by Kristen B.
Piracy, historically and currently, is really not something that good guys do. However, the Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels practices a variation of piratical nonsense that could have stepped out of an Austen novel (or maybe Bronte?). Lady Scoundrels don’t sail ships – they have access to a magic incantation that allows them to fly houses around the British countryside. We’re talking townhouses, manors, abbeys, and many other shapes and sizes of abodes, all the while on the lookout to protect themselves from the Great Peril: freckles.
It’s just silliness. India Holton’s novel recently provided the perfect antidote to real life. I will admit, it took a bit to come to terms with the sheer folly of it all – airborne houses and assassinations as a form of professional advancement, combined with social norms and rivalries straight out of a Regency romance.
Dear Reader, I adored it.
Our heroine, Miss Cecilia Bassingthwaite, wishes for nothing more than to be invited to the Senior Table of the Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels. She has every confidence of achieving this signal honor, after all, she has undertaken thievery, successfully piloted a residence, and even been targeted for an assassination. The only concern, though, comes from her antecedents. Her father is entirely the wrong sort of scoundrel, who has committed unfortunate poetry as well as the actual murder of her mother. He believes himself to be the unrecognized, illegitimate son of Branwell Bronte, but he proves himself to be an absolute bastard (pardon my language).
Miss Bassingthwaite’s adventures begin shortly after her estranged father absconds with the entire senior cohort of the Wisteria Society (and their residences) and makes off to the dreaded, dreary Northangerland Abbey. (yes, yes, I know). She is accompanied on her rescue attempt by Ned Lightbourne (a man of many aliases), who comes from a good pirating family that experienced severe setbacks with the loss of their house. The entire scheme goes to perdition in a handbasket once Queen Victoria arrives on the scene (with Windsor Castle). The concluding negotiations left me grinning in appreciation of these ruthlessly practical ladies.
Ned and Cecilia appeal as a power couple with intense, immediate chemistry. Reader: I may have blushed. Their convoluted route to trust and, dare I say it, love, gives the entire story its emotional underpinnings. While it is a romance, Cecilia’s need to settle family affairs and become a Lady Scoundrel drives the plot. That she keeps stumbling over and eventually conspiring with Ned only adds spice to the mix. Her consternation about what to do with the extra complication of figuring out who Ned is – both in reality and in her regard – makes the high stakes at Northangerland Abbey even steeper.
In short, if you are looking for a bit of fluff and fun to read while sipping tea (maybe with a
splash glass of sherry) that nonetheless celebrates competent women and the men who love them – you will enjoy The Wisteria Society for Lady Scoundrels, available as an e-book and an e-audiobook. I am looking forward to reading the sequel, The League of Gentlewoman Witches.
Kristen B. is a devoted bookworm lucky enough to work as the graphic designer for HCLS. She likes to read, stitch, dance, and watch baseball in season (but not all at the same time).