 25 Greenish Bookshelf (Review)
Aug 26 A Bookish Way of Life (Review)
Aug 26 Nurse Bookie (Review)
Aug 27 So Little Time… (Excerpt)
Aug 27 Probably at the Library (Review)
Aug 27 Bringing Up Books (Review)
Aug 28 Books and Socks Rock (Review)
Aug 28 The Bibliophile Files (Review)
Aug 29 Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina (Review)
Aug 29 A Darn Good Read (Review)