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Book Review: Scales and Sensibility

After her parents died penniless, Elinor Tregarth and her sisters are separated and relegated to being poor relations. Now living in her Aunt’s house with her horribly spoiled cousin and blowhard uncle, Elinor intends on being a model poor relation until her cousin’s cruelty toward her pet dragon, Sir Jessamyn, becomes too intolerable to bear. Taking what coin she has, she absconds with the poor dragon only to be hurled face first into a mud puddle by a passing carriage. The bad luck continues when the inhabitants of said carriage turn out to be the premiere dragon scholar of the age and his friend, a handsome but down-on-his-luck gentleman who has come to this part of Britain to woo her spoiled cousin in hopes of securing her great dowry. Despondent and overwhelmed, Elinor makes a wild wish only for it to be granted which sets off a comedy of errors and manners and which threatens not only Elinor’s heart but also the future of her whole family.

This is a new-to-me author but when I saw the cover I just knew I had to give this book a try, and I am glad I did. It’s a fun, fantastical sweet romance in the style of Jane Austen. The book is obviously a play on the classic Sense and Sensibility but it doesn’t lift the plot or the characters of the novel wholesale, nor is it a pure Alternate Universe (AU) of the novel. But there are definite callouts to the book, so those people who like a good Jane Austen FanFic with fantastical elements will likely enjoy this novel.

The story moves very fast, taking place over less than a week’s time. But it covers a lot of things. There’s a mystery to be solved as well as several plots to be handled. Elinor keeps blundering into situations where she’s stuck between a rock and a hard place and often finds herself the subject of blackmail. I didn’t dislike Elinor and she’s a fun heroine, but at times she seems to be startlingly naïve and trusting.

The hero, Benedict Harper, is an absolute good doobie. He’s a great romance beta hero who is funny and kind and supportive and also stuck between doing what his heart wants and what is best for his family. I quite liked him. He had depth and he felt like a good foil and counterpart to Elinor.

There’s a few things I didn’t love. I wasn’t a huge fan of how over the top every other character was. They sort of became caricatures not characters… they were that one dimensional. Additionally, I felt that Elinor and Benedict fell in love a little too quickly…. while the author does hang a lampshade on it, it didn’t solve the underlying problem. I’m not the biggest fan of instalove. It’s a thing.

I did love the dragon lore and how realistic it felt for Regency ladies to turn dragons into fashion accessories… it felt like the designer dog or exotic bird crazes of the past and present. I enjoyed the mystery although with the small cast of characters, it’s pretty easy to see how everything is related. The writing was engaging and readable, but it did take me a while to get into the book at first (the beginning is a little slow.)

In all I liked the book and would be interested in reading the next book in the series. But it wasn’t a perfect book, so it gets:

Four stars

If this is your jam, you can get it here.

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I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley

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