The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright is a gem. A delightful Regency romance pared down to its bare bones, this quick read is a perfect of example of what a novella can be and why I love them. There are no machinations, diversions, or distractions. Tessa Dare provides a witty, bright, engaging love story focused entirely on the winning main characters.
Owing to a pubescent scandal, Eliza Cade has been sentenced to wait to enter society until her older sisters are married. Hers is an adventurous spirit and Eliza is clamoring against the wait for her life to begin. Nonetheless, at the age of eighteen, she manages to encounter the scandalous, dissolute, no-good Mr. Harry Wright at a party when he has tucked himself away in a side room waiting for an assignation to begin. Harry takes to Eliza instantly and it is clear they are well matched, but she is too young and he too worldly for anything to come of their undeniable appeal for each other.
The novella proceeds to bounce through their subsequent encounters, some separated by a year or more, as Eliza matures and Harry tries to manage, and eventually succumbs to, his attraction to her. It is never once inappropriate or discomfiting. Rather, it progresses from “I recognize myself in you” and “you are such fun to talk to” towards deeper, mature feelings. The story is entertaining, consistently funny, and absolutely charming, plus it’s only $.99 for your e-reader.
A complete summary of Tessa Dare’s catalogue, with recommendations, can be found here.