Stephanie Burgis grew up in East Lansing, Michigan, but now lives in Wales with her husband and two sons, surrounded by mountains, castles and coffee shops. She is the author of eight wildly romantic historical fantasy novels and novellas for adults, including Snowspelled, Scales and Sensibility, and Good Neighbors, as well as nine MG fantasy novels, including The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart and The Raven Heir.

She has had over forty short stories for adults and teens published in various magazines and anthologies and is a graduate of the Clarion West fantasy and science fiction writing workshop.

Stephanie has been a finalist in the Locus Awards twice in different categories, as well as being shortlisted for a British Science Fiction Association award.

Scales and Sensibility by Stephanie Burgis

Sensible, practical Elinor Tregarth really did plan to be the model poor relation when she moved into Hathergill Hall. She certainly never meant to kidnap her awful cousin Penelope's pet dragon. She never expected to fall in love with the shameless – but surprisingly sweet – fortune hunter who came to court Penelope. And she never dreamed that she would have to enter into an outrageous magical charade to save her younger sisters' futures.

However, even the most brilliant scholars of 1817 England still haven't ferreted out all the lurking secrets of rediscovered dragonkind, and even the most sensible of heroines can still make a reckless wish or two when she's pushed. Now Elinor will have to find out just how rash and resourceful she can be when she sets aside all common sense. Maybe, just maybe, she'll even be impractical enough to win her own true love and a happily ever after…with the unpredictable and dangerous "help" of the magical creature who has adopted her.

A frothy Regency rom-com full of pet dragons and magical misadventures, Scales and Sensibility is a full-length novel and the first in a new series of standalone romantic comedies.



  • "Austenesque."

    – The New York Times
  • "Fantasy, comedy and sparkling Regency romance blend together seamlessly... This story is hysterically funny."

    – Books, Bones & Buffy
  • "If you like clever women, magical shenanigans, and that indescribable quality of books that feel like friends the moment you pick them up, then you need to read this one and then put her on your auto-buy list too. This is perfect fluffy, fun fantasy of manners, and I loved every moment. I can't wait for book two!"

    – A Cat, A Book, and a Cup of Tea



Chapter One

It was a truth universally acknowledged that any young lady without a dragon was doomed to social failure. But it was becoming increasingly obvious to everyone in Hathergill Hall that for Penelope Hathergill, actually having a dragon would guarantee disaster.

"Mother!" Penelope's piercing shriek rattled the glass in the chandelier above her. "He's done it again!"

"Oh, dear…" Lady Hathergill closed her eyes and sank back in her chair, waving a limp handkerchief in the general direction of her niece. "Do see to that, won't you, Elinor?"

"Yes, Aunt." Sighing, Elinor folded the mending she'd been working on and rose to help her cousin.

It was a servant's job to clean most messes, but the maids had mutinied several days earlier, and the dour housekeeper, Mrs. Braithwaite—who intimidated even Penelope—had announced that she, too, would give her notice if any of her girls were asked to touch 'that foul creature's mess' again.

And as Penelope herself could never be expected to clean up any of the messes that she caused…

Well, that left Elinor. As usual.

"Please stand still, Penelope," she said, as she wiped at her cousin's back with a handkerchief. "If you want me to get it all off—"

"It's disgusting!" Penelope wriggled impatiently and glared at the brightly-coloured dragon perched on her shoulder. "And it's all your fault. Horrid creature!" With a sudden, impatient gesture she reached up and pushed him off her shoulder.

"Rawk!" His tiny, cobalt-blue wings fluttered uselessly; he tumbled snout over tail, heading straight for the ground.

"Penelope!" Elinor dropped her slime-covered handkerchief and dived for the falling dragon. She grabbed him just in time and gathered him up to her chest, stroking his hot skin consolingly. "What were you thinking? You know his wings were clipped by the breeder. He could have been hurt!"

"He deserves it." Penelope crossed her arms and glared down at him. "He knows perfectly well what he's doing, I can tell. Just before he let it out this time, I heard him laugh out loud."

It hadn't been a laugh; that chortling sound was a sign of fear in dragons. Elinor had read about it when she'd first learned that the family was buying a dragon for Penelope's social début.

But she bit her lip to hold back the angry remark that wanted to escape. There was only so much that a poor relation was allowed to say in this household, especially when it came to her cousin Penelope…and if she let Penelope see the look on her face right now, she would be in real trouble. So instead, she looked down at the dragon who was shivering in her arms.

From the tip of his snout to the end of his tail, Sir Jessamyn Carnavoran Artos was only two feet long, and when he curled up like this against her, he formed a big ball of warmth that felt nearly the same as her old tomcat back home. But his worried golden eyes blinked up at her from a face that glittered such a deep blue and green, his scales looked like precious jewels.

Given her choice of dragon, Penelope had of course chosen the prettiest one she had seen…not the cleverest nor the calmest, which would have been far more useful. It would take a dragon with nerves of pure steel to ride calmly on Penelope's slim shoulder as she alternately shrieked with laughter or with fury and smacked him every time he accidentally slid an inch or let his claws dig into her skin. Elinor's jaw clenched at the thought of it.

If either of Elinor's younger sisters had been there, matters would have gone very differently. Rose would have stood nose-to-nose with Penelope and shrieked directly back at her about her intolerable cruelty to an innocent beast; Harriet would have come up with a mathematically perfect plan to exact revenge.

When their parents had died, though, one year earlier, a flurry of panicked letter-writing had erupted in the extended family. After six months of heated wrangling about whose responsibility they really were, the three Tregarth girls had been scattered to the far corners of Britain to join different sets of relatives. Family or not, no one was willing to take on all three sisters at once.

So that left only Elinor to face their cousin Penelope now, alone and all-too-miserably aware of the practicalities of the situation…as always. It was her lifelong curse.

Rose and Harry wouldn't have let practicalities hold them back; Rose was too romantic and high-minded to care, and as for Harry—well, Elinor was certain that anyone who spent her life mastering higher mathematics simply for her own amusement was incapable of feeling intimidated by Penelope.

Elinor, though, couldn't stop thinking about exactly what would happen if she let loose all the outrage that had been building inside her for the last six months...