Cover Image: Scales and Sensibility

Scales and Sensibility

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Member Reviews

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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In 1817 England, dragons were rediscovered. Elinor Tregarth moved to Hathergill Hall and accidentally took her cousin's pet dragon and fell in love with the fortune hunter courting Penelope. Though she was always the sensible one, she must be resourceful when participating in an outrageous magical charade to save her younger sisters' futures.

This is Sense and Sensibility with dragons! As in, Elinor as the poor relations had to put up with Penelope, and when she reached her limit after six months with Penelope's poor treatment of her pet dragon, Elinor shouted at her and took off. The self-centered Penelope sees everything that doesn't go her way as an insult and affront to her innocence, even when she and her two friends are far from it. Elinor goes through an elaborate scheme to help Penelope with the help of her dragon to avoid her uncle writing to the relatives taking care of her two younger sisters, even though she can't her cousin. On top of that, some people determine the truth about her altered appearance, and the wishes she makes with her dragon have consequences she could never foresee.

Scales and Sensibility is an adorable Regency romance with a dash of magic. We still have the rules and responsibilities of titled gentry with class and gender role differences, with magic to offset some of the hardships Elinor would have otherwise. As a romance novel, we know that the problems will resolve somehow by the end, and I enjoyed how it all played out. There will be stories in this world involving Elinor's two sisters in the future, and I hope they're as fun as this one was.
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Scales and Sensibility is a fun, whimsical, charming story blending Georgette Heyer-esque Regency romantic hijinks (mistaken identities! Blackmailing scoundrels! A plucky heroine!) with the magic of a fairy tale. Unlike in so many similarly hijinksy, deception-heavy stories, though, the plot actually does hang together, and never felt unbelievable (okay, granted, wish-granting dragon, but you know, aside from that). A delightful and amusing read, and I’m looking forward to the continuation of the series!

Thank you to NetGalley and Five Fathoms Press for the advance review copy!
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This magical Regency rom com is an absolute treat – fun, witty, and featuring one very adorable dragon! 

I’m a huge fan of Stephanie Burgis – her stories always seem to fill exactly the kind of niches I’ve always wanted to read. After loving her Regency fantasy Harwood Spellbook series (you can find my review of Moontangled here!), I was really excited to see what her new series would be like, and I’m pleased to say that while it’s tonally fairly different, it’s just as delightful. If I hadn’t been interrupted, I would have raced through the whole of Scales and Sensibility in one sitting – it’s exactly the kind of fluffy, fun fantasy I adore!

Elinor Tregarth is a fabulous heroine, one whom it’s easy to sympathise with as she deals with her awful family, and whom it’s even easier to root for as she learns to stand up for herself. And Elinor isn’t the only character I loved – pretty much all of them are wonderful, even the ones you love to hate! Benedict Hawkins, the love interest, is the perfect swoonsome Regency hero, and while it would have been easy for bratty Penelope to be irritatingly one-note, she’s actually very entertaining, as are the various other quirky members of her houseparty, who range from amusing to dangerous. One of my favourite side characters was Mr Aubrey, a scholar of dragons who’s so intently focused on his work he barely notices the world around him – he provides plenty of comic relief, but is also very interesting in himself. I hope we see more of him in the future! Of course, it would be wrong of me not to mention the very best character of all – Sir Jessamyn, the dragon, who is completely adorable and wonderful. Reading this book will make you want a pet shoulder dragon.

I really loved the themes of self-confidence throughout the book, and how Elinor learns to act in her own interests only when she’s given the opportunity to literally act like she isn’t herself. There can be a real freedom in deciding not to care about other people’s opinions of you, but it’s not easy to get to a position where you can do that, for fear of causing trouble or breaking relationships. The magical aspect here allows Elinor an unexpected opportunity to be someone she’s always admired, someone who stands for no nonsense, but even for those of us who have no dragons to help, emulating someone who has the qualities you want can be a powerful tool, and I really enjoyed how this theme of re-invention played out both with Elinor, and with her aunt (on which no spoilers, but a quick mention that her character has a fantastic subplot – and actually mentions the menopause as a catalyst for change, which is awesome to see!). Perhaps I’m armchair philosophising, but after lockdown, I think a lot of us are realising we need to make active choices to make our lives better, and this book perfectly encapsulates the fraughtness of deciding to make scary changes, and the relief when you discover it’s working.

