Title: Claws and Contrivances (Regency Dragons 2)
Publisher/Author: Stephanie Burgis
Price: $24.99 / $15.99 / $5.99
Following the tragic deaths of their parents, sisters Elinor, Rose, and Harriet have separated, each taking shelter with a different member of their extended family. While Elinor was trapped in an awful situation (see Scales and Sensibility), Rose has been warmly welcomed by the loving — if scattered and overly-dramatic — Parry family. She has come to adore them all, and realizes just how much trouble they will be in when she finds a dragon hiding in the pantry. And then another dragon appears. And another. Toss in a shy, befuddled dragon scholar; a menacing, brooding neighbor; a fake engagement; mistaken identity; unrequited love and threats of social ruin and — well — even Rose may find herself at a loss as to how to solve everyone’s problems ….
I absolutely loved this book. Scales and Sensibility was amazing, and remains one of my favorite books, ever. We can now add Claws and Contrivances to that list. (While they are technically the first and second books in the series, it is possible to read Claws and Contrivances as a stand-alone. But, really, why would you deprive yourself of a wonderful book?)
First, Rose is fantastic. She is sweet and intelligent and very good at managing others. But she is also deeply wounded, terrified that too much dreaming and hoping will turn her into her father; and it was his unrealistic dreams that led to the deaths of himself and his wife, leaving the three sisters broke and alone. So Rose remains focused on the practicalities. And then those dragons come tumbling into her life, along with Mr. Aubrey.
Aubrey may come across as distracted and disinterested in Rose (or anything other than dragons), but that is most definitely not the case. His fascination with Rose is obvious to the reader, but not Rose, leading to one humorous misunderstanding after another. And I loved their arguments over the true nature of dragons, and whether or not dragons are really magical or just exhibit abilities that have yet to be explained by “natural philosophy.”
While all of this sounds like a cozy romantic fantasy — and it is — fair warning should be given: those dragons are escaping abusive conditions. While that abuse is never explicitly shown, it is alluded to on several occasions, and the conditions in which the dragons are imprisoned is shown.
Claws and Contrivances is a sweet, delicious romance filled with quirky, lovable characters, a truly vile villain, and brave and magical miniature dragons. Highly recommended to fans of Burgis’ others books, as well as fans of Quenby Olson, EB Wheeler, A Rival Most Vial by RK Ashwick, the Teacup Magic series by Tansy Rayner Roberts, and The Lady Jewel Diviner series by Rosalie Oaks.
[Reviewed by Rebecca Buchanan.]