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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. Like the other members of the Wisteria Society crime sorority, she flies around England drinking tea, blackmailing friends, and acquiring treasure by interesti 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. 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.


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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. Like the other members of the Wisteria Society crime sorority, she flies around England drinking tea, blackmailing friends, and acquiring treasure by interesti 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. 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.

30 review for The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Holly hell, this is way too much entertaining, hilarious, witty to be accompanied by tea and biscuits ( of course I added at least four drops of bourbon into my tea : that’s why I giggle too loud and luckily you cannot hear the ear bleeding villanelle laugh I’m performing!) It’s a great combination of espionage, fairy tal-ish fantasy, smart action, regency romance with very smart and sarcastic sense of humor! Think about a group of multi tasking women who can use weapons expertly as they resume Holly hell, this is way too much entertaining, hilarious, witty to be accompanied by tea and biscuits ( of course I added at least four drops of bourbon into my tea : that’s why I giggle too loud and luckily you cannot hear the ear bleeding villanelle laugh I’m performing!) It’s a great combination of espionage, fairy tal-ish fantasy, smart action, regency romance with very smart and sarcastic sense of humor! Think about a group of multi tasking women who can use weapons expertly as they resume sipping their teas and gossiping about last royalty scandals. And of course they can steal everything in front of your eyes cunningly and adroitly without getting noticed and then taking the direction of their houses to fly them anywhere they want like a skillful pirate captain who controls his ship. Cheers to those ladies! Especially the hilarious opening gave me so much: we’re introduced Cecilia and her aunt are waiting for their luncheon when they hear the bang on the door. Cecilia meets with our tempting chameleon hero disguised like a salesman tries to give her a brochure and after Cecilia’s rejecting, he tries to climb up to their window , telling her the cruel lady Isabella Armitage- long time nemesis of the family and black widow who has brilliant techniques to get rid of her husbands, hired an Italian contract killer to take her life. A few minutes a grenade is thrown at their house and the same man Captain Neil Lightbourne who is also her vicious assassin salutes her with cunning smile. Yes, what an action packed opening! This is very creative, extremely funny , truly gripping and riveting, absolutely enjoyable adventure with thief/ assassin enemies to lovers theme! And i have to admit as a supporting character Pleasance earned entire awards( wait till find out her interesting identity: I think she’s better cook version of myself! ) A bookish, independent, loyal, witty heroine and a hero expert of disguise, keeping secrets, suffering from deep family issues just like our heroine teamed up against the threat of Wisteria Society crime sorority! What a thrilling ride! It was genuinely amazing waltz between different genres and I didn’t expect to have so great time but I truly liked the unique and clever writing experience, hilarious dialogues and surprising world building which earned extra half star from me : so I’m rounding up 4.5 stars to 5 extra funny, feminism vibes, intellectual, sassy, wise stars! Go and read this book, devour cups of teas or just like I did : devour your whiskey and dark chocolate and enjoy your time! This is so good! Special thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for sharing this amazing digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Holly B

    2.5 Not a good match stars I decided to give this new series a try. Love, love the whimsical cover. It appealed to me because of the added whimsy and humor, but it really wasn't a good match. I appreciate the "outside the box" approach of creative fantasy. It is chock full of things such as flying houses, pirates and other elements of magic and fantasy. I'm still asking myself, "What did I just read?" It was certainly a trip, but not one I would venture on in the future. Read all the reviews raving 2.5 Not a good match stars I decided to give this new series a try. Love, love the whimsical cover. It appealed to me because of the added whimsy and humor, but it really wasn't a good match. I appreciate the "outside the box" approach of creative fantasy. It is chock full of things such as flying houses, pirates and other elements of magic and fantasy. I'm still asking myself, "What did I just read?" It was certainly a trip, but not one I would venture on in the future. Read all the reviews raving about it and if fantastical adventures are your thing maybe you'll rave too! Wrong reader here. Thanks to NG and the publisher for my early review copy. OUT as of June 15, 2021

