Cover Image: Scales and Sensibility

Scales and Sensibility

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Member Reviews

What a story!! Scales and Sensibility pay homage to author Jane Austen but I am telling you, this is in no way a retelling of sorts. No, there are no Dashwoods nor Colonel Brandon here. But the characters are quite as fascinating and lovely as the ones you can read in an Austen novel.

Meet Elinor Tregarth, the very gentle yet fierce cousin to the evil Penelope Hathergill, who unintentionally kidnapped a dragon and found solace in a room with a fortune hunter (and a snobby scholar) after falling into a ditch.

The dragons weren’t considered magical in this Regency rom-com, in fact, they were just used as accessories for debutantes in the society. But boy oh boy, were they wrong about them. Sir Jessamyn The Dragon wasn’t just some kind of accessory standing on a lady’s shoulder. Sir Jessamyn happened to be one of the fire-breathing mythical creatures, whose fire came from within and could grant your heart’s utmost desire. They could even change your appearance and curse you at the same time!

I liked how this story was imbued with comedy, romance, adventure, and fantasy while still maintaining that mystery until the end. Elinor was an interesting character. At first, she was timid and afraid to let her voice be heard, then she turned into one powerful, respected entity that even her enemies bow down to her and follow her lead. I loved that she’s also smart and loving and compassionate not only to her dragon but also to the person who saw the real her behind all the illusions. There was also The Armitages, who blew my mind with their uncanny relationship, the intimidating yet callous Halls, and of course, sweet naive Benedict Harper who had his own hidden agenda.

Stephanie Burgis has a unique writing prowess that enthralls her readers. The characters were exquisitely given peculiar qualities and the Regency theme made the whole story so fun & delightful to read. I’m glad there’s another book following this story because I can’t get enough of Elinor’s family! Another must-read recommendation for all you dragon lovers out there
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Have you ever found yourself reading Sense and Sensibility and wishing that there were more fantasy elements woven into the story? Well, good news! Following recent trends, Scales and Sensibility, written by Stephanie Burgins, incorporates dragons into this classic Jane Austen story.

Elinor Tregarth really did try. She wanted to be a helpful cousin to Penelope, especially as her family was kind enough to take her in. She was even willing to put up with Penelope's wild outbursts. However, she drew the line at watching Penelope mistreat her pets.

Though even then, she didn't mean to just walk away with the poor little dragon. Bu the was just so scared. Now, Elinor faces a surprise courtship, several trials, and the weight of her sister's well-being on her shoulders.

"It was a truth universally acknowledged that any young lady without a dragon was doomed to social failure."

Right, so I knew right away that I had to read Scales and Sensibility ASAP. Why? Because I adore both Jane Austen and dragons, and miraculously this novel somehow brings the two together. I never thought I would see the day when that happened!

As you can imagine, Scales and Sensibility is a bit of a romantic and comedy mixture. Much like its predecessor, there's a lot of Victorian chaos and drama, which leads to, you guessed it, more drama! And that's before taking the cute little dragons into account.

I'll admit that I adore the idea of Victorian-era people trying to turn little dragons into fashion accessories. Given that's how many people treat small animals, it holds. Just with these guys, there happens to be a bit of a stinkier mess when they get scared. Again, that sounds about right.

Scales and Sensibility is such a fun read; I sat down and read through it all in one sitting. I have no regrets on that matter; I can promise you this much! And you better believe that I'm going to be watching out for the sequel (Claws and Contrivances).
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This is a Regency romance with dragons. In fact, the only magic in the world seems to be the fact that dragons exist. It was very good, right until I figured it out and then it was still good until the end. The only downside to me is that the dragon is treated more as a MacGuffin than as a character. I hope the next tomes in the series will have more dragon action and agency.
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I received a copy from NetGalley for preview and this is my unsolicited review.

I was intrigued by the description of a Regency set historical involving dragons, with some romance and comedy. Hits so many things I would love.

This is about Elinor. She and her two sisters were separated because of the recent death of her parents, causing them to become destitute orphans. Because no single family wanted to take in all three girls, they were sent to separate households. Elinor ended up with living with her aunt, her husband, and their daughter Penelope. Unfortunately, instead of being cared for in her time of mourning, she is treated as an unpaid servant to a selfish young woman on the verge of her debut. Penelope is a spoiled little monster of a woman, indulged by her ass of a father, and allowed her way by her downtrodden mother. Elinor, being homeless otherwise, learned to stay silent to survive as best she could in the household. She puts up with her cousins insults, abuses, and general bitchiness, while helping her get ready for her debut, despite Elinor not even being offered the chance herself.

