Thanks to NetGalley and HMH Books For Young Readers for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: May 25th, 2021
Synopsis: In this irreverent regency romp, by New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan, newly minted sixteen-year-old Primrose Ainsworth finds herself on a wayward birthday adventure through London with a mysterious hero—perfect for fans of “My Lady Jane.”
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, Primrose escapes into 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. (Goodreads)
I went into Sixteen Scandals knowing it wasn’t going to be a life-changing, deeply profound read, but was expecting a cute, frothy little escape. Instead, I found it to be puzzling and somewhat annoying.
I liked Primrose and her mysterious love interest, Jacob, but even though there weren’t any graphically passionate scenes between them, I would have been more comfortable if she had been at least a year older. The secondary characters were either frustratingly underdeveloped or utterly reprehensible, particularly Primrose’s mother, who I kept wishing someone would have the gumption to shove out a window.
There were a couple of scenes I felt were inappropriate for the young teen audience this is geared toward. Both take place during Primrose’s rebellious night at the infamous Vauxhall Gardens. One has an unseen couple having a rather amorous encounter, complete with sound effects. The other involves a bear baiting spectacle that was cruel and graphic enough, I had to skip over it.
The ending was okay, but the book was too short with little character or plot development. I’m quite frustrated to tell the truth, because Sixteen Scandals had a lot of potential, especially in regards to gender roles during this time period, but instead, everything was rushed, including a really annoying hint at a possible same sex romance between one of Primrose’s sisters and her best friend, in the last couple of pages. It was as though the author thought “Oh, this is a YA book and I haven’t included any LGBTQ characters so I’d better throw a couple in!” Was Sixteen Scandals the worst YA book I’ve ever read? No, but there are far better series for teens in this genre, such as The Lady Janies series by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows, and Cindy Anstey’s entertaining Regency romances and mysteries. If you have a teen looking for something magical or supernatural mixed in, I recommend the Cecelia and Kate series, by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermere, and the Lady Helen series, by Alison Goodman. And of course, you can’t go wrong with Jane Austen herself.