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Webs of Gold and Clockwerk

The Golden Spider Book Cover The Golden Spider
Elemental Web Chronicles #1
Anne Renwick
steampunk, fantasy, historical
Anne Renwick
(11 Aug. 2016)

London papers scream of dirigible attacks, kraken swarms, and lung-clogging, sulfurous fogs. But a rash of gypsy murders barely rates mention. Lady Amanda is tired of having both her intelligence and her work dismissed. After blackmailing her way into medical school, she catches the eye of her anatomy professor from the moment she walks into his lecture hall. Is he interested in her? Or only her invention–a clockwork spider that can spin artificial nerves? Lord Thornton, a prominent neurobiologist, has been betrayed. Secret government technology has been stolen from his laboratory, and a foreign spy is attempting to perfect it via a grisly procedure… using gypsies as test subjects. The last thing he needs is the distraction of a beautiful–and brilliant–new student, even if her spider could heal a deteriorating personal injury. Until her device is stolen and used in the latest murder. Lord Thornton has no option but to bring her into his laboratory as well as the investigation where they must fight their growing, yet forbidden, attraction. Bodies accumulate and fragile bonds are tested as they race across London, trying to catch the spy before it’s too late.

I am just loving SteamPunk (not yet ClockPunk although I hear this is coming to the fore – as I haven’t read any – I think, but new terminology…).

My reasons for loving SteamPunk are varied but – in the novels I have been reading, especially Anne Renwick, there are

  1. Heroines that defy societal norms and coincidentally,
  2. Are also great scientists/engineers/doctors. etc
  3. But also, partly because of the words used in them to describe concepts and inventions:

Acousticocept for instance which clearly starts as:

Acoustic – being the science of sound

CoCept – being concept without the ‘n’.

Newarachnid / Amatiflora / Phaoscope / Myotech

4. Also because they reference Babbage – one of my heroes

and

5. Lady Ada Lovelace – he great mathematician and first computer programmer.

6. And the goth fashion is also great too. Not tat i would wear it myself but I do love the look of it.

There is a great website dedicated to steampunk (.co.uk) which explains the literature, fashion, art and design and some authors to read. If the style of literature is new to you, then do and look at it for inspiration.  apparently even the great houses of couture such as Versace have referenced steampunk in their collections.

FOr me, Anne Renwick writes one of the best set of tales set in steampunk and there are quite a lot to choose from. I like her style of writing and her characters seem genuine and possible.

 

 

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Is Gambling a Vice?

Lord of Vice: Regency Romance Novel Book Cover Lord of Vice: Regency Romance Novel
Rogues to Riches Book 6
Erica Ridley
history, literary fiction, romance, Regency
31 Aug 2018
Kindle

Appearances can be deceiving…

Vice merchant Maxwell Gideon is wickedly handsome, sinfully arrogant, and devilishly ruthless. Rumor has it, his gaming hell has the power to steal souls and grant miracles. Truth is, Max only owns half of The Cloven Hoof. He’d buy out his silent partner if he knew the man’s identity. But it’s hard to focus on business matters when a fallen angel tumbles right into one’s lap…

Miss Bryony Grenville has a well-earned reputation as an unrepentant hoyden. But even the gossipiest of the pinch-faced matrons ruling High Society could never imagine the daughter of a baron secretly financing the ton’s most infamous gambling parlor. Its maddening, sexy proprietor doesn’t suspect a thing… and two can play at temptation!

In the Rogues to Riches historical romance series by USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Erica Ridley, Cinderella stories aren’t just for princesses… Sigh-worthy Regency rogues sweep strong-willed young ladies into whirlwind romance with rollicking adventure.

Well of course Gambling is a Vice and people have been known to lose a fortune and their whole estates at the turn of a card. Hence the proprietor of a Gambling Den in the Regency period might be know as the Lord  of Vice.

But perhaps that isn’t all he is. Perhaps he is egalitarian as to who he admits – to lose money – everyone welcome as long as you can pay.

Erica has chosen a topic here for this latest in her ‘naughty’ Lords series which doesn’t sit well with me. And her heroine helps her ‘Lord’ with her mathematical skills – for which we have to laud her – to work out how to make the most profit from the games of chance. Or that is, how to get people to lose the most cash…

But we do like Max – we have met him before in other books in this series, as he does have another side, which is softer and does help those who have fallen on hard times – and not by gambling!

So Bryony, the final sibling meets her match and also the tenant of her property which gives her a goodly amount of profit – which goes back into her sister’s school. Bad turned into good?

What I like most about Erica Ridley’s books is that she is true to the times. She writes with the ‘correct’ Regency novel phrasing – as invented by Georgette Heyer and attempts to echo the correct speech mannerisms using some phrases and words which were in common use then, but no longer. She accurately reflects some of societal issues and events – as far as is possible whilst writing a modern novel.

