Thursday, June 17, 2021

Review: The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton
Series: Dangerous Damsels, Book 1
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Historical Fantasy Romance 
The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels cover
ISBN: 9780593200162
Release Date: June 15, 2021
EBook Source: Publisher
Audiobook Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

A prim and proper lady thief must save her aunt from a crazed pirate and his dangerously charming henchman in this fantastical historical romance.

Cecilia Bassingwaite is the ideal Victorian lady. She's also a thief. Like the other members of the Wisteria Society crime sorority, she flies around England drinking tea, blackmailing friends, and acquiring treasure by interesting means. Sure, she has a dark and traumatic past and an overbearing aunt, but all things considered, it's a pleasant existence. Until the men show up.

Ned Lightbourne is a sometimes assassin who is smitten with Cecilia from the moment they meet. Unfortunately, that happens to be while he's under direct orders to kill her. His employer, Captain Morvath, who possesses a gothic abbey bristling with cannons and an unbridled hate for the world, intends to rid England of all its presumptuous women, starting with the Wisteria Society. Ned has plans of his own. But both men have made one grave mistake. Never underestimate a woman.

When Morvath imperils the Wisteria Society, Cecilia is forced to team up with her handsome would-be assassin to save the women who raised her--hopefully proving, once and for all, that she's as much of a scoundrel as the rest of them.

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels is a fantastical romp through Victorian England. Pirates, flying houses, a villain with delusions of grandeur…there’s a lot of quirky goodness to be found in India Holton’s debut. Holton’s style and irreverent humor will appeal to fans of Gail Carriger.

Cecilia Bassingwaite is a pirate whose wings are slightly clipped by her overprotective aunt and the pirate society she belongs to. But when assassin Ned Lightbourne appears on her doorstep, Cecilia thinks she finally has her chance to join the Wisteria Society. She just has to foil the pesky assassination attempt first. Except Ned is more than what he seems and his mission isn’t quite clear and oh dear, he is a rather tempting man. Cecilia can’t seem to keep the delicious rogue out of her mind and the land-bound pirate does seem to be equally attracted to her. Together they have to unravel several plots, the most pressing being the threat of Captain Morvath who is determined to rid England of strong women.

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels is quirky and fun. It has a lot going on – kidnappings, assassination attempts, multiple pirate plots, a romance, the politics of family and the Society – and I won’t go into it because this is a story that benefits from the plot being unfolded. The book does take a while to gain steam, but overall it’s a charming romp. Cecilia and Ned have an easy banter though the romance did leave me wanting just a bit more. The various characters were all unique and the world Holton has built is an interesting one (the flying pirate houses made me grin) and I hope to learn more about it in future Dangerous Damsels books. As I mentioned before, there is a lot going on in this story but the one downside is you don’t seem to go too deep into a lot of it. There’s a lot of style over substance in this story but oh, does Holton have style.

FTC Disclosure: I purchased the audiobook and received the EBook for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.