Author: India Holton
Narrator: Elizabeth Knoweldon
Audiobook Length: 10 hours 2 minutes
Cecilia Bassingwaite is the ideal Victorian lady. She’s also a thief. Like the other members of the Wisteria Society crime sorority, she flies around England drinking tea, blackmailing friends, and acquiring treasure by interesting means. Sure, she has a dark and traumatic past and an overbearing aunt, but all things considered, it’s a pleasant existence. Until the men show up.
Ned Lightbourne is a sometimes assassin who is smitten with Cecilia from the moment they meet. Unfortunately, that happens to be while he’s under direct orders 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. Ned has plans of his own. But both men have made one grave mistake. Never underestimate a woman.
When Morvath imperils the Wisteria Society, Cecilia is forced to team up with her handsome would-be assassin to save the women who raised her–hopefully proving, once and for all, that she’s as much of a scoundrel as the rest of them.
The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels is the first novel in the Dangerous Damsels series. It is an excellent mix of historical formal society mixed with the adventures of pirates. Characters that are seemingly demure English women turn out to be pirates, who are land-based and run their households. Their “ships” are their houses that have the ability to move, which gave an unexpected fantasy-like element to the story. I honestly did not know what to expect when I started this story, but it turned out to be a fun adventure that included an interesting enemies to lovers romance. I cannot wait to discover more from this series in the future!
Cecilia Bassingthwaite lives with her aunt, Miss Darlington. When an unexpected visitor knocks on their door, it turns into an assassination attempt that they must escape. This was a thrilling start to the story while the reader is almost immediately captivated and is almost compelled to figure everything out. Automatically, the reader is introduced to the lady pirates who have an unknown enemy that later reveals himself. Cecilia and Miss Darlington are members of the Wisteria Society, a gang of female pirates. Eventually, Cecilia meets Captain Ned Lightbourne, who has secrets all of his own. The two of them need to team up to defeat Captain Morvath, who is set on destroying the Wisteria Society.
Ned and Cecilia have excellent banter as they keep meeting each other and their enemies to lovers story develops. The side characters in this story were a delightful surprise. Each character seemed to have a purpose and even if they did not spend long on the page, they felt like whole characters with their own lives and personalities. The pacing is slow in some places, but generally has a fair amount of action. There are some fun twists and turns along the way and I love the adventures the characters face. The novel itself is quirky and much unexpected. There are moments where you are in awe and wonder what you are reading, yet it is captivating and entertaining. Although there are a lot of elements in this story, there are excellent building blocks to set up an excellent series and I cannot wait to read the next novel.
Overall, I enjoyed the defiance of perceived gender roles in this historical universe. The Wisteria Society women were proper yet were adventurous and defied society norms. There is a nice mix of humor in this daring story filled with action and romance. The writing is unique as it does not take itself too seriously. Again this novel did not turn out like anything that I expected yet I could not stop listening to the audiobook until I finished it. The characters were fun and all fit well together within the story. I do wish that the romance and the main two characters were explored a little more. I greatly enjoyed this part of the story and just wanted more from it. Since this novel turned out to be a delight, I will definitely give the sequel a try!