Book review · historical fiction · Regency Romance · Romance

The Highwayman kept riding…

“A Cross-Country Trip through Regency England Brings Intrigue, Rogues, and High Adventure.”

Michelle Griep’s “The Noble Guardian” had me so engrossed in this tale I had a hard time shutting my light off at night to go to sleep. The Regency romace reads like a stand-alone novel, but I later learned it’s part of “The Bow Street Runners Trilogy.” The first two books are “Brentwood’s Ward” and “The Innkeeper’s Daughter” respectively.

With an opening that paid homage to “Cinderella,” Abigail Gilbert leaves a troubled home in Southampton, England, to journey north to her future husband Sir Jonathan Aberley. After a particularly nasty exchange with her stepmother, she leaves with lady’s maid Fanny, but not with the agreed upon guardian. Griep wove Abby’s familial backstory throughout the journey to shed light on what her life had been like and why she desperately wanted to keep going against all odds.

Capt. Samuel Thatcher hunted highwaymen, or robbers who attacked coaches to steal and sometimes kill passengers. They’d be on The Blacklist for sure. Charles Dickens’ would have loved the villain names alone. I kept hearing the song based on Alfred Noyes’ poem “The Highwayman” performed by Loreena McKennitt in my mind.

Battle-worn and jaded, Capt. Thatcher had seen too much of the underbelly of life with no reprieve. He desired to buy a plot of land to farm and live peacefully with his horse, Pilgrim. Who wouldn’t? But highwayman Shankhart Robbins and his crew made that dream recede further away.  Well, that and Samuel’s lack of funds.

Abby had a spirited first introduction to Capt. Thatcher after highwaymen attacked her coach. He’s drawn to her plight, even though he knows associating with him is dangerous. She may be a gentleman’s daughter, but Abby has a winning spirit, a strong personal faith in God, and a loving and generous heart.

The quick pace and heart-jumping-in-the-throat suspense grab me every time I read works from this Christy Award-winning author. Griep always weaves in the Gospel message in her stories, and God is usually a character in her tales, which I love. In fact, God played a role in rescuing characters, searching hearts, and healing hurts as they drew nearer to Him and each other.

I’m reading slowly now, but I’m excited to see how this journey ends. At least now I know I have two more books in the series to enjoy.   


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