Jolly Good Fun
This is the compilation of Shelly Adina’s first four “Lady of Devices” book. 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 …
A South Bank gang—Snouts, Tigg, Jake, 10-year-old twin girls called the Mopsies, Weepin’ Willie, and Rosie the chicken—soon becomes Claire’s flock. But concealing her secret life becomes increasingly difficult, particularly when a powerful lord proposes and she and her friends are forced to flee on an airship to the Americas.
This has been my favorite set of books in the “Steam Punk” genre. Ms. Adina’s characters are fun and likable. One can truly care about Lady Claire and the flock. Her women are especially good – they are accomplished, strong and willing to sacrifice a comfortable life to have achievements. The villains are a bit cardboard cutout but that is a small thing. It can be fun to root for really bad guys.
What I really like is that the devices and actions are driven by science and engineering rather than magic. I prefer practical solutions to the crisis I read about.
There is humor, suspense, and each book ends on an up note. I recommend reading this as unit. One flows to another in the development of the characters.