Maggie Clap is the Mistress of the Mollyhouse, providing ale for the thirsty, entertainment for the weary, and -on special occasions- secret marriage ceremonies that, for all their absurd splendor, carry meaning in the lives of men who have sacrificed their true selves in the outside world. She is fiercely protective of her boys, willing to do anything and everything to keep them safe.
For she has lost a boy before, a loss that flares with painful memory and yet is soothed by the arrival of a newcomer...
Outed and run out of his home in Dublin, Adam arrives at the Mollyhouse looking for a new beginning. Unable to continue work as a Tailor after being exposed as a "molly," Adam becomes Maggie's all around helper at the Mollyhouse, cleaning and tending the bar in exchange for room and board. He quickly adjusts to life within the Mollyhouse, belonging as easily to its safe walls as to the patrons within. Unbeknownst to him, his teenage cousin, Josephine Duncomb, has followed him there...
Josephine Duncomb is anything but the perfect debutante her parents would like her to be. When her cousin, Adam, arrives on her family's doorstep and is turned away, Josephine sneaks out and follows him to a world she could never have dreamed of: a world where a woman holds court, where men wear dresses, where the body you wear is an illusion meant to be broken by your true self.
Where a clumsy, graceless teenage girl can turn into a boisterous, bold blacksmith's apprentice...
Mark has been a fixture of Maggie's Mollyhouse from the beginning; a Protector and someone for Maggie to turn to when things go wrong. To preserve and defend this haven for London's outcasts, Mark must toe a constant tightrope between secrecy and notoriety, bribery and evasion, lawfulness and lawlessness. He has spent his life struggling to maintain control in circumstances stacked against him, always at the mercy of the powerful, always trying to win a game with a losing hand. But when Adam arrives at the Mollyhouse, Mark finds himself stripped of his tenuous control, vulnerable in a way he never was before.