  3. 4 out of 5

    Blackjack

    First and foremost a swoony romance, The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels is also a whimsical, fantasy adventure comedy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, complete with boundless oxymoron, paradoxes, and conundrums as swashbuckling pirates, scoundrels, thieves, and proper Victorian ladies mix it up in a madcap plot that truly has to be experienced first hand. Language lovers will appreciate the witticisms that overflow throughout the book. If there is one mild criticism, it is that the p First and foremost a swoony romance, The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels is also a whimsical, fantasy adventure comedy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, complete with boundless oxymoron, paradoxes, and conundrums as swashbuckling pirates, scoundrels, thieves, and proper Victorian ladies mix it up in a madcap plot that truly has to be experienced first hand. Language lovers will appreciate the witticisms that overflow throughout the book. If there is one mild criticism, it is that the puns and quips are so numerous that I found myself taking a breather from the madcap pace of the book from time to time. This is a book that revels in its highly stylized approach to romance, and I think I never loved the story more than when it was mocking romance genre conventions. I loved the use of meta-fiction that places the writings of the Brontes, Byron, Wordsworth, Longfellow (!), and Keats alongside the characters' desire to live large and always think of themselves as poetic creatures crafting an aesthetic life, even (or especially) as they swindle their way toward prosperity and happiness. Books, reading, and love of all things literary play a predominate role in this story. Cecilia, our heroine, is from a long line of Cecilias, though according to the hero of the book, she is the best Cecilia of them all. She is a first-rate scoundrel and pirate who wants more than anything to take her place alongside the great scoundrel pirate ladies of her family. She has alas though been interning as a pirate for years and has become stalled in her attempt to be awarded a full seat at the table of the Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels. Being the baby of the family, Cecilia has a difficult time convincing her elders she's ready to adult. Since all of the characters in the novel are paradoxes, Cecilia is also a very proper Victorian young lady with upright morals and ethics, which are endless sources of perplexity for a pirate hero trying to court her. Ned Lightbourne (one of his many aliases) is a skilled pirate as well, in addition to being a courtier under Queen Victoria, a member of the secret service, an orphan, an Italian assassin, and a lovely beta hero to Cecilia's own confusing personalities. They meet when Ned is commissioned by one party to rescue her and at the same time by another party to assassinate her. Cecilia feels assured that she too will likely have to assassinate Ned, if only he weren't so good-looking and didn't wear such tight-fitting trousers. Ned in the end is rarely confused about his role in Cecilia's life because he took one look at Cecilia and fell in love. I'm generally not a fan of instant love, but trust me when I say that in this whimsical story, the author makes it work. I will save the outlandish, high speed plot descriptions for readers to experience first-hand themselves. It is, however, a perfectly-plotted cheeky novel. I can't wait to revisit it and I cannot wait to read more from this talented new author. It's early in 2021 but I feel assured to say that The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels will be on my favorite end-of-year list of books.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    So fierce! So feminist! So FUNNY! A romp like no other...two pages in and I was already in love. I can't get over what a barrel of fun this book was. These ladies were drinking tea with one hand and calmly gunning down their enemies with the other, but were never too busy to whomp someone with their razor edged parasol for using the wrong fork at dinner. Transports you to a whole other world quite a bit more proper and fun than ours. Basically, this is the book you'd get if Mark Twain and Jane Au So fierce! So feminist! So FUNNY! A romp like no other...two pages in and I was already in love. I can't get over what a barrel of fun this book was. These ladies were drinking tea with one hand and calmly gunning down their enemies with the other, but were never too busy to whomp someone with their razor edged parasol for using the wrong fork at dinner. Transports you to a whole other world quite a bit more proper and fun than ours. Basically, this is the book you'd get if Mark Twain and Jane Austen teamed up--with a wee bit of whiskey in the tea--to write about lady pirates. Utterly unique and completely charming.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lacey (laceybooklovers)

    This had the potential to be SO great. A lady pirate society with a gun-wielding heroine? An assassin hero who's been hired to kill her but he's also a spy? A hero who's totally gone for the heroine from the moment he sees her? This all would have been perfect for me, but I just could not get into the writing. It's too quirky and all over the place. I could not believe when I read about "flying houses," the characters were literally flying their houses in midair. The concept of the story is intr This had the potential to be SO great. A lady pirate society with a gun-wielding heroine? An assassin hero who's been hired to kill her but he's also a spy? A hero who's totally gone for the heroine from the moment he sees her? This all would have been perfect for me, but I just could not get into the writing. It's too quirky and all over the place. I could not believe when I read about "flying houses," the characters were literally flying their houses in midair. The concept of the story is intriguing and fun and the romance is super cute with all the banter. I even laughed out loud at some parts. But the bizarre way the story is told sadly didn't work for me. I will say though this probably would make for an excellent movie.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Manda Collins

    An enchanting pastiche of historical romance, Victorian fantasy, and worldbuilding all the author's own. India Holton's witty prose had me laughing out loud and the plot kept me turning the pages. With a piratical heroine who would rather be reading and a hero whose many disguises hide a (slightly tarnished) heart of gold, The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels is the perfect diversion for a rainy afternoon with a cup of tea. What fun! An enchanting pastiche of historical romance, Victorian fantasy, and worldbuilding all the author's own. India Holton's witty prose had me laughing out loud and the plot kept me turning the pages. With a piratical heroine who would rather be reading and a hero whose many disguises hide a (slightly tarnished) heart of gold, The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels is the perfect diversion for a rainy afternoon with a cup of tea. What fun!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lisa (Remarkablylisa)

    I might be too harsh but i was not feeling this book at all towards the middle. The book is very zany. Everyone is pulling guns on each other. Our heroine is smart, strong, and capable but she turns into a fool when she's with our hero. Our hero is a flirt and all he wants is to keep kissing her. The characters are always popping in and out of scenes very quickly which makes me have whiplash. And more importantly, their grand adventure of assassination is boring to me. I also did not expect the I might be too harsh but i was not feeling this book at all towards the middle. The book is very zany. Everyone is pulling guns on each other. Our heroine is smart, strong, and capable but she turns into a fool when she's with our hero. Our hero is a flirt and all he wants is to keep kissing her. The characters are always popping in and out of scenes very quickly which makes me have whiplash. And more importantly, their grand adventure of assassination is boring to me. I also did not expect the fantasy elements to it like ghosts lol

  8. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    This book surprised me in the best way! Fantasy. Historical romance. Pirates. Flying houses. It works! There were so many funny moments between all the characters. One scene had me laughing so hard! I honestly can’t believe how much I freaking loved this story. I loved everything about it, seriously, I have nothing bad to say. My favorite book of the year, so far! I will definitely buy a copy when it comes out. I, also, hope that there will be more books. Loved!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Rogers

