Book Review : Claws and Contrivances

I received this book for free from Stephanie Burgis in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review : Claws and ContrivancesClaws and Contrivances (Regency Dragons, #2) by Stephanie Burgis
Series: Regency Dragons #2
Published by Five Fathoms Press on July 10, 2023
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five-stars
Source: Stephanie Burgis

Passionate, idealistic Rose Tregarth may have been invited into her uncle's remote home in the heart of Wales as an act of kindness to a poor relation, but it doesn't take her long to realize that her newly-met family members are eccentric, creative, deeply lovable - and in need of all the help they can get. If the crumbling medieval walls of Gogodd Abbey aren't to collapse around their heads at any moment, someone will have to step up and take charge of the situation. Fortunately for all of them, Rose has never lacked in determination.
Add in more and more mysteriously appearing little dragons and a threatening new neighbor who could easily star as the villain in one of her aunt's Gothic novels, and Rose is soon up to her ears in plots and schemes to save all the people and beasts she's come to love...with the help of a sweet, baffled dragon scholar whom Rose has swept into a fake betrothal for purely temporary, practical purposes.
With her fierce, loyal heart, Rose is more than ready to take care of everyone around her, dragons and humans alike. However, it may take an act of true magic to clear her eyes to the future - and the gentleman - she desires for herself.

After being completely and utterly charmed by Scales and Sensibility, I didn’t think the Regency Dragons series could possibly get any better—I was wrong. Claws and Contrivances is a pure and utter delight, brimming with everything readers could want—a wonderful heroine, dragons, a romance, and a magical ending.

 

From the very beginning of the novel, I immediately adored and related to protagonist Rose Tregarth, younger sister of Scales and Sensibility’s Elinor. Rose,  like her elder sister, was foisted upon family relations, the Parrys, after the untimely deaths of her parents. However, unlike the relatives that poor Elinor was forced to suffer, Rose’s aunt, uncle, and cousins are supportive, eccentric, and incredibly loveable. Not having to watch Rose, like Elinor, be abused by her relatives made Claws and Contrivances an even more fun read than its predecessor in the series. Plus, there is a character for every reader to love in this family. The antics of Rose’s cousins, mostly Serena, who has endless enthusiasm for all things gothic, had me laughing out loud. Other readers will surely love Georgiana “Georgie” Parry, who has short hair, a wicked smile, and is more at home in pants than a gown. Beth is the most shy and anxious of the bunch, and quite frankly, a big mood.

 

Rounding out the rest of the family is Rose’s aunt, an ink-covered Gothic novelist perpetually preoccupied with her next plotline, but fiercely devoted to her family, and Rose’s uncle, a scholar of the study of dragons who is honest to a fault. Out of gratitude for the impoverished Parry family taking her into their home, Gogodd Abbey, clever and kind-hearted Rose vows to always protect her relatives, even at the expense of her own well being. She spends a lot of time worrying about how long she can continue to be an imposition on the Parry family and longs to one day find a purpose for herself that will fulfill her, but more importantly, won’t inconvenience anyone else in the slightest.

 

“Rose didn’t know how to solve that problem or even how to remove the pressure of her presence upon it. She only knew one thing for certain how it felt to be lost and surrounded on all sides by strangers, no matter how kind or well-meaning they might be. She would not leave this small creature to feel that fear for long, even if solving its problem required the tiniest bit of recklessness on her part.”*

 

But Rose’s plans for the future go awry when a clearly mistreated dragon appears out of thin air in Gogodd Abbey, with a traumatized friend not far behind. Immediately suspicious of the timing of the dragons’ appearances, Rose hatches a plan to confront her new “ghoul” of a neighbor, Sir Gareth, who has taken up residence in the crumbling house next door. But circumstances spiral out of control and to Rose’s dismay, she ends up unchaperoned in the carriage of her uncle’s esteemed fellow dragon scholar, who is much younger and handsomer than Rose was previously led to believe. To her mortification, this very gentleman will be staying with the Parrys for the foreseeable future in order to assist her uncle with his research. Readers of Scales and Sensibility will recognize the dragon-obsessed Mr. Aubrey at once, but will quickly realize that dragons are no longer the only thing motivating this eligible and (very endearingly), socially awkward bachelor. 

 

But readers both familiar with the series and those brand new to it will delight in unraveling the mysteries surrounding the sudden appearances of the dragons and the disreputable neighbor next door—not to mention Sir Gareth’s mysterious and beautiful ward, Miss Thomas. Though the motives of Miss Thomas and her deepening friendship with Georgie remain unclear, the biggest question is whether the betrothal of convenience between Mr. Aubrey and Rose is quite so false after all.

 

“‘Yes, indeed. Dragons.’ Then he paused, blinking down at her. ‘Do you know, I don’t believe anyone in my entire life has ever before had to ask me to turn my thoughts to dragons? In my experience, people are far more likely to beg me to speak of any other subject.'”

 

I truly enjoyed all of the different plot lines of the story and this enchanting novel effortlessly pulled me right out of a dreaded reading slump. As in the previous novel in the series, the characters and the dragons of Claws and Contrivances are absolutely impossible not to love. The dragons are absolutely adorable, with their own distinctive personalities and abilities, and I think it goes without saying that I would jump at the chance to have one of my own. In general, I still love the whole original premise of this series, this alternate regency England, with dragons as actual pets.

 

But I was invested in not just the dragon or the secrets surrounding them, but also in Rose’s personal journey to find her own self worth in spite of her diminished social standing. I also love how author Stephanie Burgis always manages to make the main romance feel like an added bonus to the heroine’s arc and not like its only defining destination. It’s so refreshing to see romance portrayed as two full people coming together, rather than two halves trying to make a whole. And if the whole fake dating trope weren’t enough to tickle the fancy of readers, there’s also an LGBTQ+ romance among the side characters. 

 

Claws and Contrivances will surely captivate fans of regency England, strong heroines, quirky characters, and sweet love stories. This unique blend of alternate history, fantasy, and romance makes for such a cozy and fun read. I can easily see myself rereading these books again and again. Undoubtedly, I will be looking forward to and reading any and all future installments in the series. I can only hope that if the Regency Dragons series comes to an end in the next entry, with a focus on the remaining Tregarth sister, that the author will choose to revisit this mesmerizing world once more. 

 

*All quotes taken from an ARC and could be subject to change at time of publication.

 

five-stars
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Book Review : Claws and Contrivances - Blogging with Dragons

Posted June 21, 2023 in ARCS, Book Reviews, Dragons, Fantasy, Favorite Books, Romance

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