Series: Steam and Seduction, Book 2
Genre: Steampunk Romance
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Fresh from university, Eliza Hardison is determined to crusade for workers’ rights until her cousin Dexter, the Makesmith Baron, prevails on her to represent Hardison House in the American Dominion Sky and Steam Rally.
The competition is fierce, but only one opponent really matters to Eliza. Dexter’s protégé, Matthew Pence, was always like a big brother to her. But now she’s grown up, and Matthew has made a break from Hardison House with his own business venture—and made his own entry in the rally.
Matthew intends to win while keeping Eliza safe on the perilous route from New York to San Francisco. As the threats escalate through treacherous skies and uncharted American wilds, though, Eliza and Matthew must work together, discovering a bond deeper than either could have imagined…but is winning the rally more important than winning at love?
It’s a race across the American Dominions in Delphine Dryden’s imaginative Scarlet Devices. This second outing for the Steam and Seduction series features an exciting land and air race with technological wonders that will spark your imagination. As with the first Steam and Seduction story, Gossamer Wing, I greatly enjoyed Ms. Dryden’s alternate history America and her characters’ unique steampunk creations.
At the center of Scarlet Devices are Eliza Hardison and Matthew Pence. Eliza is a Vassar grad with dreams of changing the world. But for all her theories and good intentions, Eliza knows little of the real world. With the encouragement of her cousin and his wife, she breaks out of her comfort zone to participate in the Sky and Steam Rally. I liked Eliza’s intelligence and pluck, and it was interesting to watch her grow as a character over the course of the story. As for Matthew, he’s an inventor with a quick mind and a protective bent. He’s known Eliza all her life and at the request of his friend and former employer (Eliza’s cousin), he plans to watch over Eliza during the rally. I liked Matthew, but he definitely underestimated Eliza and it was nice to see him realize her potential. Eliza and Matthew have a natural chemistry that comes from being lifelong friends, but their romance was the weak point for me in Scarlet Devices. Their romance starts out understated to the extreme and then jarringly goes into high gear – I wish it had been a bit more organic, as it almost felt like an afterthought to the excitement going on around Eliza and Matthew.
A dastardly drug lord villain adds danger to Scarlet Devices, keeping the story moving at a quick clip. Add in some interesting secondary characters and appearances by past and future Steam and Seduction protagonists, and you have a solidly entertaining read. All in all I enjoyed Scarlet Devices and I’m looking forward to reading the next Steam and Seduction novel, Gilded Lily.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.