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Enter the Con

From Duke Till Dawn Book Cover From Duke Till Dawn
(The London Underground, #1)
Eva Leigh
Regency romance, historical, humour
Mills & Boon
March 26, 2018
384

Eva Leigh launches a seductive new series that sizzles with the dark secrets of London's underworld... 'It's not my habit to seduce impoverished widows...' The Duke of Greyland lost his heart - and a princely sum - to a charming, beautiful and destitute widow who, after one passionate night, vanished without a trace. Cassandra Blair grew up on the city streets, picking pockets to survive. Greyland was a rich mark - to be fleeced and forgotten - only she'd never forgotten him. Years later, chance brings them together again, in a London gaming hell. Grayland is desperate to have her... never suspecting everything about his lover was a lie. But finding herself in dire financial straits, at risk of losing everything, Cassandra has no choice but to beg the man she betrayed for help. The proud Duke will assist her under one condition: she doesn't leave his sight until her debts are paid! But can the real Cassandra - the smart, streetwise survivor - steal his heart all over again? Book one in the Scandalous Ladies of London series

For me this was a generally enjoyable book, but there was one area that I felt let the book down – the sex scenes. They somehow didn’t flow well. It was as though the publisher or editor said ‘we must have some sex in the book’, and the author complied but wasn’t confident or didn’t really like this type of writing.
That said, I thought that the story contained some interesting reflections and reminders about the lot of girls born into the slums. The story told us not only about the hierarchy of the Underworld and criminals but that girls had little choice but to work in brothels and get the ‘pox’ from a very young age,; work in the cotton mills (or similar) and get a lung disease; or learn to be thieves. Remember that the phrase ‘mad as a hatter’ came from the lead poisoning that working in a hat factory brought with it and the subsequent brain deterioration.
So thieving was perhaps the best option for them.
‘Respectable’ trades required references, from scullery maid to shopgirl and unless you had a reference you couldn’t obtain legal work.
The sadness of being dirty, hungry, lice ridden and without belongings was brought out clearly – no belongings because a. you had probably stolen what you had from other, and b. they stole it back…
I felt very much for the female character in this novel and thought that she had made the very best of her sad life.

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Female Astronomers in the 19th Century

The Governess Game Book Cover The Governess Game
(Girl Meets Duke, #2)
Tessa Dare
Regency romance, historical, humour
HQ
August 20, 2018
384

After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud. The ladies of London have tried―and failed―to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart . . . without risking her own.

The infamous rake

Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling . . . and he’s in danger of falling, hard.

This is a really interesting book as not only is it well written it contains, for us in this year of celebrating Women’s Suffrage in the UK, a good reminder that women have been working in scientific fields long before the history books remind us.
Mary Somerville, for instance, born in 1780, was jointly the first of two female astronomers, the other being Caroline Herschel, who were invited to join the Royal Astronomical Society in 1835. Caroline Herschel was awarded their Gold Medal in 1828.
This story brings this science to life and demonstrates the difficulty women had to be taught such sciences and to have a career that matched their intellectual abilities.
We did have a typical love story alongside this of course.

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Enter the first Steam Pump! Ever….

The Steam Pump Jump Book Cover The Steam Pump Jump
The Chronicles of St Mary's Series SS
Jodi Taylor
Historians, action and adventure, sci-fi
Accent Press
(12 July 2018)
Kindle

Not one to let being banged up in Sick Bay stop her, Max has had a brilliant idea. But she needs Markham to execute it on her behalf. The subject of this cunning plan is Peterson, struggling with another bereavement and not doing very well. What’s needed to get him through it is sympathy, sensitivity, tact and understanding.
Step forward Mr Markham, for whom sympathy, sensitivity, etc., are things that happen to other people.
Combine a fanatic from R&D, a head of Security with his own problems, a steam-pump, two historians who can’t even be in the same room as each other, some fractious Protestants and a large body of very dirty water.
Told in Markham’s own words, this is the story of an intervention – St Mary’s style.

Or was it a steam cannon?

steam cannon is a cannon that launches a projectile using only heat and water, or using a ready supply of high-pressure steam from a boiler. The first steam cannon was designed by Archimedes during the Siege of SyracuseLeonardo Da Vinci was also known to have designed one (the Architonnerre). [see Wikipedia]
According to our St Mary’s Chronicles, they wanted to look for a steam pump but its actions was more like a steam cannon, in my mind.. either way, it was a fun thing to go and look at, or so Markham thought.
This is more unusual storyline form Jodi Taylor as it is written from Markham’s viewpoint and in his voice.
I really loved Lingoss’ explanation of why her hair was blue – as someone whose hair is purple and some people have failed to mention it, or apparently notice until it is pointed out to them! i do wonder who the teacher was she talks about. I’m sure that they will be mentioned in future stories as we have a lot of characters at St Mary’s we still know little about and how they came to be there.
After all, History has many years of exploration that can be taken.
So yes, the best laid plans of mice and men, especially when Markham is involved, don’t always work as intended.
A great addition to the series.

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