It also happens to be that the existence of dragons is confirmed at time, and they have become fashionable for high society. So fashionable members of the Ton, especially young ladies, apparently have small dragons as an accessory, sitting on their shoulders like trained parrots. Of course Penelope must have one, and the prettiest one to be found. Sir Jessamyn is a young dragon who seems to be rather nervous, not surprising considering his rather high strung and tempestuous mistress, Penelope. Apparently, when he gets anxious, or stressed, he releases himself, and as he is supposed to be sitting on her shoulder.... well, it leads to a rather unfashionable, slimy mess. Which just makes Penelope more upset, abusive, and irate... Surely you can see the cycle this can lead to.

Regardless, after months of dealing with Penelope, without any kindness or support from anyone in the household, and seeing Penelope's abuse spread to the poor dragon, Elinor had enough and leaves, and takes Sir Jessamyn with her, despite the fact that she has a sum total of less than 5 shillings, and no place to go. As she is walking away, she is nearly run down by a coach and four, and forced into a ditch of muddy water. The passenger, Benedict Hawkins, comes to her rescue and offers her a dinner and a night at a local inn so she can rest and clean up, on behalf of his friend, Mr. Aubrey, a dragon scholar who is rather immersed in his studies and not very aware of anything around him.

It turns out that Hawkins is in the region to woo the debutante Penelope, as she is known to be quite the heiress, and he has recently inherited an impoverished estate, as well as the care of his younger siblings and a niece. Elinor befriends him, and stays the night at the inn, but is overwhelmed by her life and concerns, as well as being fearful of being accused of stealing her cousin's dragon. So she wishes....

... and as everyone knows... dragons are magical, right?

This was a fun story indeed, with magical wishes, a bit of a Cinderella story with the downtrodden, abused female, and the wicked relatives, a Regency love story, etc. The dialogue is fun, and there were dragons! I felt that this was a very enjoyable read, with some very fun to read characters and storyline, and would be great for a young adult audience as well. Definitely not an epic tale worthy of the ages, but a good bit of clean fun. Now I am wondering about Mr. Aubrey and if there will be continuation of his story with one of Elinor's sisters?

3 out of 5 stars for me.
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A quick paced, Jane Austen-y romp but with dragons! The story had plenty of unexpected twists that kept me on my toes, was filled with characters both charming and despicable, and was honestly one of the fastest reading experiences of the past year or so. Lovely!
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I like sci-fi/fantasy books as well as regency romance novels.  I got 2 for 1 in this novel.  Definitely a fun combination and I signed up for the author's newsletter to receive notifications of future books in the series.
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A fun and well-written Regency romance, featuring (small) dragons, initially introduced as fashionable accessories for young ladies. 

The protagonist, Elinor, has strong stakes: not only her own survival after her parents lost all their money to a con artist and then died in a carriage accident, but that of her sisters, sent to different relatives in other parts of England. She has ended up with her mother's ineffectual sister and her aunt's angry, domineering husband and spoilt, cruel daughter. Very early on, she's unable to take her cousin's crap anymore, and despite being supposedly the sensible, practical sister, she walks out without a plan or anywhere to go. 

This unpromising beginning leads to a laudably twisty and enjoyably farcical plot in which Elinor impersonates a woman with a lot more power and influence, and is put in the difficult position of trying to arrange for the man she loves to marry her awful cousin (he also has responsibilities to help his family, and his father lost all their money in the same scam, so Cousin Penelope's dowry seems like the only hope). Along the way, the love interest's dragon-expert friend learns something he doesn't like and didn't expect; Elinor's resolve, creativity, and ability to remain composed in a crisis are tested severely; her aunt finally finds her voice; and justice is done on a couple of different levels. 

I spotted the big twist almost as soon as the relevant characters arrived (early in the book); how the whole plot would end up shaking out was eminently predictable, but I had no idea how the author was going to get there, and was more than willing to buckle in and enjoy the ride. There was a generous helping of coincidence involved in setting up the problem, but it was resolved by the determined and capable actions and the admirable character of the protagonist, so I have no complaints there. 