Oh, this is just a delicious read. Stephanie Burgis is an auto-buy author for me, and if you like clever women, magical shenanigans, and that indescribable quality of books that feel like friends the moment you pick them up, then you need to read this one and then put her on your auto-buy list too. This is perfect fluffy, fun fantasy of manners, and I loved every moment. I can’t wait for book two!
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4.5 stars. 
Stephanie Burgis has crafted a delightful Regency-based story, riffing on Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility” and “Mansfield Park”, and made everything that much better by adding dragons. Not the majestic, huge creatures I usually think of, but iguana-sized, beautifully coloured, and magical creatures that ladies of the ton keep perched on their shoulders as the ultimate fashion accessory.
Elinor Tregarth is a poor, and mostly despised relation of her rich and beautiful cousin Penelope. And the only reason she’s despised is that the utterly self-absorbed Penelope can’t abide being told “no” or to moderate her behaviour, both of which Elinor is frequently guilty of urging her cousin to do. When one day Penelope goes too far and shoves her poor, frightened young dragon off her shoulder, Elinor has had it. She might be nearly penniless, but she will not stand for any more abuse from Penelope, or to the defenceless dragon Sir Jessamyn. Elinor packs her meagre possessions, perches the dragon on her shoulder, and marches off, determined to make her way in the world on her own, and hopes to, at some point, see her two, equally impoverished younger sisters again. They’re both living separately with other relatives—the family was split up after the sudden deaths of their parents, who were rendered penniless by a pair of grifters shortly before their untimely deaths.
Barely started on her escape, Elinor encounters a young, attractive man who  literally knocks her off her feet and renders her truly penniless when her few shillings are lost.
When Elinor makes a wish that Sir Jessamyn  acts on and is transformed, a series of fun hijinks ensue and we get a fun mix of marriage plot (this is a Regency romance, after all!), disguises, blackmail, thievery, discussions of theoretical versus actual dragons, and an Elinor  stressed beyond belief, who also, wonderfully, finds her voice and romance. The story is fun from start to finish, and I can’t wait for the next sister’s story in this world.

Thank you to Netgalley and Five Fathoms Press fir this ARC in exchange for my review.
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This is a book that was not at all for me, but other people will like much more than I did. I wanted to like it. It’s an homage to Jane Austen, but with magic and dragons. The things I didn’t like are mostly your mileage may vary kinds of things. I find stories in which the protagonist tells an easily discovered lie or is engaged in a three racoons in a trench coat kind of disguise very stressful.

Elinor Tregarth is living with her aunt, uncle and cousin as the poor relation. Her cousin, Penelope, has no redeeming qualities. Penelope has a dragon, to whom she is unkind, and is getting ready for her debut. Elinor runs afoul of her cousin and uncle over the treatment of the dragon and ends up marching away with the dragon and no prospects of hope for the future. She is promptly knocked into a muddy ditch by a carriage containing Benedict Hawkins, and his scholarly friend Mr. Aubrey. Through a series of events, Elinor ends up back at her cousin’s house, with everyone thinking she is a grand society matron. Except for the people who figure out she is not, and then blackmail her.

Everything works out in the end of course. I did enjoy Sir Jessamyn, the dragon. I just wish there had been significantly less deception and blackmail. Elinor has to juggle a lot of blackmail, plus keeping her brutish uncle happy enough that he not torpedo her younger siblings lives. It was stressful!

I received this as an advance reader copy from NetGalley. My opinions are my own.
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This book was lovely.  Elinor is a poor relation, a cousin sent to live with her aunt, uncle and their very spoiled daughter Penelope when she loses her parents.  When an argument sends Elinor out the door with only her cousin's dragon as a companion she finds herself out in the world to try to make her way with only her wits and a dragon's magic to help her along.  This was in interesting book with a very upstairs/downstairs feel.  The magical elements were an interesting concept and Sir Jessamyn was the star of the show.
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I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would.
There is a little something for everyone in this Regency rom-com. We have dragons, magic, horrible relatives, blackmail and of course romance. This is a fun read and will keep you entertained throughout.
I have never read this author before but I will be sure to pick up some of her other books.
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I’ve been on a bit of a fantasy of manners kick recently, so it was perfect timing for me to be approved for an ARC of Scales and Sensibility. I’ve previously read and enjoyed Burgis’ Harwood Spellbook series, where my main complaint was that I wished each entry was longer, so I was super thrilled to see her writing a longer book in this new series.