    Series: Dangerous Damsels #1 Publication Date: 6/15/21 Period: Victorian Number of Pages: 336 ** 2.5 Stars ** The GoodReads blurb for this book made it sound like a fun, entertaining, lighthearted, witty, and exciting read. I could hardly wait to get my hands on either the purchased copy or an ARC – whichever came first. To say I was sorely disappointed would be putting it mildly. Please take this as just one person’s opinion because we all like different things and we all find different things humor Series: Dangerous Damsels #1 Publication Date: 6/15/21 Period: Victorian Number of Pages: 336 ** 2.5 Stars ** The GoodReads blurb for this book made it sound like a fun, entertaining, lighthearted, witty, and exciting read. I could hardly wait to get my hands on either the purchased copy or an ARC – whichever came first. To say I was sorely disappointed would be putting it mildly. Please take this as just one person’s opinion because we all like different things and we all find different things humorous. I’m sure some of you will read the book and love it – I just did not. After reading it, I am of the belief that they need to invent a whole new genre just for this book. I think it was just too much – too much of everything – too busy – it reminded me of some of the descriptions I’ve read from people having LSD trips. If you get rid of the chaff, you have a nice love story. I couldn’t bring myself to like the heroine, Cecilia, but I did like the hero Nate. He was actually the only person in the story I did like. In this alternate/fantasy universe, the members of the Wisteria Society fly their houses from place to place, dislike and disrespect men, love nobody, hire assassins to murder their friends, poison their husbands (or stab them, or …), steal the possessions of others, well, you name it – I sort of thought they were worse than the mafia. Queen Victoria even flies Windsor Castle into battle. I really, really wanted to love this book as much as I loved the book blurb, but I just couldn’t get there. The writing is well done, I loved the author’s way of turning a phrase and the way she handled the internal dialogue, etc. I just couldn’t get into the story or the characters. I am sorry to say that I won’t be looking for further books by this author. I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    DNF at 10% I think this book will probably work for some readers but there was just too much going on for my taste. It's kind of a bizarre mashup of historical romance (I think) with pirates and magic and very silly humor, but written as if it's a play. But in novel form, not script form. Yeah...it's rather strange. I didn't expect when the description mentioned the main character would "fly around London" that I should take that literally. I feel like if you are in the right mood for this kind o DNF at 10% I think this book will probably work for some readers but there was just too much going on for my taste. It's kind of a bizarre mashup of historical romance (I think) with pirates and magic and very silly humor, but written as if it's a play. But in novel form, not script form. Yeah...it's rather strange. I didn't expect when the description mentioned the main character would "fly around London" that I should take that literally. I feel like if you are in the right mood for this kind of book and it's your thing, you may have a good time with it. Unfortunately I don't think it's really my cup of tea so I won't be finishing. The humor wasn't landing for me. It feels like it's trying too hard with things like the excessively lengthy chapter titles. But if this sounds fun to you, other reviewers have been enjoying it, so if it sounds like your thing it may be worth a shot! I received an advance copy for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Whitney Erwin

    The cute cover on this one drew me to but it wasn’t for me! It was too quirky and silly for me. I didn’t like or feel a connection to any of the characters.

  12. 4 out of 5

    PlotTrysts

    An exceptionally enjoyable gaslamp fantasy romance! The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels is a romp from start to finish. The titular Wisteria Society is a loosely affiliated group of women who fly their houses around to carry out acts of piracy. (Yes, they actually use magical incantations to levitate their houses.) They are, however, "Lady Scoundrels," meaning that in addition to theft, breaking and entering, and assassinations, they are also devoted to the rules of society. Our heroine Ceci An exceptionally enjoyable gaslamp fantasy romance! The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels is a romp from start to finish. The titular Wisteria Society is a loosely affiliated group of women who fly their houses around to carry out acts of piracy. (Yes, they actually use magical incantations to levitate their houses.) They are, however, "Lady Scoundrels," meaning that in addition to theft, breaking and entering, and assassinations, they are also devoted to the rules of society. Our heroine Cecilia has been raised by her aunt to become a member of the Wisteria Society... but at 19 she has not yet been promoted to full membership. Our hero Ned has at least 5 alternate identities (we're still not sure which is his "real name"), and we're still not sure of his motivations at the beginning of the novel (at least where they concern Cecilia). Ned and Cecilia are thrown together in all sorts of situations as they go to the rescue of the Wisteria Society on their way to their own particular Happily Ever After. We also want to mention that the style of this book is highly referential to romantic and Victorian authors and poets, so if you are a fan of 1800s literature you will find much to entertain you here! That said, Holton's style is not just a pastiche of other authors. Her whimsical turns of phrase are delightful and will have you chortling while you read. 5-Word Summaries: Laine: A Guide to Pirate Manners. Meg: Pack your poetry & your weaponry. This objective review is based on a complimentary advanced reader copy of the novel.