Speaking of admirable character, I appreciated how the love interest recognised and honoured Elinor's ability to keep her composure and deal with difficult situations pragmatically and effectively (even if she didn't feel like she was doing so). That's an excellent basis on which to choose a life partner, I can personally attest, and a much more sensible one than you'll see in most romances. 

The Regency setting (with the difference of the dragons) is well portrayed, and feels more authentic and better researched than a lot of "Regency" romances (many of which feel like modern people in cosplay with brief and inaccurate nods to Regency social realities).  The editing, even in the pre-release version I had from Netgalley, has few and minor errors. 

Overall, it's good stuff, and I'm looking forward to the sequels. I suspect that the passionate sister, Rose, will end up with Elinor's new brother-in-law, and that the dreamy academic sister, Harry, will be with the equally dreamy academic dragon expert, but I might well be surprised.
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After her parents died penniless, Elinor Tregarth and her sisters are separated and relegated to being poor relations. Now living in her Aunt's house with her horribly spoiled cousin and blowhard uncle, Elinor intends on being a model poor relation until her cousin's cruelty toward her pet dragon, Sir Jessamyn, becomes too intolerable to bear. Taking what coin she has, she absconds with the poor dragon only to be hurled face first into a mud puddle by a passing carriage. The bad luck continues when the inhabitants of said carriage turn out to be the premiere dragon scholar of the age and his friend, a handsome but down-on-his-luck gentleman who has come to this part of Britain to woo her spoiled cousin in hopes of securing her great dowry. Despondent and overwhelmed, Elinor makes a wild wish only for it to be granted which sets off a comedy of errors and manners and which threatens not only Elinor's heart but also the future of her whole family.

--

This is a new-to-me author but when I saw the cover I just knew I had to give this book a try, and I am glad I did. It's a fun, fantastical sweet romance in the style of Jane Austen. The book is obviously a play on the classic Sense and Sensibility but it doesn't lift the plot or the characters of the novel wholesale, nor is it a pure Alternate Universe (AU) of the novel. But there are definite call outs to the book, so those people who like a good Jane Austen FanFic with fantastical elements will likely enjoy this novel. 

The story moves very fast, taking place over less than a week's time. But it covers a lot of things. There's a mystery to be solved as well as several plots to be handled. Elinor keeps blundering into situations where she's stuck between a rock and a hard place and often finds herself the subject of blackmail. I didn't dislike Elinor and she's a fun heroine, but at times she seems to be startlingly naive and trusting. 

The hero, Benedict Harper is an absolute good doobie. He's a great romance beta hero who is funny and kind and supportive and also stuck between doing what his heart wants and what is best for his family. I quite liked him. He had depth and he felt like a good foil and counterpart to Elinor. 

There's a few things I didn't love. I wasn't a huge fan of how over the top every other character was. They sort of became caricatures not characters... they were that one dimensional. Additionally, I felt that Elinor and Benedict fell in love a little too quickly.... while the author does hang a lampshade on it, it didn't solve the underlying problem. I'm not the biggest fan of instalove. It's a thing.

I did love the dragon lore and how realistic it felt for Regency ladies to turn dragons into fashion accessories... it felt like the designer dog or exotic bird crazes of the past and present. I enjoyed the mystery although with the small cast of characters, it's pretty easy to see how everything is related.  The writing was engaging and readable, but it did take me a while to get into the book at first (the beginning is a little slow.) 

In all I liked the book and would be interested in reading the next book in the series. But it wasn't a perfect book, so it gets:

Four stars

I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley
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This was a very fun regency romp! I loved the addition of Dragons to a historical romance and the nods to Jane Austen were great.
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This was such a cute book! I was initially slightly skeptical about the premise, but it ended up being adorable. Very Howl's Moving Castle meets Regency Romance. I had a few quibbles - honestly, it was a little too insta-love for my tastes and some of the other characters felt one-dimensional - but the protagonist is great, and it was funny and charming. Recommended for fans of regency romance with cute twists.
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I really wanted to take a little break from horror, and I ran into the author of this book tweeting that it was available for request on Netgalley. Seeing nothing but the title and cover, I already had a pretty good idea that it was something I was likely going to be interested in. With a name like ‘Scales and Sensibility’ I was hoping it was going to be a little Austen-esque rom-com, and that’s exactly what I got. With a few added bonuses, of course.

