Title: Sixteen Scandals
Author: Sophie Jordan
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Published: May 25th, 2021 (HMH BYR)
Synopsis: The youngest of four daughters, Primrose Ainsworth is used to getting lost in the shuffle. But when her parents decide to delay her debut into English society, Prim hatches a plan to go rogue on the night of her sixteenth birthday.
Donning a mask, Prim escapes to the infamous Vauxhall Gardens for one wild night. When her cover is nearly blown, a mysterious stranger intercedes, and Prim finds an unexpected partner in mischief . . . and romance. But when it’s revealed her new ally isn’t who he says he is, her one night of fun may last past dawn.
In this frothy regency romp perfect for fans of Austen-esque flirtation and Shakespearean hijinks, sometimes a little scandal can be a good thing.
Thank you to the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Edelweiss for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Primrose Ainsworth is excited to finally turn sixteen and make her debut in London society. But when her family not only pretty much ignore her special day but also inform her that they will be delaying her introduction until her older sisters are married, Prim decides she has had enough. Determined to make her sixteenth birthday a memorable one, she dons a mask and sneaks out with her best friend Olympia to the notorious Vauxhall Gardens for one fun night before returning to the same boring life as before. The attractions of Vauxhall also hold unexpected dangers however, and the girls are separated soon after they arrive. When things get out of hand, Prim is rescued by a mysterious stranger, Jacob, who takes it upon himself to be her guide around the gardens. But will this one evening of adventure be the only time Prim has or will she get a chance at the life she desires?
While I generally don’t read YA historical fiction, I just couldn’t resist when I saw this one. Books set in the Regency era have always been something of a favourite for me. I’d just finished watching Bridgerton at the time and really needed to read something with the same setting so I ended up reading this back in February (which is pretty unusual since I like to read ARCs no earlier than a month before the release date). Besides, this was a wonderfully light-hearted and fast-paced read to take a break after several heavier fantasy novels. Sixteen Scandals was more or less exactly what I expected it to be – a fun Regency romp. Though it did seem a little childish at times, it was thoroughly entertaining. The quotes from an etiquette book that appeared between chapters were both hilarious and skillfully placed.
I really liked Sophie Jordan’s writing style and the tone of both the story and dialogue felt very era appropriate. Reading about Prim and Jacob’s adventures was fun and they were both great characters, though Prim did occasionally seem too modern in her attitude and opinions. I would have liked to see more of some of the other characters as well, particularly Olympia, who seemed quite interesting. About 99% of this book takes place over the course of one night at Vauxhall, which was not a bad thing, but I felt this book had a lot more potential than was used in this aspect and stretching it out over a longer period of time would have certainly served better.
I wasn’t too happy with the ending however – I’ve grown used to happily ever after endings while reading these kinds of books and while this ending was happy, it was rushed, a bit inconclusive, and also unrealistic for the time period in my opinion. It did leave a thread open for a sequel featuring Olympia and that is one I’d definitely love to read! While not your typical Regency read, Sixteen Scandals would make an excellent introduction to the genre – at the same time, fans of the genre would enjoy this much more carefree approach. Highly recommended!
Sixteen Scandals releases on May 25th, 2021.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
All quotes in this review were taken from an advance reader’s edition and may differ from the final version of the book.
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