Thankfully, it was delightful as I hoped. I haven’t read all of Jane Austen’s catalogue, but while I’m sure there are plenty of easter eggs for those who have, it’s certainly not necessary to enjoy this book. It’s not so much a retelling of Sense and Sensibility as a homage to all of Austen’s books and the regency genre as a whole. The plot is fairly basic – Elinor Tregarth essentially plays the Cinderella to her awful cousin Penelope, but with the help of her fairy godmother friendly dragon companion, Sir Jessamyn, begins to find a way to express her true worth. But, like all good regency stories, it delights in the absurdity of poor Elinor’s situation, and is filled with tongue in cheek moments of brevity and humour. There’s also a well-rounded supporting cast; I wouldn’t call them all likeable, but they feel very real and it’s fun to watch Elinor negotiate her way around each of them in turn.

If I have any criticisms, it’s that the romance wasn’t hugely compelling – the romantic lead felt the least developed all of all the characters and the resolution to this particular plot arc was rather rushed. It’s also a book that relies in part on Elinor’s emotional connection to her sisters, whom she is avowed to protect but whom we never meet (in this instalment), so some of her decisions don’t resonate as much as they could. But that’s largely offset by the sheer delight and hilarity that the rest of the book brings – I thoroughly enjoyed this one.
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As usual: I got this advanced copy for free through Netgalley in exchange for a fair review.
This was a short and sweet romance novel. Now, I don't talk about it a lot but I've a healthy obsession for Jane Austen's books. I may or may not own even some obscure adaptations. I've watched the 1995 miniseries (you know the one!) way too many times. So you give me a regency romance clearly inspired by the Lady, and I have to get it. And fantasy is also the main genre that I read. Mix the two and I'm one happy reader indeed.

I do have certain expectations when I open a regency novel, but Burgis met and exceeded them all. I like even my historical male love interests to be respectful and not sexist: check. I like my characters witty, and some amount of social commentary: check and check. I like historical accuracy to some extent, and even if dragons make that point kinda moot, I enjoyed the fact that she had small details like, oh, chamberpots hidden behind the scenes for ladies to relieve themselves during parties, to cite only my favourite. It was witty, and fun, and full of horrible people for us and the heroine to make fun of.

The whole concept gave me quite a bit of secondhand embarrassment, to be quite honest. Elinor's dragon puts her in some embarrassing situations, or she walks right into them. But it was the kind that I was able to laugh at, and not be too embarrassed to continue reading. I also saw the "plot twist" at the end coming, but in a satisfying way. Let us say I was reminded of certain characters in Mansfield Park...

The romance itself was very sweet. It was pretty quick, but I'm a person who crushes easily so I can appreciate that in a good story, and it worked with the fast pace of the novel overall. Besides, I really rooted for the two of them in general, against all the awful people around.

Honourable mention goes to Mrs Hathergill, without spoilers I can honestly say I want to be her when I grow up!

Anyways, I could not stop from about halfway through to the end, and I kicked my feet in excitement at the ending, like a little child with a present, so that should tell you how much I liked it. I want more stories like this, fun and light, but with that backdrop of social commentary that makes regency novels so great. And dragons!
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Stephanie Burgis’ new series, Regency Dragons, gets a delightful start in Scales and Sensibility. Its a regency romance with added fantasy elements, dragons and magic, and the two sides go together seamlessly to create a world that feels natural.

Elinor Tregarth lives the dreary life of a poor relative in her aunt and uncle’s manor after her parents died and left her and her two sisters penniless. Constantly bullied by her cousin Penelope, she finally snaps and leaves the house without a penny, but with Penelope’s pet dragon Sir Jessamyn.