  13. 5 out of 5

    book bruin

    This book was absolutely nothing like I expected, but it really worked. Readers should be aware that this isn't your typical historical romance. Initially I was confused by the extremely long chapter titles and the magical/fantasy element, but then as I got used to the writing style and world, things started to click. The enemies to lovers trope was done very well, and Cecilia and Ned were wonderful together. Their banter was spot on and I was laughing so hard while reading. The unique cast of c This book was absolutely nothing like I expected, but it really worked. Readers should be aware that this isn't your typical historical romance. Initially I was confused by the extremely long chapter titles and the magical/fantasy element, but then as I got used to the writing style and world, things started to click. The enemies to lovers trope was done very well, and Cecilia and Ned were wonderful together. Their banter was spot on and I was laughing so hard while reading. The unique cast of characters was so colorful and hilarious. I especially loved ever loyal Pleasance. I didn't think that I would find lady pirates, robbery, and attempted assassination so entertaining! The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels was such a clever and imaginative story. It was exciting, empowering, and so funny. I did find some scenes overly descriptive and the pacing a bit slow at times, which made the book feel overly long, but it was a great ride. The ending brought a huge smile to my face and I was so happy that Cecelia finally made it to the library. ;) I can't wait to see where this series goes next. *I voluntarily read an advance review copy of this book*

  14. 5 out of 5

    Chloe Liese

    Thank you to Berkley Romance for the advance review copy. All opinions are my own! Wow! What an adventure. India's creativity and imaginative storytelling made for a deliciously piratical, fantastical romp. It wasn't just set in the Victorian era, it *felt* Victorian. It had so many Victorian easter eggs that my Vic-Lit loving heart leaped with joy to see and my unpracticed brain sighed wistfully for, knowing I was too long out of the lecture room to catch them all. This was stunningly smart and Thank you to Berkley Romance for the advance review copy. All opinions are my own! Wow! What an adventure. India's creativity and imaginative storytelling made for a deliciously piratical, fantastical romp. It wasn't just set in the Victorian era, it *felt* Victorian. It had so many Victorian easter eggs that my Vic-Lit loving heart leaped with joy to see and my unpracticed brain sighed wistfully for, knowing I was too long out of the lecture room to catch them all. This was stunningly smart and clever, with Wildean wit bearing sucker-punch social commentary in sparkling, drolly delivered lines. Complimented with Gilbert and Sullivanesque theatrical action, absurdity, and playfulness, this was truly such fun. If you're looking for something as brilliantly outside the box as it is seductively smart and swoony, The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels is for you!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This is a fantastically madcap alt-19th-century adventure starring a whole bunch of fabulous lady pirates who sail the air in their flying houses, stealing treasure and fighting each other - except when they have to band against their common enemy, a brooding, Brontë-obsessed villain in a looming abbey with a name you'll recognize (in variation-form) if you've read any Jane Austen novels. In other words, if you grew up (as I did!) on 19th-century literature, you'll either adore or be hopelessly d This is a fantastically madcap alt-19th-century adventure starring a whole bunch of fabulous lady pirates who sail the air in their flying houses, stealing treasure and fighting each other - except when they have to band against their common enemy, a brooding, Brontë-obsessed villain in a looming abbey with a name you'll recognize (in variation-form) if you've read any Jane Austen novels. In other words, if you grew up (as I did!) on 19th-century literature, you'll either adore or be hopelessly distracted by the fact that this novel is absolutely packed with literary allusions, with half the throwaway sentences containing either allusions to 19th-century novels or variations upon classic lines from those novels. It's all really wittily and cleverly done, but it IS also a lot, and at the beginning of the book I honestly felt like it was slowing the pacing down a bit and also keeping me from connecting to the characters of this book - as if it were more a parody of 19th-century literature than a novel in its own right. However, once I got a few chapters in and the story got moving, I started really enjoying the book after all, and I read it happily to the end from then on, snickering at several lines and even laughing out loud at a few points that were SO fun. If you're a Gail Carriger fan, you'll enjoy the style of this novel - and any history or fantasy fan will enjoy the fabulous flying houses from the beginning! I loved all the various pirates in this book, and I had a really good time with it overall.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Fanna

    may 26, 2021: rain just shared a single dialogue from this book: "are you ever going to return my heart?" he asked softly." and now I want to read this. may 26, 2021: rain just shared a single dialogue from this book: "are you ever going to return my heart?" he asked softly." and now I want to read this.

  17. 5 out of 5

    sil ♡ the book voyagers

    Ok but this book is really a true enemies to lovers romance where they REALLY REALLY try to kill each other every chance they get lmao. And it was fantastic! The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels is a hilarious historical romance with fantasy elements that definitely would work so well as a film. Cecilia just wants to part of the Wisteria Society and show all those ladies that she's not going to turn evil like her father. Then a dashing, charming pirate knocks on her door, ready to assassinate Ok but this book is really a true enemies to lovers romance where they REALLY REALLY try to kill each other every chance they get lmao. And it was fantastic! The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels is a hilarious historical romance with fantasy elements that definitely would work so well as a film. Cecilia just wants to part of the Wisteria Society and show all those ladies that she's not going to turn evil like her father. Then a dashing, charming pirate knocks on her door, ready to assassinate her. Of course, he falls for her immediately and doesn't know what to do. Their missions and goals make them bump into each other constantly, and when the Wisteria Society ladies are kidnapped, Cecilia thinks it's the perfect opportunity to show them all how good a pirate she is. It's a bit hard to catch up at first with all the different names and things that are happening on-page, but after you know who is who and get a feel of the story and writing, anything else will flow so easily! Cecilia and Ned are really great main characters. It's really interesting to be inside their heads ESPECIALLY when they're together. All these conflicted emotions develop into something really, really good. And let's not talk about the kisses because ooof. It's those kinds of kisses where the tension and pining have been so high, a kiss is bound to happen, you know? Get ready to meet the Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels and their flying houses, some assassination attempts, two or three marriage proposals, a lot of thieves and pirates, and an epic love story. This is a series so I'm excited to see what's next! I want to keep seeing Ned and Cecilia tho lmao.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Emro

