The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels (Dangerous Damsels #1) by India Holton
A prim and proper lady thief must save her aunt from a crazed pirate and his dangerously charming henchman in this fantastical historical romance.
Cecilia Bassingwaite is the ideal Victorian lady. She’s also a thief who flies around England drinking tea, blackmailing friends and acquiring treasure by interesting means. Until Ned Lightbourne shows up to kill her. His employer, Captain Morvath, who possesses a gothic abbey bristling with cannons and an unbridled hate for the world, intends to rid England of all its presumptuous women, starting with the Wisteria Society. Cecilia is forced to team up with her handsome would-be assassin to save the women who raised her – hopefully proving that she’s as much of a scoundrel as the rest of them.
We have only three laws in our Society, Cecilia. No killing civilians. Pour the tea before the milk. And no stealing each other’s houses. Anyone breaking those laws is cast out – literally, and in most cases from a very significant height.
This is a great combination of espionage, fairytale-ish fantasy, action, regency romance with very smart and sarcastic sense of humour. The battle scenes are impactful and not over the top, given that they are fighting in flying houses!
You will delightfully be distracted by the fact that this novel is absolutely packed with literary allusions, with half the throwaway sentences containing either references to 19th century novels or variations upon classic lines from those novels. Such as Bronte and Jane Austen. It’s wittily and cleverly done, not to mention the very Victorian style romance elements that will leave you smiling to yourself.
So, if you are a fan of classic literature with a fantasy twist or simply looking for a quick light read, then you will love this series.
The series continues in The League of Gentlewomen Witches.