Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina
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 . . .
Lady Claire is plucky and there are few traits that I admire more in a heroine than pluck. I enjoy it when a character doesn’t succumb to their plight and Lady Claire chooses to move forward. She doesn’t wait for a husband or divine intervention. She takes hold of her situation and navigates it just as assuredly as she does her landau. She doesn’t just do it for herself. She meets a gang of children and becomes their leader using her extensive knowledge of chemistry, her wit, and the manners that she mostly took for granted in her old life. She soon begins to change the circumstances of the orphans and herself.
There is a delicate give and take between the band of orphans and Lady Claire. They begin to trust her and her knowledge of the world. She begins to trust them and their potential. Shelley Adina did a great job of creating the children. She balanced their real world concerns with the fact that they were actually children and prone to do childish things. In my opinion this book is worth reading for the Mopsies (the twin girls) alone they’re very entertaining.
Lady Claire is one of those characters that you have to go back and buy the next one in the series even though you can’t read it right away. She is going to have grand adventures you just know it. I for one can’t wait. I immediately went back and bought the box set.
This would also be a great book to introduce anyone to the world of Steampunk. It’s full of inventive devices. The tube system, Mother’s Helper, landau, not to mention that incredible shotgun fit so well into the Victorian era that anyone would be curious how. I can only imagine that the next book is full of Andrew’s improved coal and steam engine. Lady Claire is going to have the best time in his lab. There is a lot of technology in this book and you’ll be so charmed and mesmerized by it you’ll only want more. Did I mention that I immediately went and bought the box set?
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