    Maybe 2.5 stars. This book was absolutely not what I was expecting based on the blurb provided by the publisher, I was expecting a fun, Victorian romp along the lines of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and I ended up with a Mel Brooks and Monty Phyton Victorian-era fantasy collaboration. I finished this book and my first thought was – what the hell did I just read? Even now, a day later, I am still not sure. Basically, Cecilia is a lady pirate, but not your ordinary pirate, no, she is a junior member of the Maybe 2.5 stars. This book was absolutely not what I was expecting based on the blurb provided by the publisher, I was expecting a fun, Victorian romp along the lines of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and I ended up with a Mel Brooks and Monty Phyton Victorian-era fantasy collaboration. I finished this book and my first thought was – what the hell did I just read? Even now, a day later, I am still not sure. Basically, Cecilia is a lady pirate, but not your ordinary pirate, no, she is a junior member of the Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels – a group of ladies that steal, try to assassinate each other, drink tea and fly their houses (yes, not pirate ships - pirate houses). Cecilia hopes to be made a senior member of the society and is sure that is about to happen since another member has hired an assassin to do her in. Edward “Ned” Lightbourne (AKA Teddy Luxe, AKA Signor de Luca, AKA Major Candent) was hired to kill Cecilia, but that is not really his true purpose – he may or may not be in league with her crazy father or maybe he works for the Queen – either way – he doesn’t really plan to kill her, in fact after meeting her, killing her is the last thing he wants to do. And so starts a very bizarre and at times completely absurd story that left me wondering how in the world this got assigned to the historical romance genre, it is clearly historical, but I would put it in the fantasy genre, rather than romance. Do not get me wrong, the book is well-written, albeit a trifle wordy, and the author has an amazing vocabulary that she puts to good use in this book. But sadly for me, even that was not enough to make me a fan of this book. For me, the romance was lacking, the plot was ridiculous, and will someone please tell me what is up with the recent trend of thinking that feminism and misandry are the same things?? It is hard to buy into a romance when the heroine clearly dislikes men. I didn’t hate this book, but I am not sure I would read another book in this series. *I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own. *

  19. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Powell

    This was very different from anything I’ve read before and I mean that in a good way. It was fun and over the top. However, there were lady pirates and flying houses and all kinds of things that tip it into the fantasy genre, which just isn’t my jam. And the chapter titles were quite bizarre as well, though they did give you a remote idea of what was to come. I think there’ll be loads of people that get a kick out of it. I’m glad I read it so that I can say I did :) This is a fancy prim and prope This was very different from anything I’ve read before and I mean that in a good way. It was fun and over the top. However, there were lady pirates and flying houses and all kinds of things that tip it into the fantasy genre, which just isn’t my jam. And the chapter titles were quite bizarre as well, though they did give you a remote idea of what was to come. I think there’ll be loads of people that get a kick out of it. I’m glad I read it so that I can say I did :) This is a fancy prim and proper world of Victorian times and the women who are coming of age have assassination attempts on their lives and that meandering they’re ready to be introduced to society. You’ll definitely have to step out of reality when reading this, but if you do, you’ll have some fun. Thanks to Berkley Publishers and Netgalley for this Arc in exchange for my review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    eyes.2c

    Historical romance? Really?!! ______2.5 So I’m ok with Steampunk Victorian novels but I realize I’m not fully relating to this quasi-quirky Pirate Victorian romance more in the mode of a Lemony Snicket title, or maybe of Road Dahl gone rogue and let loose in Victorian England, with Quentin Blake illustrations naturally. Is this a Victorian fantasy or something else? We have lady pirates trying to kill each other off, a would be assassin who’d rather write poetry, and escapades involving flying hou Historical romance? Really?!! ______2.5 So I’m ok with Steampunk Victorian novels but I realize I’m not fully relating to this quasi-quirky Pirate Victorian romance more in the mode of a Lemony Snicket title, or maybe of Road Dahl gone rogue and let loose in Victorian England, with Quentin Blake illustrations naturally. Is this a Victorian fantasy or something else? We have lady pirates trying to kill each other off, a would be assassin who’d rather write poetry, and escapades involving flying houses. Have I strayed into a Baba Yaga alternate world, or is this simply a humorous alternative Victorian fantasy romance? Celia Bassingwaite belongs to the Wisteria Society crime sorority. A thief who takes delight in seeking out treasures and obtaining them in less than approved ways. Ned Lightbourne is an assassin working for the deranged Captain Morvath who’s decided to rid the land of forward thinking women, starting with the Wisteria ladies. Not what I’d envisaged when I settled down to read a historical romance. No, this is somewhat more of a satirical /paradoxical romp—maybe! I’m just going to have to do a re-read of this to really come to grips with it’s unorthodox departure from my expectations. At the moment I’m sitting just below the fence. A Berkley Group ARC via NetGalley

