• Selena | Beauty's Library

The Merchant and the Rogue Review

The Merchant and the Rogue is the third book a part of The Dread Penny Society series.


Rating: 2/5

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.

I was given an ARC through Shadow Mountain Publishing asking that I read it and feature it on my page. Thank you!


The Merchant and the Rogue is the third book a part of The Dread Penny Society (DPS) series. But this series is all standalones that just follow different sets of characters who are a part of this society. The DPS is a society of writers who take part in much larger roles, sort of acting as a secret service type society.


This third installment follows writer, Brogan who must find a way to gather details on the father of Vera who’s a merchant of a print shop. Brogan finds himself working for Vera under a false name to get closer and be able to gather more details on her father’s actions. Shortly after, the shops around the print shop see a rise in criminal activities. Though, these criminal activities seem to play into a much larger plan. Brogan and Vera must work together to get to the bottom of it to save the community.


I struggled to enjoy this one. Being labeled a “proper romance” I expected a much more forefront love story. But I felt it was barely there. We were more focused on the criminal activity in the community. I was disappointed in this. Nothing wrong with a historical fiction book not having much romance, but with how this was is shown as a romance, I expected much more from it. If it wasn’t labeled as a “proper romance” I probably wouldn’t have been so disappointed.


I struggled to enjoy this one. Being labeled a “proper romance” I expected a much more forefront love story.

As well as, this book features a book within a book, actually two books within a book. We get to see two of these penny dreadful stories. These penny dreadful stories are stories written by the DPS members. The idea of these stories is they are short snippets of a story that are released in a series of episodes and sold for a penny. So each week a new episode of each story is available for people to buy and read. I honestly loved the idea of these penny stories. And we got to see two of these stories, including one written by one of our main characters, Brogan. Although I loved the idea of them, I didn’t care about being able to read them. I found them to be distracting and took us away from the main storyline. They also had no correlation to the story besides being mentioned as the stories being read in the story.


This book features a book within a book, actually two books within a book... Although I loved the idea of them, I didn’t care about being able to read them.

Overall, this was a miss for me. I expected a much different story than we got causing me to be so disappointed. I just wanted a stronger romance. Also, I found the pacing to be slow and sluggish at times which made this hard for me to enjoy without that romance aspect.


However, even though I didn’t enjoy this one much I can see others enjoying this. I’d say if you enjoy historical fiction with a slight romance you’d enjoy this one!