Release Date: February 4, 2014
Genre: Adult Steampunk
DRIVEN TO WIN.
DRAWN TO LOVE.
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?
Oh Delphine Dryden. You and your hot geeks! No matter what the time period is, you ALWAYS make them so irresistible and so... talented in more ways than one. *wink wink*
SCARLET DEVICES is my second DDryden book and the sequel to Gossamer Wing. The plot is fairly simple, a cross country dirigible race is dangerous to start with, add a competitive heroine , a loyal and persevering hero, opium, influenza, and a crazy drug lord/slave master into the mix and you got yourself an adventure. I do love the fantasy that DDryden presented here, even with tricked out hot air balloons and other gadgets, it still gave that "pioneer" feel if you must. This is still the late 1800's and SCARLET DEVICES managed to capture the motif of that era.
The romance is not as intense as in the previous book but just as sexy. The characters are cool brainiacs with big personalities and can/will certainly stand by their principles. Eliza is some sort of an early feminist and refuses to be cowed by the rules of society. And though a virgin, she did mention her Sapphic experiments in passing not to mention curious conversations about boys and sex. So her daring between the sheets didn't come as a surprise to me. As for Matthew... whew! The man knows his way around the female anatomy but what endeared me to him is his gentlemanly ways and respect for Eliza's modern views. That said their attraction lacked a certain level of passion for me and it didn't transcend beyond the pages. I liked it but I didn't swoon over it.
Aside from the tepid depiction of romance, the suspense part was a tad underwhelming too. There wasn't much guesswork in as far as figuring out who the villain is. The climax didn't make my heart beat fast in fear and worry and the resolution was flat. All I said after the confrontation was: THAT'S IT? Surely there's more!
But despite a few missed marks, I will continue on with Steam & Seduction. I love DDryden's Steampunk America with it's spunky heroines, sexy geek heroes, and unconventional adventures. Also each book can stand on its own as there's no series arc, SCARLET DEVICES is not reliant on the previous installment, and though the characters are related in some ways, Eliza and Matthew's story bears no relation to Charlotte and Dexter. On a final note, I think it's the lack of para-supe elements that's preventing me from totally connecting with the series. I've always struggled with pure fantasy, I've always craved magic and creatures and it's absence in Steam & Seduction is strongly felt.