  21. 5 out of 5

    Literary Redhead

    I fell in love with India Holton’s whimsical world from that spectacular cover on. And her enchanting story — different from anything I’ve ever read — with lady pirates, flying houses, proper Victorian teas, and menacing male assassins. The writing is so lush that I fell headlong into the tale, grew to love the fantastical characters and swooned over the slow-burn romance. Ahhhhhhhhhh! My fav book so far in 2021. Sequel, please! Netflix film, pretty please! Thanks to the author, Berkley Publishin I fell in love with India Holton’s whimsical world from that spectacular cover on. And her enchanting story — different from anything I’ve ever read — with lady pirates, flying houses, proper Victorian teas, and menacing male assassins. The writing is so lush that I fell headlong into the tale, grew to love the fantastical characters and swooned over the slow-burn romance. Ahhhhhhhhhh! My fav book so far in 2021. Sequel, please! Netflix film, pretty please! Thanks to the author, Berkley Publishing Group, and NetGalley for the ARC; opinions are mine. Pub Date 15 Jun 2021 #TheWisteriaSocietyofLadyScoundrels #NetGalley

  22. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    Thank you so, so much to Berkely and Netgalley for providing me an e-arc copy of this! All thoughts and opinions are still my own. Hands down one of the most unique historical romances I've ever read! This book is quirky, strange, and laugh out loud funny. I honestly loved every moment reading this. I love romance and all of it's sub-generes. But I've read a lot of it, so it is hard to surprise me. But boy did this book surprise me! This mixes low fantasy elements - magic and pirates - with Victo Thank you so, so much to Berkely and Netgalley for providing me an e-arc copy of this! All thoughts and opinions are still my own. Hands down one of the most unique historical romances I've ever read! This book is quirky, strange, and laugh out loud funny. I honestly loved every moment reading this. I love romance and all of it's sub-generes. But I've read a lot of it, so it is hard to surprise me. But boy did this book surprise me! This mixes low fantasy elements - magic and pirates - with Victorian London and a sassy, slow-burn romance. [Just a side-note for you high fantasy fans, this is loose magic. So there is little to no explanation on what it is or how it works.] I was pretty skeptical after chapter 1, I thought there was just no way I could get on board with flying houses. But India Holton proved me SO wrong. It was the perfect level of obscure to make it feel unique yet familiar. The characters read like the pirates we all know and love, just with a twist. And adding in the matriarchal element to the pirates, gave the characters a freedom otherwise unachievable for this time period. And it was brilliant. The juxtaposition of the polite Victorian ladies and pirate culture added an easy humor to the entire book. You can't help but smile picturing a matron in a Victorian gown drinking tea while discussing assassination by canon ball. And on top of all that, the romance elements were wonderful. The characters had loads of chemistry and witty banter. And the slow burn of their romance added a layer of tension to all of their interactions. There's forced proximity, captor/(willing) captive, rivals to lovers, and I'm sure couple of other top-tier tropes I'm currently forgetting. Overall this book just did it all. It's a witty and fresh addition to the genre, all romance readers should have on their radar! I can't wait to read more in this series (I need a book about Alex!!) and more from India Holton in the future!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Hannah B.

    ✨“Explosions (sensual).”✨ The aura of this book is a magically intoxicating blend of The Princess Bride and Wuthering Heights, from the writers of Shrek 3 with a touch of Up, and of course the pen of India Holton. It’s incredible how this one inspired so many memories in me but is still precisely and fearlessly it’s own beautiful thing. Inigo and Wesley sword fighting is exactly how Cecilia and Ned talk to (and also fight) each other. A long line of Cecilias (and a Cilla)? Cathy and Catherine love ✨“Explosions (sensual).”✨ The aura of this book is a magically intoxicating blend of The Princess Bride and Wuthering Heights, from the writers of Shrek 3 with a touch of Up, and of course the pen of India Holton. It’s incredible how this one inspired so many memories in me but is still precisely and fearlessly it’s own beautiful thing. Inigo and Wesley sword fighting is exactly how Cecilia and Ned talk to (and also fight) each other. A long line of Cecilias (and a Cilla)? Cathy and Catherine love the tribute. Frederick and Captain Morvath are such fun additions because they were over-the-top and just so theatrical. Think Prince Charming trying to act in Shrek 3. The lady scoundrels having a “craft-making session” is both the princesses and the fairy tale villains (in the most lovable way possible). The magical floating houses invoke the whimsy of Up. Incredible, smart, vivid prose leaps off the page and lands in a battle stance ready to stab you with a fork, where it will then write you a beautiful poem about your demise. The amount of heart and care that went into the characters is as palpable as it is enchanting; the amount of wit and humor is intoxicating. The entire book is just so goddamn clever. The chapter headers are incredible and also incredibly hilarious. The ending is a true storybook love story and inspired so many potential adjectives I can’t even begin to choose the perfect fit. Ned and Cecilia’s fairytale title would be Beauty and the Blackstocking. Cecilia is gloriously turned on by Ned’s purloining and he’s hopelessly in love with her(s). The romance is slow burn but their chemistry is tantalizing from the beginning. There were little mysteries throughout and the pace never faltered. Here are some of my favorite lines short enough for me to quote: 🏴‍☠️You’re right. I am the ghost of Emily Brontë. 🏴‍☠️Ned silences Cecilia inappropriately. 🏴‍☠️Neither thought for a moment to stop and actually properly talk. 🏴‍☠️Kindly convey our apologies to Olivia. (In modern parlance: “Fuck off.”) 🏴‍☠️If society wanted me to keep track of my illicit lovers, they should have educated me better. 🏴‍☠️So this is merely a romance? Overall, I desperately didn’t want this one to end. I’ve already grown roots pining for the next book. I have a good feeling about Alex. I have such a good feeling about the Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 🌶🌶🌶.75/5 This book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Twice Upon A Book

