London, 1889. Victoria is Queen. Charles Darwin's son is Prime Minister. And steam is the power that runs the world.I thought a good way to end steampuk week would be with an independently published book. The colorful cover and curious title caught my eye and so on to the review...
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 . . .
This book reminds me much of a regency romance where the heroine, strong in her brain, does not want to make a good marriage just to breed heirs. She wants to do something with her life and be something more than society allows. Her father is usually absent trying to make a new combustion engine the new big thing. His daughter who is skilled in science knows the folly of such an adventure at this time and tries to sway his opinion back toward the stable energy of steam. After her father's folly and finding herself at the mercy of others, Claire's adventure truly starts to come to fruition. She meets a rag tag bunch of street kids and strikes a bargain. In this bargain she begins to teach them to use their brains to become more honest citizens. She becomes their leader.
Toward the end of the tale we meet again some of her "friends" who turned their back in her time of need. Now she may find out how precarious her social situation becomes. Is she still a lady worthy of marriage? Can she go into her chosen field of study and gain recognition? Will there be love in her future? Love triangle? These questions are left to all of us at the end of the book. Yep. It's a cliffie! However, despite my hatred of cliffies... I will say that I enjoyed Clair's adventures and want to know how she will get herself out of her new predicament. I give this book 4 stars. So, if you want your steampunk with a regency flair... you have found it. This one was fun.