London, 1889. Victoria is Queen. Charles Darwin’s son is Prime Minister. And steam is the power that runs the world. At 17, Claire Trevelyan, daughter of Viscount St. Ives, was expected to do nothing more than pour an elegant cup of tea, sew a fine seam, and catch a rich husband. Unfortunately, Claire’s talents lie not in the ballroom, but in the chemistry lab, where things have a regrettable habit of blowing up. When her father gambles the estate on the combustion engine and loses, Claire finds herself down and out on the mean streets of London. But being a young woman of resources and intellect, she turns fortune on its head. It’s not long before a new leader rises in the underworld, known only as the Lady of Devices . . . When she meets Andrew Malvern, a member of the Royal Society of Engineers, she realizes her talents may encompass more than the invention of explosive devices. They may help her realize her dreams and his . . . if they can both stay alive long enough to see that sometimes the closest friendships can trigger the greatest betrayals . . .
I’m going to start this with a heavy dose of honesty. This book is my first foray into the idea of steampunk. I’ve heard a lot about it, I have some friends who are pretty into the genre, but I wasn’t sure it was ‘for me’. I like historical fiction. However, it’s sometimes hard for me to separate that from the idea that there is the possibility of technology that we don’t have and that I will never understand. Even with the explanation of how this technology worked I’m still a but muddled. I’m not too techie. Yes, it’s coal and steam type technology but still, it’s me. If you know me that those two words make total sense as their own sentence. However, the idea of befuddled aside, I really enjoyed this book. The story was engaging and the characters were mostly well developed.
I liked that the story flowed realistically with the time. I also liked that the technology was well explained so as not to leave a newbie to the genre trying to figure out exactly what it all meant. Though that whole balloon thing still has me guessing! (It’s in the story, just roll with me already.) There were a few things I felt were a bit glossed over, however. I get that perhaps it was due to the young adult rating to the story but that again makes me feel like it should have been dealt with more deeply. This is where I put the spoiler alert. Someone dies. Killed. Actually two someones but I digress. The one I’m talking about was not intentional but it was at the hands of a main character. I feel like it was not really dealt with but more ‘here’s this thing that happened, I didn’t mean it, here’s where it takes us and then blam like it never happened’. For a young adult novel I feel like the idea that causing a death, regardless of intent, should not be depicted as something that doesn’t create turmoil within the causer of the death. I think it sets the idea that causing a death is just ‘one of those things’. That really bothered me.
I wish the characters of the children had been better developed. It was easy to forget who was who and not really get attached to them as people due to this. They have to have come from somewhere, banded together for some reason. I’m hoping more of this comes through in future installments. Despite these few things the story was good. It set a good tone and pace through the story. I liked the characters, even the less developed ones, and am grateful for the opportunity to read more of their story and where they go from here.
About Shelley Adina
Shelley Adina is the author of 24 novels published by Harlequin, Warner, and Hachette, and a dozen more published by Moonshell Books, Inc., her own independent press. She writes steampunk, contemporary romance, and young adult fiction, and as Adina Senft, writes women’s fiction set among the Amish and other plain communities. She holds an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania, where she teaches as adjunct faculty. She won the Romance Writers of America RITA Award® for Best Inspirational Novel in 2005, was a finalist in 2006, and in 2009 was a Christy Award finalist. When she’s not writing, Shelley is usually quilting, sewing historical costumes, or hanging out in the garden with her flock of rescued chickens.
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