Steam & Sorcery (Gaslight Chronicles #1) by Cindy Spencer Pape
Sir Merrick Hadrian hunts monsters, both human and supernatural. A Knight of the Order of the Round Table, his use of magick and the technologies of steam power have made him both respected and feared. But his considerable skills are useless in the face of his greatest challenge, guardianship of five unusual children. At a loss, Merrick enlists the aid of a governess.
Miss Caroline Bristol is reluctant to work for a bachelor but she needs a position, and these former street children touch her heart. While she tends to break any mechanical device she touches, it never occurs to her that she might be something more than human. All she knows is that Merrick is the most dangerously attractive man she’s ever met-and out of reach for a mere governess.
When conspiracy threatens to blur the distinction between humans and monsters, Caroline and Merrick must join forces, and the fate of humanity hinges upon their combined skills of steam and sorcery…
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Once again, I am grateful to Carina Press and netGalley for my copy of this e-book. I was thrilled to see it pop up in the netGalley listings since I truly enjoyed Cindy Spencer Pape‘s other two books with Carina: Motor City Fae and Motor City Witch. (You can read my thoughts here and here.) An added bonus? Steam & Sorcery, the first in a new series, is steampunk romance, a genre I have recently become hooked on, thanks to Meljean Brook‘s Iron Seas stories and Gail Carriger‘s Parasol Protectorate books (which truthfully combine more than just steampunk and romance, and have made her one of my must-read authors).
In Steam & Sorcery, there’s steampunk, there’s romance, and like Gail Carriger’s books, there are supernaturals afoot. (I love a transparent title.) On the steamy side, there’s a wonderful romance between our plucky heroine Caroline, a young woman forced to earn a living as a governess after being cast out by her relatives due to her illegitimacy, and our rugged hero Merrick, a Knight of the Order sworn to protect queen and country from all manner of threats. Their chemistry is lovely and the development of their relationship made me smile, particularly Merrick’s tendency to sneak kisses.
The five kids in the story are all great little people. They must have been fun to write since they were so entertaining. My favourite is probably Wink, with her love of gadgetry, but all of them are adorable. Hopefully there will be more of them in future stories!
Cindy Spencer Pape does a great job of incorporating the steampunk and fantasy elements into Steam & Sorcery. They coexist in her world in a way that is authentic and fun. There are lots of little details that add to the steampunk atmosphere, plus there are historical figures like Charles Babbage whose work figures into the storyline in a very organic way. Likewise, the fantastic elements of the story are well thought out. I loved the fact that the Order harkens back to Arthurian legend and that the exposition about the order is incorporated in a way that doesn’t make you feel like you’re being bombarded by history. (The fact that her vampyres stink reminded me of Keri Arthur‘s Riley Jensen books for a quick moment but the two concepts of vampirism are different enough that it was just a passing thought.)
Another story set in this world, Photographs & Phantoms, is being released on the 25th and I look forward to reading that short story in the near future. It’s available for free as a pre-order on the Carina site as I post this but I don’t know how long it will stay that way. Get your copy before it’s too late!