Sunday, August 11, 2013

Review: Her Ladyship’s Curse by Lynn Viehl

Her Ladyship’s Curse by Lynn Viehl
Series: Disenchanted & Co., Book 1, Part 1
Publisher: Pocket Star
Genre: Historical Urban Fantasy/Steampunk Her Ladyship’s Curse Cover
Release Date: August 12, 2013
ISBN: 9781476722313
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

In Rumsen, almost everyone believes in magic. Not Charmian Kittredge. As the proprietress of Disenchanted & Co., Kit makes her living by solving crimes others claim to be caused by magic, exposing charlatans and dispelling the supernatural. Though she does her best to avoid the Hill — Rumsen’s closest thing to an aristocracy — Kit finds herself among the blue-blooded once more when she takes Lady Diana Walsh’s case. Someone is carving cruel words into the woman while she sleeps, and it’s not long before Kit learns that the attacks on Lady Walsh are only the tip of the iceberg. A foul plot is afoot in Rumsen, and Kit’s investigation into the Walsh family puts her in more danger than she ever could have imagined. And if that’s not bad enough, the mystery of her ladyship’s curse has put Kit firmly in the path of the one man she desperately tries to avoid: darkly handsome deathmage Lucien Dredmore.

Her Ladyship’s Curse is a stellar beginning to the Disenchanted & Co. series! I devoured Her Ladyship’s Curse in less than a day and was hungry to more, thanks to Lynn Viehl’s top-notch world-building and intriguing characters.

At the heart of Her Ladyship’s Curse is Kit. Our intrepid heroine is loyal, quick-witted, no-nonsense, and not afraid to go against the grain. I adored Kit and found her to be both relatable enough to be a window into the world of Rumsen and different enough to make her an appealing protagonist in and of herself. There’s a lot of Kit’s history that neither she nor readers know, and part of the fun of the story is piecing together the puzzle that is her legacy.

Also a mystery is who’s attacking Lady Diana Walsh and why. What seems to be a simple case at the beginning becomes more complicated than one might expect as Kit delves deeper into her investigation. Her questions and her daily life lead her to cross paths with many interesting characters, chiefly New Scotland Yard Inspector Tommy Doyle and the compelling deathmage Lucien Dredmore. Kit has a past with both men, and man, oh man, does Ms. Viehl leave readers wanting more when it comes to these two very different characters. There’s at least a dozen reasons I’m eager to read the second part of this story, His Lordship Possessed, but learning more about Lucien might just top the list.

The Disenchanted & Co. series is set in Toriana, an alternate-history universe where America lost the Revolutionary War. Geographically speaking, Rumsen (where the action of Her Ladyship’s Curse takes place) is roughly equivalent to San Francisco. Ms. Viehl brings Rumsen to vivid life in this story, giving depth to the world she has created. Toriana isn’t simply America with another name. Socially, economically, technologically, and politically, nineteenth-century Toriana is vastly different from the history we know and the changes Ms. Viehl makes have a huge impact on the story. Add in some magic (which exists, even if Kit doesn’t yet believe), and you’ve got a winning combination for an engaging, original world. I was transported to Toriana by Ms. Viehl’s storytelling and though she infused plenty of her world into the story, I still wanted to learn more because I was utterly fascinated.

Her Ladyship’s Curse is a bit of a difficult book to categorize. The best way I can describe it is to say it’s alternate history, urban fantasy, and steampunk all rolled into one, with a dash of potential romance that provides added intrigue and steam. No matter what you call Her Ladyship’s Curse, it’s a story that’s not to be missed. Fair warning, however, Her Ladyship’s Curse is part one of a book and it does end on a cliffhanger. None of the plot threads are tied up by the end of this story and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be desperate to dive right into part two, His Lordship Possessed (available October 14, 2013).

There’s so much I’d love to say about Her Ladyship’s Curse that I simply can’t for fear of spoiling the story. Suffice it to say that Lynn Viehl takes readers on a spectacularly exciting journey you won’t regret taking.

Note: Her Ladyship’s Curse and His Lordship Possessed will also be sold as one book (Disenchanted & Co.) as of January 28, 2014.