A New York Times Notable Book of 2021
“The kind of book for which the word “rollicking” was invented.”—New York Times Book Review
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.
Holton debuts with a delightful alternate-Victorian-era romp replete with swashbuckling, skulduggery, and sly romance. Miss Cecilia Bassingthwaite lives with her great-aunt, a prim, hypochondriac member of the Wisteria Society, comprising only the highest class of lady pirates, all of whom pilot flying battlehouses. When Cecilia is attacked by handsome assassin Ned Lightbourne, she's thrilled maybe now that there's been an attempt on her life, the Society will finally take her seriously. But before she can make her case for promotion to the high tea table, the dastardly, Bront -obsessed Captain Morvath steals one of the Society's battlehouses. Cecilia has a lifetime's worth of trauma to take out on Morvath, but when his next move is to kidnap the entire Wisteria Society, she's quickly in over her head and must rely on Ned's double-crossing help to take her father down. Though the side characters outshine the smitten leads, readers will adore the hilariously courteous combat, social sniping, juicy flirtation, and thorough repudiation of Morvath's cartoonish misogyny. With secret identities, secret doors, and secret histories to spare, this high-octane layer-cake of escapism hits the spot.
Light, clever, and funny. Had me laughing out loud as well as curling my toes. Can’t wait to read the next one!
Stuffy and wild and I LOVED IT
10/10 amazing book!