Everyone has heard the rumors about Mr. Wright. He’s a notorious rake, and not at all appropriate company for Miss Eliza Cade. While she’s old enough to be out in society, her family is convinced that she’ll bring them all down into scandal; so convinced that her three sisters must marry before she can have her first Season. And so, spending time with the very scandalous Mr. Wright is dangerous, leading her right down the path her family worries about, but somehow Eliza just can’t resist.
This novella was simply delightful. I’ll admit to being shallow and mainly buying it because the title was so appealing, but I have read and previously enjoyed a few of Tessa Dare’s full-length novels so it was worth the very small price tag.
Immediately, I was struck by how very clever the writing in this book was. I read it in Kindle format, and the number of “highlighters” – other people marking a passage in a novel as significant – was higher than any I’d ever seen in another romance novel. The author has a habit of sneaking truths in dialogue that catch you off-guard and immediately build character. Take this example that comes from Harry when Eliza suffers grief:
“You’ve seen that all the joy and beauty of the world is fragile. Just bright daubs of paint on the surface of an eggshell. Now you’ll reach for it more cautiously. No more wild grasps at glory. It’s that innocence you’re mourning.”
And from Eliza, at a flirtatious moment:
“It’s a funny thing about suspicions, Mr. Wright. All too often, they’re just vain hopes in disguise.”
Little statements, caught in dialogue, but snatching at truths about life and growing up and understanding these characters.
I loved the way Tessa Dare challenged external assumptions in such a short form. Harry – Mr. Wright – might be deemed scandalous, but why? What does it take to gain that reputation? Similarly, Eliza’s parents are convinced she’ll get into trouble because of something that happened when she was young, but once the reader discovers the reason behind it, we’re compelled to question our assumptions about both characters and revise what we previously thought. They have to do the same with each other throughout the book, and watching them learn one another’s true characters was a real pleasure.
Moreover, the novella format means that we’re focused on just one thing; there aren’t any sideplots and the only other romances are Eliza’s sisters’ in the background. No, here we have a love story between two people who are attracted to one another from the start, but who have to learn a great deal about each other before they can properly fall in love. The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright is wonderful and sigh-worthy, and completely recommended for an evening in. Excuse me while I go gorge on the rest of Tessa Dare’s wonderful books!