The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr Wright by Tessa Dare
Avon Impulse 2012
Let me start by exclaiming in delight over that title. Is that not a fantastic title? That is a fantastic title.
In such a short space, Dare managed to get me very invested and very emotional while not sacrificing credibility or character development. I call this a very well executed novella indeed.
Eliza Cade is not allowed out in society until her sisters are married, and while hiding in a room adjoining her family’s ballroom she encounters Harry Wright, the notorious no-good wastrel. They have Words, and she departs annoyed, he vaguely amused, and that is to be that. Except of course it is not; they meet again a year later and from there develop a more solid acquaintance.
I did not initially like Harry. His behaviour is disrespectful and patronising in the beginning, and I was ready to disapprove of him very strongly throughout, because how much can you do in some hundred pages? Well, quite a lot, as it turns out, and poor Harry got my heart by halfway. Eliza, in turn, is a fairly standard Regency heroine, I would say – not a weakling, but with her faults and vulnerabilities. I don’t entirely buy how well Harry seems to know her on very brief acquaintance, but I’m willing to allow that in a novella and within romance conventions. It is making a point in very limited number of words, and that, in my books, is acceptable even if it’s not perfect.
Plot-wise, surprisingly eventful and twisty! Dare even took me by surprise on especially one occasion, but I will not spoil it. Point is, this is quite a rollercoaster, and I recommend it for an afternoon you have time to just have a cup of tea (and forget about it until it’s gone cold and icky) and plough through this. It’s a little hard to put down once you start.
Four stars out of five, as this is not the best thing I’ve read by Dare nor the absolute best that could have been done with this story in this format, but such a pleasure nonetheless. This is also a standalone, I should point out, so if you’re unfamiliar with Dare’s style this is not the worst starting point (although I would still recommend starting with one of her full-length novels).