    Thank you to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Berkley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review CW: death of a parent, violence, mentions of adoption (side character) I would recommend if you're looking for (SPOILERS) -m/f enemies to lovers -historical romance -only one bed -close proximity -a little bit of magic -a society of female pirates -flying houses -slow burn Wow, this book. I have not read something so full of imagination in a long time. I would call this almost fantastical rather than fantasy. A world Thank you to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Berkley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review CW: death of a parent, violence, mentions of adoption (side character) I would recommend if you're looking for (SPOILERS) -m/f enemies to lovers -historical romance -only one bed -close proximity -a little bit of magic -a society of female pirates -flying houses -slow burn Wow, this book. I have not read something so full of imagination in a long time. I would call this almost fantastical rather than fantasy. A world of female pirates, whose ships are their houses. The wit, the banter. This world was fully realized and almost like ours, but not. It was just fun to read. And the flirting between Cecilia and Ned, their literal fighting, the back and forth. It was full of tension and I found myself laughing throughout their interactions wanting to see more of them together. I loved seeing Cecilia find her place amongst her family and the society. And sweet Ned, saw her as independent, not in need of protection, he wanted to be along for the ride as long as he was with her. I adore a hero just gone on the MC. I highly recommend this if you're just looking for something different and fun. Rating: 4.5 Steam: 3 (open door, but almost peeking around the door)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Abbie | nerdyabbie

    Wit & whimsy ensues as you sail with the Wisteria Society through a new, piratical version of Victorian England 🏴‍☠️ A prim and proper lady thief must save her aunt from a crazed pirate and his dangerously charming henchman in this fantastical historical romance. I’ll have to admit, as much as this appealed to me - and as humorous as it was in the beginning - it was a slow start. It just didn’t grip me, so I didn’t finish it. Because of that, I can’t really give an accurate review in that depa Wit & whimsy ensues as you sail with the Wisteria Society through a new, piratical version of Victorian England 🏴‍☠️ A prim and proper lady thief must save her aunt from a crazed pirate and his dangerously charming henchman in this fantastical historical romance. I’ll have to admit, as much as this appealed to me - and as humorous as it was in the beginning - it was a slow start. It just didn’t grip me, so I didn’t finish it. Because of that, I can’t really give an accurate review in that department. However, the bits that I did read were full of wit and whimsy, and so similar and dissimilar to every book I’ve ever read set in Victorian England. The world that the author created was truly one-of-a-kind, and I could totally imagine this as a movie directed by Autumn de Wilde! I just wasn’t in the right mood for this one. I just hope this isn’t the beginnings of a reading slump. One can dream. Big thank you to Berkley Publishing for sending me an ARC copy of this book! Book Breakdown Writing Quality: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ World-Building: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ Characterization: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ Romance: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ Dialogue: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Plot: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ Enjoyment Level: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ 「 Overall: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆」

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    I think it took possibly three or four pages for me to fall completely in love with this book. While I can’t rule out the character’s name as the source of this, it made me think so much of Sorcery & Cecilia, another delightful book that blends magic and humor into historical attitudes. This is high romance in both genre and literary tradition - it is hard to ask for more than a sweet love story and also genteel violence and piracy - but it’s also very funny, full of wit and frankly nothing shor I think it took possibly three or four pages for me to fall completely in love with this book. While I can’t rule out the character’s name as the source of this, it made me think so much of Sorcery & Cecilia, another delightful book that blends magic and humor into historical attitudes. This is high romance in both genre and literary tradition - it is hard to ask for more than a sweet love story and also genteel violence and piracy - but it’s also very funny, full of wit and frankly nothing short of charming. I loved every minute of it. This is my kind of fun.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tracy Banghart

    This book is ridiculous and I loved every second of it. A new favorite.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ashton Reed

