Thursday, August 26, 2021

Cover Reveal: Bloomsbury Girls, The Sequel to The Jane Austen Society

Last year I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Natalie Jenner's The Jane Austen Society.  A USA Today and #1 national bestseller, this delightful novel was more than worthy of a follow-up. I'm thrilled to report that Natalie and St. Martin's Press are now revealing the cover art and some delectable details about the sequel, Bloomsbury Girls. Below you'll find the full cover, as well as some tantalizing information on what is to come. It looks like the upcoming publishing date is May 17, 2022, just in time to include in your next summer vacation's literary tote bag. I hope they are able to employ Richard Armitage once again for the audio book version as well. What a great listen! Add this title to your TBR list today!

“One bookshop. Fifty-one rules. Three women who break them all.”

The Internationally Bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society returns with a compelling and heartwarming story of post-war London, a century-old bookstore, and three women determined to find their way in a fast-changing world.

Bloomsbury Books is an old-fashioned new and rare bookstore that has persisted and resisted change for a hundred years, run by men and guided by the general manager's unbreakable fifty-one rules.  But in 1950, the world is changing, especially the world of books and publishing, and at Bloomsbury Books, the girls in the shop have plans:

Vivien Lowry:  Single since her aristocratic fiancĂ© was killed in action during World War II, the brilliant and stylish Vivien has a long list of grievances - most of them well justified and the biggest of which is Alec McDonough, the Head of Fiction.

Grace Perkins: Married with two sons, she's been working to support the family following her husband's breakdown in the aftermath of the war. Torn between duty to her family and dreams of her own.

Evie Stone:  In the first class of female students from Cambridge permitted to earn a degree, Evie was denied an academic position in favor of her less accomplished male rival. Now she's working at Bloomsbury Books while she plans to remake her own future.

As they interact with various literary figures of the time - Daphne Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Sonia Blair (widow of George Orwell), Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, and others - these three women with their complex web of relationships, goals and dreams are all working to plot out a future that is richer and more rewarding than anything society will allow. 


“I never intended for Evie Stone to be a major character in my debut novel, let alone inspire my second one, Bloomsbury Girls. But as time went on, I found I could not leave her behind in Chawton with the other society members. And then one day I rewatched a favourite movie, 84 Charing Cross Road, and I remember thinking, there's a whole other story in here still to be told, of an upstairs-downstairs motley crew of booksellers, and right away the figures came to life.”

“As with The Jane Austen Society, Bloomsbury Girls features multiple characters and storylines revolving around one very charming location: this time, the quintessential Dickensian-type bookshop.”

“If The Jane Austen Society was the book I wrote when I was coming out of sadness, Bloomsbury Girls was written when I was very happy, and I hope it provides a little cheer to readers during this difficult time.

And now for the big reveal: the cover of Bloomsbury Girls!


Natalie Jenner is the author of two books, the instant international bestseller THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY and BLOOMSBURY GIRLS. A Goodreads Choice Award finalist for best debut novel and historical fiction, THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY was a USA Today and #1 national bestseller and has been sold for translation in twenty countries. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie has been a corporate lawyer, a career coach and, most recently, an independent bookstore owner in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Book Review and Swag Offer: The Merchant and the Rogue by Sarah M. Eden

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.

Sarah M. Eden’s The Merchant and the Rogue is the third book in the Dread Penny Society series. It is, however, the first title that I have read from this author. I normally don’t jump into a series like this; my preference is to begin with the first volume and go from there. Prospective readers can be assured, though, that The Merchant and the Rogue easily stands on its own. That said, this novel will assuredly be just the beginning for me. I hope to go back and read The Lady and the Highwayman as well as The Gentleman and the Thief.

I’m sure there is some generations-old literary tradition that caused Eden to title the books of this series in the way that she did. Referencing Merchant, the title is drawn not from the main narrative, but from one of two “penny dreadfuls” that are included in installments between chapters of the entire book. If you aren’t familiar with the history of penny dreadfuls, they were small, cheaply-printed tales sold at a price that almost anyone could afford. Dreadfuls were often serialized, leaving the reader wanting more and looking forward to purchasing the next chapter. “Binge reading” wasn’t really done with these publications. They were lower-brow, cheaper versions of the serializations as seen with Charles Dickens’ writing, for example. The Merchant and the Rogue tells the brief tale of a female merchant, a rogue with whom she crosses paths, and a dastardly villain bent on terrorizing their local town. This story takes on some fairy-tale elements, which took me by surprise at first. The seven short chapters had a different tone and flourish that worked well with the material, and I enjoyed returning to the short story as it popped up throughout the book. The second “penny dreadful” featured is called The Dead Zoo. In it we find a Sherlockian investigator attempting to deduce the disappearance of specimens from the local Museum of Natural History. I don’t want to give anything away, but this story took a turn that I did not see coming, one that harkened back to a Twilight Zone feel. Its five short chapters were a delightful surprise. I also enjoyed the meta-referential way in which The Dead Zoo and The Merchant and the Rogue were mentioned in the main text.

The primary narrative doesn’t feature a gentleman rogue or a dead zoo, but presents characters who are thrust into quite an adventure, with nothing but mostly realistic elements. Some individuals are members of the secretive Dread Penny Society, a group of writers who have come together to right wrongs in their community, almost akin to a private superhero club, without the superpowers. Others in the novel include the residents of London, some of whom have immigrated from lands such as Russia and Ireland. They have checkered pasts which could come back to haunt them as they encounter new enemies who are threatening the peace and freedom of their neighborhoods and businesses. There is also a delightful storyline between one of the “Dreadfuls”, author Brogan Donnelly and the Russian immigrant Vera Sorokina. 

While I didn’t find Eden’s writing to be cutting-edge, The Merchant and the Rogue (the entire work) was an enjoyable read for me as I close out these last days of summer, before school work begins again. The content was extremely family-friendly, with no colorful language, and the romance factor was very sweet, not steamy. The story does not shy away from difficult worldly elements, though, as the plight of street children, the struggles of immigrants and systemic mafia-like bullying are addressed. 

The work as a whole was very entertaining, though. The protagonists were very likeable, and the villains (particularly in the titular short story) provided interesting conflict to the narratives. If you enjoy authors such as Julie Klassen, Erica Vetsch or Melanie Dickerson, The Merchant and the Rogue (and the entire series I’m sure) would be a good match for you. I’m a newcomer to Sarah M. Eden’s work, but I intend to continue enjoying her writing for years to come.


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.

Everyone who submits a copy of their receipt and fills out the offer's form (click HERE) during the week of August 15-22 will receive The Merchant and the Rogue Swag Bundle.

Bundle includes (but is not limited to):

- 1 Mystery ARC (only available to the first 500 submissions)

- Assorted Stickers

- Bookmark

- Proper Romance Enamel Pin (available to the first 1,000 submissions)

- Bookplate signed by Sarah M Eden

For more information, visit the publisher's details page HERE.

About 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.


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.


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)      






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