Her position untenable, she makes an ardent wish to be exactly like a society matron, Mrs. De Lacey—and her dragon makes it happen! A game of masquerade ensues, where she tries to maintain her pretense among people who are becoming increasingly suspicious of her. She soon finds herself in deep trouble from many quarters.

To make matters worse—or better—Benedict Hawkins, a penniless suitor of Penelope, likes to spend time with Elinor instead. But how is she to let her feelings grow when she isn’t who he thinks—and he needs a fortune to save his estate and family.

Tension rises to almost unbearable before everything is solved and a happy ending can be declared.

This was a charming, well-written historical romance that was maybe a little lighter on the romance than I would’ve wished, but there was plenty of other things to keep my interest. Elinor was an excellent heroine, Benedict was a slightly distant but wonderfully suitable hero, and all the villains were perfectly villainous. But the book was stolen by Sir Jessamyn, the timid dragon who ended up changing Elinor’s life for good. A wonderful start to a series. I will definitely want to read more.
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This is a sweet and fun story, with a lot of charm. Liked it very much..

Thanks to NetGalley and Five Fathoms Press for providing me with an eARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.
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First of all, thank you so much to NetGalley and Five Fathoms Press for providing this ARC. 

As a relatively new romance reader I'm trying out most subgenres to see what type of romance fits me best, and as an avid fantasyreader having the opportunity to read a romance with dragons in seemed like something that would work wonderfully.

Elinor Tregarth are recently orphaned and seperated from her two sisters as they all were taken in by different relations. Now being something like a maid for her spoilt cousin Penelope she's struggling to remain calm an positive. One day Penelope pushes Elinor a step to far and Elinor packs her bags and leaves the home together with her cousin's pet dragon. She doesn't get far before everything gets complicated, a handsome, kind gentleman and some magic is involved and it's all a bit more than Elinor expected. 

I do belive that as readers we are often expected to accept a meassure of exaggeration, be it character personalities or events happening. But for me personally this was a little bit to much for me to accept. There is a slight element of magic and our main character Elinor goes under a disguise for the most part of the book. However I think that Burgis took the characters actions a step too far. Elinor goes disguised at her relatives home and even though they've not paid much attention to her during the six months she lived with them, I still find it hard to believe that she would not be found out. 

The loveinterest spent little more than one conversation  with Elinor and is suddenly in love. Attraction and interest at first sight is something I can buy into, but declaring love at once, no. To keep it short, all characters were extremes, the author seems to have wanted to do too many things in too short a story. Instalove, very specific and just convienient magic, an undercover operation, a blackmail plot, it all just felt like it was too much. 

However, if you want a fast book with a bit of romance that's not heavy on the steam, cute dragons who put their owners in awkward positions and you don't mind having muliple plotstrings all going very fast then I can see this book as something quick and easy to consume on maybe a vacation or as a palett cleanser.
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Scales and Sensibility is the first in a new fantasy regency romance trilogy by author Stephanie Burgis.  The novel was originally serialized as part of Burgis' patreon, but is now coming out in full for purchase to other readers this October.  I've very much enjoyed what I've read of Burgis in the past, most notably her Harwood Spellbook series of fantasy romances (also sort of Regency-esque)* which played with some fun inversions of gender tropes even as it dealt with heroines trying desperately to get both romance and magic in a world that ties to constrict them to one or the other.  

*Those romances are fairly chaste - you may get an implication that sex has occurred off page, but that's about it, with the most you'll get on page being kisses, so if you're looking for steamy pages, you're in the wrong place.*

And Scales and Sensibility is pretty much exactly what I expect, and what I would want, from a Stephanie Burgis novel.  There's a really enjoyable heroine in Elinor, a young woman whose family (her and her two sisters will each be the protagonists of these novels) was ruined and who thus now finds herself forced to live with her spoiled brat cousin and her selfish dominating uncle.  There's a fun dragon who rests on her shoulder, and may possess a bit of magic.  And there's blackmail, scandal, and romance, all leading to a conclusion that is very satisfying.  It may not be something that is super unique, but if you're looking for not too serious enjoyable regency romance with a slight fantasy twist, Scales and Sensibility will give you everything you are asking for.  
---------------------------------------------------Plot Summary------------------------------------------------------
Elinor Tregath was always the shy and proper one of the three Tregarth sisters.  And so when her parents die, and her father unexpectedly leaves her impoverished due to a bad business gamble, she decides she is going to be the perfect adopted relative of the family who takes her in - her Uncle John, her Aunt, and her cousin Penelope.  Except her cousin Penelope is a spoiled brat - beautiful, but spoiled, jealous and cruel - and her uncle John is a dominating bore, who keeps his wife from having any opinions and caters to his daughter's every whim.  Until one day, Elinor cannot take it anymore, and she takes Penelope's pet dragon - who Penelope cannot control or care for - and walks out.  