    (review originally posted on Under the Covers book blog) ”It is violence that best overcomes hate, vengeance that most certainly heals injury, and a good cup of tea that soothes the most anguished soul”; thus ran the motto of the Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels. Oh my heart. This book is a remarkable piece of literature and a swoonworthy, action-packed, and clever romance I’m honestly going to treasure forever. The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels follows Cecelia Bassingthwaite, a nineteen y (review originally posted on Under the Covers book blog) ”It is violence that best overcomes hate, vengeance that most certainly heals injury, and a good cup of tea that soothes the most anguished soul”; thus ran the motto of the Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels. Oh my heart. This book is a remarkable piece of literature and a swoonworthy, action-packed, and clever romance I’m honestly going to treasure forever. The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels follows Cecelia Bassingthwaite, a nineteen year old girl inspiring to become a senior member of the Wisteria Society: a secret society of lady pirates (of houses, of course - not ships) who love to both pickpocket and heist, who are completely upfront about their crimes and even announce their piracy with a black flag on their homes for complete transparency. They live in a cycle of attempted assassinations and polite theft and tea, and that’s really all Cecelia wants - a place at the senior table. She hopes her lucky break has come when she earns herself an assassin. Finally the ladies of the Wisteria Society may think her worthy of her seat. But that assassin has a charming, roguish smile, a wit as sharp as his various knives, and several names (which depend on who you ask). Which of his personas can she trust? Signor Luca, the assassin? Captain Smith, the agent of the crown sent to protect her? Or Ned Lightbourne, a man with a past determined to uphold a promise? With each day they are thrown together (by circumstances or by fate), they learn to lower their guards and trust each other as partners, even maybe friends - but nothing more. At least, that's what Cecilia keeps telling herself. And as they reluctantly team up to defeat the evil Captain Morvath, they must decide how much they will trust each other - and how far they will allow their relationship to go before they have to say goodbye. ”We are exactly that, Signor. Corsairs, robbers, pirates. I, however, am also a bibliophile, and you are impeding my visit to the library. So either assassinate me now and get it over with, or kindly step aside.” This novel is first and foremost a romance. If you don’t like romance, this may be a bit out of your comfort zone. BUT if you even remotely like romance, this is one hundred percent the book for you! The development of the relationship between Cecelia and Ned is masterfully done; they go from semi-enemies to reluctant partners to I-don’t-understand-my-feelings-for-you-but-they’re-there, and it is utterly heart-warming. There’s all the witty banter you can possibly take and then some, and Ned is the swoon-worthiest of love interests with smirks and charm to make anyone want to be his girl - yet at the same time, their relationship has this purity and sweetness that I absolutely adore, and I am not kidding when I say I could NOT get enough. Although this book is primarily a historical romance (with elements of action, danger, and intrigue), its wit makes it a true stand-out. All the characters are snarky, and there is constant banter between them. But perhaps the greatest aspect of this novel is its tone; it embraces irony and pokes fun at itself, maintaining the light air of a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s got its intense moments, but it's quirky and humorous and never loses its levity. I really truly loved every word of it. So I most definitely recommend this read! The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels is a remarkably clever, action-packed, and charming novel that is going up on my all-time favorites shelf on Goodreads. If you love funny, romantic reads, you will devour this whirlwind of a story! *Disclaimer: I would classify this book as new adult; it contains an explicit sex scene but is sweet and tasteful. I would range this for ages 16+. If you enjoyed this review, you can friend me here on Goodreads and follow me on Instagram/Pinterest @ashton_reads for more bookish content! Thanks for reading!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rida Quraishi

    Ohhh man!!! 😂😂😂 I absolutely love such books where you have to throw "sense/normal thinking" out of the window and just sit back and be entertained. This book!!! It was absolutely hilarious! It was witty, sarcastic, adventurous, and a punch to patriarchy. It is violence that best overcomes hate, vengeance that most certainly heals injury, and a good cup of tea that soothes the most anguished soul"; thus ran the motto of the Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels. Cecilia Bassingwaite and her great Ohhh man!!! 😂😂😂 I absolutely love such books where you have to throw "sense/normal thinking" out of the window and just sit back and be entertained. This book!!! It was absolutely hilarious! It was witty, sarcastic, adventurous, and a punch to patriarchy. It is violence that best overcomes hate, vengeance that most certainly heals injury, and a good cup of tea that soothes the most anguished soul"; thus ran the motto of the Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels. Cecilia Bassingwaite and her great-aunt Ms. Darlington are part of the Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels, which comprises of all the most accomplished pirate ladies who could be stirring their tea with one hand while also pointing a gun at you with other and somehow also managing to rob you of your jewels and possibly your house - if they like it. Ms. Darlington hopes that she's taught Cecelia enough to be a proper lady in thievery, deception, weapon handling and being a sinful scoundrel. And they are given some validation when one day a hired Italian pirate makes an assassination attempt on Cecelia, and she could not have been more elated! 😃 All Cecelia wants in life is to have a cottage full of books, a seat at the Wisteria Society, and a cup of tea. But when her long lost father captures all the ladies of the Wisteria Society and threatens to kill them with his knives or his awful poetry, Cecelia must pick up her skirts, steal a house and try to save the day, without getting captured herself. “You are a scoundrel," she whispered furiously. "Yes," he agreed. "I'm thinking of starting a Society of Gentlemen Scoundrels." "You're millennia too late. It already exists and is called the patriarchy.” I absolutely loved the creativity of the author with this book. How she made houses fly, hid blades and guns under petticoats and skirts, the witty remarks shared between characters, and the action and fight scenes!!! It was all soooo good! And yet, among all these things, she was able to accomplish undeniable chemistry between the two main characters - Cecilia and Ned. It was so much fun to just watch them interact in these pages 😍😍😍 I was gushing and blushing every time they called each other "Temptress", "Libertine", "Rogue" or "Profligate" 😂😂😂 (when you read the book, you'll understand the relevance 😅) Also, kudos to the author for adding in all the mentions of the Bronte family, Charles Darwin, and Austen's characters! Very smart inclusions! Special mention to the side character - Pleasance *wiggles eyebrows* I loved all of you and your ghosts!!! I absolutely LOVED this book and would definitely read more from the series. And if you enjoyed My Lady Jane or Stardust, you'll definitely enjoy this one too! And together they walked into the library.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Aileen

    I would have read 10,000 more pages of this! While the fantasy aspect took a bit to get going for me, the quippy banter between Cecilia and Ned was first rate from page one. I LOVED these two, I loved the pirate aspect, just lots of fun. I can’t remember the last time I smiled this much while reading!

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