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Elizabeth Collington, the twenty-year-old daughter of a country vicar, longs for more than the circumscribed life of her 18th-century Devonshire village. When a highwayman steals a kiss along with her mother’s necklace – provoking feelings of which her father would never approve – she suddenly has a secret no one must know. Soon after this unsettling event, a young widow arrives in the village, catching Elizabeth by surprise as their friendship advances quickly to the deepest intimacy she has ever known. Yet the highwayman will not leave her alone, filling her mind with ideas of revolution and her body with sensations of the greatest impropriety.
And what of Anthony, son of the neighboring Earl, whose halting courtship holds out her one slim chance at an establishment in life? Will Elizabeth choose the conventional path, honoring her duty to her father and safeguarding her reputation? Or will she follow the demands of her heart, pursuing a love even less proper than that for a highwayman?
Daring and Decorum is a comedy of manners wrapped around a Gothic tale; a mashup of Jane Austen, Alfred Noyes’ poem The Highwayman, Robin Hood, and Moll Cutpurse; and a passionate case for the freedom to love whom one chooses. It should appeal to fans of Ellen Kushner’s Riverside series, Emma Donoghue’s Life Mask, and Michelle Martin’s Pembroke Park.
The Highwayman series takes place in the political milieu of 1790s England: poverty contrasted with lavish wealth, bread riots, calls for political reform, counter-charges of treason and sedition, the movement for abolition, and above all, the fear of the French revolution being imported to British shores.
Daring and Decorum is available now. You can order the hardback from your local bookseller or get it in ebook format from the links below.
Tip: If you’re looking for it in Epub format for your Kobo Reader, choose Smashwords. Same if you want it in LRF for your old Sony reader.
If you’re interested in the historical research that went into the novel, you’ll find that here. If you want to read the first three chapters, you’ll find them here. And if you enjoy a night at the theatre, I’ve got an excerpt in which Rebecca and Elizabeth watch “As You Like It” here.