Title: Scales and Sensibility (Regency Dragons Book One)
Author/Publisher: Stephanie Burgis
Price: $4.99 (ebook)
Release Date: 4 October 2021
Elinor Tregarth is a practical young woman. After the deaths of her parents — and the discovery that their modest savings had been lost to con artists — Elinor and her sisters went their separate ways, each going to live with a different set of relatives. Elinor was determined to make the best of her situation … even if that meant being silent and putting up with her temperamental cousin Penelope and her bullying uncle. But when Penelope’s abusive behavior threatens the life of a young dragon, Elinor has enough. With no plan other than to get as far away as quickly as possible, she escapes, dragon in one hand, suitcase in the other. But when she is literally knocked into a ditch by a passing carriage, she makes the acquaintance of Benedict Hawkins, an impoverished land-owner whose own family fortune was lost to the same con artists. One misunderstanding leads to another and, the next thing Elinor knows, she has made a wish … and her dragon has granted it … because dragons really are magic ….
Stephanie Burgis is one of my favorite authors. Her Harwood Spellbook series is great escapist fare; perfect for a rainy afternoon or after a day of relentless bad news. As such, I was excited when I found an advance copy of Scales and Sensibility on netgalley. I snatched it up and read it immediately.
This book is so much fun! It’s a frothy confection of dragons, magic, high fashion, and unrequited love. Plus vexing relatives, thieves, lies, snooping servants, and blackmail. Elinor is a wonderful protagonist. A loyal sister and loving daughter, she misses her family terribly. She shows her true nature to the reader immediately when she comes to the defense of a helpless dragon, thereby incurring the wrath of her cousin and risking her precarious position in a household that doesn’t really want her. She cannot abide cruelty and injustice.
Benedict Hawkins is a good match for her. He actually has a brain in his handsome head, and is determined to fulfill his responsibilities as a land-owner; he has brothers, nieces, and tenant farmers and villagers who all risk eviction and poverty if he can’t raise the funds to save his ancestral estate. While he hopes to marry someone he likes and can make happy, he’s willing to wed someone even as awful as Penelope to fulfill his duty.
Then there’s the dragon, Sir Jessamyn. A beautiful creature the size of a cat, his wings were clipped to turn him into a fashion accessory. Since the discovery of dragons in South America only about a decade earlier, they have become the feature of high society. Everyone assumes they are dumb animals, remnants of a species that once flourished around the world and inspired fairy tales. But they are most definitely not magic, because magic isn’t real …. Except, as Elinor discovers, it is. And it is a gift that dragons share only rarely, and only with humans who treat them with love and affection.
Scales and Sensibility is the first in a brand new series; at least two more books will follow, each centered around one of Elinor’s sisters. I can’t wait to read them.
Highly recommended to fans of Burgis’ other books, as well as fans of the Stariel series by AJ Lancaster, Burning Bright by Melissa McShane, A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher, and the Manners and Monsters series by Tilly Wallace.
[Reviewed by Rebecca Buchanan.]