A Little Light Mischief
Cat Sebastian’s A Little Light Mischief is well-characterized, romantic and fun, but has a few bumps and flaws along the way.
Banished from her family, estranged from her abusive vicar father, genteel but down-at-heel Alice Stapleton has her eye on Molly Wilkins, the maid of the woman to whom she acts as a companion. Alice has no idea what to make of the beautiful miss – only that she’s attracted to her, and that she isn’t like any ordinary maid she’s ever met.
Alice doesn’t know how right she is. Molly has lived hand to mouth, an ex-thief trying to stay on the side of good. Now working for an honest wage as a maid, and using the money to support her toddler daughter, Katie, Molly is determined not to go back to her old life, but her old life keeps threatening to emerge and ruin her new one. Molly, too, has been watching Alice, noticing her pride, her kindness, her grey and well-worn clothing. She knows that Alice isn’t accepting the money that kindhearted Mrs. Wraxhall wants to give her, and is determined to find out why.
Alice is tired of being backgrounded by the universe, of tiptoeing through life to keep her father from beating her. The more time she spends with Molly, the more certain she becomes that the woman’s hiding something – and that she likes her. And vice-versa. But then Horace Teapenny surfaces out of Alice’s past with most unfortunate intentions for her, inspiring Alice and Molly alike to seize the world by its guts and turn the tables on it.
A Little Light Mischief has a lot of beautiful details going for it, but its highly compressed page count leaves the reader feeling utterly starved for more – a compliment but also a critique, as in ninety-four pages we get a feel for Alice and Molly, but don’t really live in their skins.
Of the two women, Molly, full of life and attitude. jumps off the page with the most vibrancy. I need more of her – a full-length story, at least – while Alice is purposefully muted, and the story is in a way a process of watching her grow up into an adult.
I loved the little warm touches in their romance; Molly’s admiration for Alice’s embroidery, and her determination to save her stories from the ash-heap where Alice had thrown them. They’re both well-suited to each other, and their chemistry is warm and sassy, but the romance really needed a little more fleshing out to fully sing.
The supporting characters are pretty delightful; Mrs. Wraxhall and Katie were particularly interesting. I will say, though, that our sweaty-palmed villains were a shade flat – paper tigers.
But A Little Light Mischief is worth it for Molly and Alice, for little Katie, and the notion of tiny fairies peeking out of flowers and vicar’s daughters who blackmail.
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