reviews

Scales and Sensibility (Regency Dragons #1) by Stephanie Burgis - Book Review

Write on: Mon, 23 Jan 2023 by  in SPFBO 8 Read 254

This book is of a genre I really enjoy reading. I love Jane Austen with its understated humour and of course I adore dragons, but I’ve come to realize how much I enjoy comedic fantasy and romance in the last couple of years, so this Regency fantasy rom-com pretty much hit all the right buttons for me! It is a cozy comedy of manners where everyone’s behaviour is unbearably constrained by the right and proper things to say and do at any particular time. Just as with Jane Austen this can leave the reader wanting to scream with frustration at the characters as they hide their true feelings and act with propriety rather than following their hearts’ desires. 

In Scales & Sensibility, the latest ridiculous fashion trend from London is that of dragons being worn on the shoulder of society ladies as fashion accessories - and being animals, sometimes the younger, less trained animals poop all down the back of their owner! This seemed to me to be a statement about animal cruelty and the idiocy and inconvenience of fashion trends - which absolutely resonated with me. 

The characters were fairly stereotypical for the Regency genre, but that really didn’t matter. It meant there wasn’t a need for pages of character exposition and kept the page count down quite nicely, making this a book which can easily be read over the course of a weekend. 

The main character, Elinor Tregarth is a dowdy, sensible young woman with no dowry, living with her brattish yet beautiful cousin Penelope’s family, since her parents died six months previously. Elinor may not be physically beautiful but she is smart and caring and her beauty of character shines through. She loves and looks after her cousin’s dragon, Sir Jessamyn, and cleans up all of his messes. Being mistreated by the family, she runs away, taking the dragon with her and meets the handsome and kind-hearted Benedict Hawkins in unfortunate circumstances. He has arrived with the aim of marrying Penelope and securing, via her dowry, the financial security of his estate and younger siblings. He is a typical Regency hero in the Mr Darcy vein, and they fall in love almost immediately, which may not ring true to some readers, but is fairly typical of the genre.

Magic and mayhem aplenty ensue, with Elinor’s appearance being magically altered by the dragon to make her look like a famous socialite and her aunt suddenly saying out loud everything she really thinks about everything and everyone. She is blackmailed by two separate people, falls in love with Benedict and has to help plan her awful cousin’s debutante ball and save her aunt from being declared insane. She seems to run headlong from one unfortunate disaster to another and the fast-paced story begins to read exactly like a traditional theatrical farce such as Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest. 

The Regency world-building was well done with society events in London discussed and read about in a newspaper. The household staff were ever present and knew everything that was going on in the house, and the gardens were perfect for “taking a turn” in, or getting some air. 

The magic of dragons was denied by stuffy Mr Aubrey, a dragon scholar and friend of Benedict Hawkins, but eventually even he has to begin believing in fairy tales. 

This was a delightful read and I will be sure to put the author’s other books on my TBR pile.

SPFBO Score 9/10

Sue

Sue is British, living in Massachussetts since 2003. A Mum of two teens, she enjoys fantasy, SciFi, dystopian, thrillers, occasional historical fiction in both YA and adult genres. She wrote her grandad's life story during 2020 and has a couple of ideas for other books. You can find my reviews by Sue at suelbavey.wordpress.com.