Psst, one of those added bonuses was dragons.

I love dragons. Give me all the dragon books. Make them scary, make them anthropomorphic, make them little and pocket sized and adorable, making them cute little shoulder-riding accessories of fancy high-class ladies. I’ll take them all. A good book just gets better when you toss dragons into it. Especially if dragons were a recently rediscovered, thought to be fairy tale creature until recently.

This book reads so much like a slightly more fun Jane Austen, it was wonderful. The very first line, “It was a truth universally acknowledged that any young lady without a dragon was doomed to social failure,” so perfectly sets up the tone of this story, I made a too-high squeal of delight when I read it. It was such a genious way to start the book and it was such a great play on a well used Austen quote.

As things start to get going, I started to wonder if there was ‘too much’ going on that couldn’t possibly all be sorted by the time we reached the ending. Elinor just has hardship after hardship, problem after problem, thrust upon her. If I had a complaint, it would be the sheer amount of things Elinor had to juggle.

Despite the many complications going on in Elinor’s life (one of which is being in love with one of her cousin’s potential suitors!), she faces every obstacle with, well, some amount of poise and grace. She is operating in semi-high English society, after all.

This was such a fun read. Even when I was stressed out along with Elinor, I was entertained by the somewhat whacky hijinks she kept getting herself into. It was a light, fun, and quick (for me) read. I’m already considering a reread on it, and I absolutely can’t wait for the next book in the series to come out so I can gorge myself on more cute, funny, regency romance.

I received a copy of this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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An advanced digital readers copy was provided by NetGalley.

“It was a truth universally acknowledged that any young lady without a dragon was doomed to social failure.”

Scales and Sensibility, p1

A delightful regency romance filled with magic, dragons and impending disaster, Scales and Sensibility is a wicked blend of Christies Third Girl mystery and disguise and a clever supernatural homage to Jane Austen.

Exhausted by the tantrums and demands of her spoilt cousin, Elinor rescue’s Penelope’s pet dragon, gathers up her things and turns her back on the family who ‘took her in’ after her parents death.

A chance encounter with the carriage of a handsome stranger and a wish for more sets off a chain of events proving dragons aren’t just a fashion accessory and love is worth more than money.

What I Liked: Elinor was great fun. Sensible of her position in life (so like her namesake) but tired of the selfishness of her Aunt’s family, Elinor sees the chance to change her future and grabs it with both hands. Given the opportunity to be someone else, Elinor forces herself out of her comfort zone and starts speaking, and acting, with confidence, with style and with flair.

Tiny domesticated dragons that drape around your shoulders like a cat! This idea is wonderfully cute and our dragon hero is lovely. Small hints at the history of dragons and their capabilities are dropped leaving you ready for more. Speaking of dropping….I loved watching how Sir Jessamyn’s and Elinor’s affection for each other built his confidence as a reflection of her own growing strength.

What I didn’t like: Considering the title, the dragons in the story were underused – especially considering how pivotal they are to the progression of the story. I wanted more page time with Sir Jessamyn – I wanted to understand how he ticked, which of the fairy tales were correct about the history of dragons, and I wanted to see more of his relationship with Elinor.

Some of the characters were a little two dimensional – the motivation of the villains didn’t really make sense, the penury of Elinor’s family was purely a plot device to place her in her cousin’s home as a setting for her romance – it didn’t really develop naturally and the poncy scam felt too ridiculous to be real.

Conclusion: Three Tregarth sisters, three books. I might have some issues with the plot but I’m still ready to put my hand up and enjoy more Regency Dragons. I had fun reading this and will happily keep reading.
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This is a loose adaptation of a classic made a bit more current by adding a paranormal element.

This is a light story, not a lot of depths to the characters.
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Let me preface this by laying my own biases out for all to see. While I don't tend to mind loose literary adaptations because I love to see new iterations of favorite stories, this one bothered me because it seemed that the only relevant aspect of Sense and Sensibility in the story is Elinor herself, but her characterization left much to be desired. In this version, Elinor's dragon grants her a magic wish that causes her to find self-confidence in the act of imitating it under a glamoured guise. Her journey towards self-expression was greatly accelerated and lost its power by skipping through the growing pains. Elinor became a flattened version of herself who frequently comments on her own famed sensibility even as she does wildly outrageous things. The story also suffered from the loss of a Marianne character as a meaningful foil. Instead, we are left with Penelope: a witless, screeching, spoiled cousin in the role of Obvious and Inept Villain. Our love interest is also a two-dimensional Kind and Devoted Dreamboat with simplistic motivations.