But Elinor's attempt at walking out is interrupted by a handsome young man, who helps her unnecessarily, and is everything she could dream of.  But that man is desperate for money to save his family, and has thus come courting Penelope, so there's no future there for her either.  Elinor is left only to wish she could be someone else entirely....a wish to which her dragon reacts quite strangely.  

Soon Elinor finds herself looking like someone else, a Lady renowned of high society, and finds herself returning to her Uncle's manor in that guise hoping somehow to find a way forward in all this mess.  But disguised as she is, Elinor will still have to deal with her horrible relatives, a man who she wants but can't quite have, and other unexpected horrors of high society.  

Not even a magical dragon could allow Elinor to cut through this tangle....or could it?  
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Scales and Sensibility begins with a premise that should feel incredibly familiar to fans of Regency Romance.  You have the young woman with supposedly plain features, who is impoverished and forced to rely on the good graces of a beautiful but horrible other woman - who is about to debut in society no less.  You have the love interest who comes for the beautiful woman...and who has reasons to want to Court her even if she is absolutely awful.  And as the book goes on, you have other features straight out of other regency novels - the lady who steals things and then blames servants for her misdeeds, the rival suiter and his sketchy sister who is desperate to obtain secrets....they are all here.  And these features are classic for a reason, and Burgis weaves them together incredibly well.  

What Burgis definitely adds of course is magic, in the form of tiny dragons that rest on ladies' shoulders (it's the fashion, you know), one of which has actual literal magic of a kind that I won't completely spoil.  And so Elinor isn't just pretending to be someone else for much of the book, she literally looks like that other person.  And so she's forced to maintain that illusion by acting braver and rasher than she normally does - which is hard because unlike her sisters, Elinor was always the demurring respectful one.  She's incredibly easy to like especially as she almost always chooses the most selfless option over all the others, even if that results in making things harder....and so when her own actions lead to disaster and bad things for others, even those who don't deserve it, she can't help herself but want to do something to take it all back.  Needless to say this leads to a lot of plot turns, as Elinor finds herself caught between innocent servants, greedy and spoiled ladies and lords, and her own desires.  

The rest of the cast here is all solid, even if they somewhat do correspond to archetypes.  While Elinor's horrid cousin Penelope is such an archetype, her degree of awfulness and the things she'll try to do are particularly awful and well done to make her a truly hatable antagonist - the same is true of Uncle John.  Love interest Benedict is a real charmer - at first I worried he was going to be too good to be true, but that's not Burgis' game here: he's a real good guy who falls for Elinor far before she realizes it, but who is in his own difficult situation from the start that prevents him from ever running away with her.  Benedict's friend, a pompous dragon scholar, is kind of funny and adds flavor, and the two scheming siblings who also have eyes on Penelope make excellent side antagonists.  None of it is unique, but it is all done really well and leads to an enjoyable and magic conclusion.  

So yeah, I'll probably be back for the rest of these novels, particularly for the sister who's a mathematics nerd (cmon that just appeals to me).  Burgis' work never fails to please, and this is no exception.
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"It was a truth universally acknowledged that any young lady without a dragon was doomed to social failure". With this homage to Jane Austen's novels starts "Scales and Sensibility", Stephanie Burgis' new novel, where regency romance meets dragons.
The main character, Elinor, finds herself orphaned and living as a poor relative in her aunt and uncle's house. She tries to make the best of a bad situation, but unable to stand being mistreated, she escapes with only her cousin's dragon for company.
She swears to never come back, however due to some circumstances she has to return there, but this time she is in a position of power. Will that make her happy?
I loved this form the beginning to the end, and I am looking forward to the next book!
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