Review: The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels (Dangerous Damsels #1) by India Holton

A historical romance with pirates, sassy ladies, dashing heroes, assassins, and all the tea? Ummm yes yes yes please! I needed little persuading when it came to reviewing this one. I was so excited for this hot new historical romance and I cracked my ARC open instantly! This one has been on so many top anticipated lists this summer and clearly it was also on mine!

I am always looking for historical romances that have funny plots and snappy dialogues, not to mention charming heroes so this one sounded like a great place to start. But truth be told, I have been in a reading funk lately and I was hoping this would be the book that would pull me out of the funk. But as with many big hype books, there is always that fear that the book won’t live up to the hype. So I went into this one hoping it would live up to the hype, but also aware that it might not.

When I started this one, I was drawn in but also admittedly—–lost. Ok you ask—-lost in a good way or in a bad way? Well friends, that’s a complicated question.


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. (summary from Goodreads)


This book was billed as a historical romance with pirates and assassins. Well it did have all those things so how in the world was I lost in this one? Well, what wasn’t mentioned was that they were pirates of flying houses. I had no idea I had signed on the read a fantasy historical fiction pirate romance mashup. But my response—-F*^%k YES! This was the mashup I didn’t know I needed until I had it in my hands. I was admittedly a little confused at the beginning and trying to navigate the world, but once it was clear that there was a fantasy element to the story, I felt like I finally had my bearings.

I think it’s important for readers to be aware that this book isn’t a conventional historical romance, would I still have read this book had I known it was this unique fantasy historical romance mash up—-yes. In fact I wish I had known that before hand because I spent the first 15% of the book wondering what in the world I was reading. That’s not to say that it wasn’t entertaining—because it was! The characters distinguished themselves right away and I found myself laughing multiple times with the charming dialogue between Cecilia and Ned. It was a great meet cute and I adored their chemistry. I just couldn’t understand why houses were flying. Eventually I just has to go with it and keep reading.

The story was a little odd-bally and weird but I did find it unique and entertaining and that’s what made this one standout—-it’s weirdness. I thought Cecilia as a main character was exciting and she brought a lot of strength and wit to the story. Then having Ned as the hero was sweet and comical. I loved his character the most I think. His charm won me over and I really enjoyed how he stole the show in just about every scene. If you love rom-coms and the enemies to lovers troupe but want something different than your standard historical romance, then you need this book. Its quirky and weird and everything you never knew you needed in a story.

But that said, I think it needs to be marketed a little differently. It is put out as more historical romance than what it really is and while it is that, it’s more like Princess Bride than standard Victorian romance.

Book Info and Rating

Format 336 pages, Paperback

Expected publication June 15, 2021 by Berkley Books

ISBN9780593200162 (ISBN10: 0593200160)

Free review copy provided by publisher, Berkley Books, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 4 stars

Genre: historical romance, fantasy


4 thoughts on “Review: The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels (Dangerous Damsels #1) by India Holton

  1. Oh! Thanks for letting me know. I’m going to take this off my wish list RIGHT now. I do NOT care for fantasy. Pooh… I so liked the sound of this to begin with. Shame that they didn’t let us know it was fantasy.

  2. Beautiful review!! This has been on my radar for a while so thank you for the heads up!! I was going to go in blind and just knowing that it was a historical fiction and I’m glad to see this is something different! 🥰

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