Without strong characters, I don't connect well to works of fiction. To dampen matters further, the plot was predictable and didn't elicit any emotion or even amusement from me. Despite being a regency, there were some weird anachronisms (beyond the obvious dragons) that negated attempts to establish sense of place. That doesn't leave much else to recommend it.
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I don't read many books in the romance genre, but this one has dragons and is set in the Regency period. It is light and fun.
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With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for my ARC. 

I discovered this charming book while browsing titles on Netgalley and was enchanted by the wit and whimsy within. Brimming with magic, including miniature dragons that are the latest fashion accessory for ladies, this rollicking romp was a delight to read. 

I’m looking forward to the next title in the “Regency Dragons” series.
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Dragons, magical wishes, and regency romance.

When Elinor stole her cousin's pet dragon, she didn't have any plans beyond running away from her selfish relatives. On the run from her uncle - who doesn't care about Elinor, he only wants his daughter's expensive dragon back, Elinor makes a desperate wish, and discovers that dragons can perform magic. Disguised as a famous woman, Elinor finds new doors opening up for her, even as her mounting lies dig her deeper into trouble. 

I enjoyed the magic and the story, which was somewhat predictable. The plot followed the standard regency romance drama of a poor girl meeting a handsome young man, both falling in love, but their relationship develops dramatic complications. The fantasy elements here added some nice touches.

I might've enjoyed this more if the handsome young lad in question had more than a mostly flat character, and if the happy young couple had spent more than like a week or two getting to know each other before declaring themselves in love and committing their futures together. Somehow, quick engagements always work out for eternal love and fidelity in these novels, so maybe I'm just being too critical.

The ending wrapped up all the various pieces very nicely. I'm not a fan of blackmail and situations where the characters need to lie, but then have the lie hanging over their heads like a doomsday cloud throughout the story. It just stresses me out, which is the last thing I'm looking for when trying to enjoy a good literary escape.

The book shares a title with Austen's Sense & Sensibility, but other than the period social setting and romantic plot, there weren't many similarities. Which is a good thing, because I prefer a fresh read. 

In all, the book had its good moments, particularly at the end where all the secrets came tumbling out. The women had good character arcs, even from some seemingly minor characters. This wasn't my favorite cup of tea, but I'm sure it will find the right audience with others who appreciate or don't mind the minor issues that I mentioned.
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Scales and Sensibility is the first book of a new series. Regency Dragons is a romantic comedy trilogy involving three orphaned sisters, where the latest fashion accessories are dragons. 

Elinor Tregarth is living off her uncle’s generosity in Hathergill Hall, trying to help her cousin Penelope prepare for her social debut while also cleaning up after the spoiled girl’s new dragon. The beautiful creature was terrified of Penelope, who thought the dragon was as worthless as her orphaned cousin Elinor. Fed up, Elinor packs her bags, rescues the abused dragon, and leaves without a single idea of where to go or what to do. So of course an elegant carriage with a handsome gentleman will knock her off the road and into a water-filled ditch!

Scales and Sensibility is absolutely delightful. I’m looking forward to the second book of the trilogy - Claws and Contrivances - coming in late 2022.
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This was a cute and fluffy comedic retelling of Austen's Regency-era Sense & Sensibility. It does read a bit young for a "romance" in my opinion, but it is still a fun and enjoyable quick read. Unique enough to leave the reader anticipating what might happen next, but comfortingly familiar enough to be a satisfying fix for those of us that adore Jane Austen. Scales and Sensibility is an ideal choice for those that enjoy historical fiction, fantasy, and naturally Regency-era fiction.
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As a lover of Jane Austen novels and dragon books, this book was absolutely fun. I've read Burgis' Harwood Spell books before so I had a sense of what I like about her as a writer. Strong women, lots of humor, inventive plots, and scenery. This new series contains all of that plus dragons!!

I had a great time with this one and I'm looking forward to the sisters' books. Just a slight downgrade for me because I like my Regencies a little spicer and this one is definitely on the sweeter side. 

4.5 stars!
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