Hello readers! I’m happy to share excerpt of new historical romance by Sarah M. Eden, he Merchant and the Rogue, as a part of blog tour organised by Austen Prose Tours. Please check out the snippet of this new book in series in this post.
The Merchant and the Rogue : Proper Romance Victorian by Sarah M. Eden
Book 3 in The Dread Penny Society
Publication Date : August 17th 2021
Publisher : Shadow Mountain Publishing
Genre : Historical Romance, Historical Mystery/Suspense, Inspirational Fiction
Previous Books in the Series: The Lady and the Highwayman (2019) & The Gentleman and the Thief (2020)
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.
Instalment I – in which our lonely Heroine is forced to endure the company of a Person with a most Roguish reputation!
In the village of Chippingwich was a confectionary shop where sweets of unparalleled deliciousness were sold by a woman who had not long been a resident. Tallulah O’Doyle’s arrival in the picturesque hillside hamlet had gone mostly unnoticed until she opened her shop and became quite quickly a favorite of many villagers. She created and sold peppermints and taffies, anise candies and sweets with soft cream centers. She included cakes and biscuits in her offerings and showed herself quite adept at all that she made. Indeed, she had no equal in the matter of confectionary delights.
Alas, her life was not nearly so honeyed as the sweets she sold! Tallulah was quite alone in the world, without parents or siblings, without the dear friends she’d known when she was young, without the beloved granny who had raised her on tales of the Fae and warnings of creatures lurking somewhere between myth and reality. Tallulah now lived far from her childhood home in Ireland, far from the familiar paths and fields she’d daily traversed. To England she’d come to build a new life, and, for all her show of bravery and determination, she was lonely and terribly uncertain.
“Lemon drops, please, Miss Tallulah.” Seven-year-old Belinda Morris clinked a ha’penny onto the shop counter, the top of her head barely visible.
“Not peppermints?” That was Belinda’s usual choice of sweets.
“Marty likes lemon drops.”
Tallulah leaned forward across the counter, the better to see the dear child. “And he has convinced you to try them?”
She shook her head. “He don’t have a ha’penny. I’m sharin’ with him.” Her eyes darted toward the shop window.
Little Marty, near in age to Belinda, stood on the other side of the glass, watching with a look of earnest worry. She knew his family was not particularly flush; the sweets he purchased now and then came dear to him. That this girl, whose situation was not much better, would buy his favorite in order to brighten his day . . . Dear, kind Belinda!
“Perhaps I could give you three lemon drops and three small peppermint sweets,” Tallulah said. “Then you would both have your favorite.”
“How many candies is that?” Belinda asked.
“Count them on your fingers, dear.”
Belinda did, her lips moving silently. “Six! But I usually only get four with a ha’penny.”
Tallulah simply smiled. She pulled three of each candy from the glass display jars on the nearby shelf and wrapped them in a small bit of paper. “You are a good-hearted girl,
Belinda,” she said, handing the prized sweets over the counter. “And a very good friend, indeed.”
“Oh, thank you, Miss Tallulah!” She skipped from the shop. Her exchange with Marty was visible through the windows, an innocent bit of kindness. A mere moment later, Marty rushed into the shop and behind the counter.
He threw his arms around Tallulah’s waist. “Thank you, Miss Tallulah.”
“Make certain you thank Belinda. ’Twas her ha’penny.”
“I will, Miss Tallulah. I promise!”
He rushed out and rejoined his friend. Tallulah smiled at the sight and, after they’d slipped from view, at the memory. She’d once had dear friends like that as well. She was gaining acquaintances in Chippingwich, but she was often lonely. And far too often alone.
As she wiped down the counter, she allowed her thoughts to whirl in the winds of time, carrying her back to Ireland and the life she’d lived there. It had always been home to her. Could this tiny village feel that way? Could she find home again? How heavy was her heart with so difficult a question resting upon it!
The shop door opened once more, and the local squire stepped inside. Tallulah did not know him well. He spent far more time at the pub than the confectionary shop, a not unusual preference amongst the men of the village. Mr. Carman was a man of great influence and importance in the village.
Tallulah greeted him in a tone of deference. “Welcome, Mr. Carman. How may I help you?”
With a flick of his red cape, the squire placed himself at the counter but somehow seemed to fill the entirety of the shop. He wore a hat in the same shade of crimson. Tallulah had never seen him without either accessory. It made him quite easy to identify. As did the almost putrid smell of him. Tallulah struggled against the urge to hold her nose when he was nearby. Yet, no one else seemed the least bothered.
“I am hosting a fine family who are passing through the area, and I am in need of a very elegant cake.”
“Of course.” Tallulah jotted down his requirements for flavor, size, and style, and the time and date he would need it.
While they discussed the particulars, the door opened yet again. For a moment, she was entirely distracted from her purpose. The man who had just entered was known to her by reputation, and that reputation was not an entirely angelic one.
Royston Prescott was known for two things. First, he was the local haberdasher and quite good at what he did. Second, he had a reputation for being a rogue. Not a true scoundrel or someone a person ought to be afraid of. Rather, he was playful and mischievous. He made trouble, but in a way that people liked him all the more. Liked him, but perhaps did not entirely trust him. He was known to flirt with any and every female he came across. He was known to joke when he ought to have been serious, to take lightly those things which ought to be taken quite seriously.
Tallulah was not afraid of him. She doubted anyone truly was. But he was a rogue and a flirt. Men of that sort were best taken with an enormous grain of salt.
“I will be with you in a moment,” she said.
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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