Type: Paranormal Romance-Steampunk
My Copy: Sent
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?
I have a soft spot for Steampunk romances, I love the world that is created, the unusual stories that are written and even the beautiful covers the draw my eyes to these books, Scarlet Devices is the second book in the Steam and Seduction series and I thoroughly enjoyed this addition. Ms. Dryden has created this unique world with interesting characters and twists and turns that keep you reading until the end.
Eliza Hardison is young, just graduated from university and ready to make a difference in the world, she is the youngest member of The Society for the Study and Improvement of Workplace Reform and is out to help those in need. She wants to help those who claim their loved ones have “Gone West” never to be heard from again. And although she thinks she knows the world around her, Charlotte, her cousin’s wife believes Eliza should see the world outside of her privileged life and talks her into entering the Sky and Steam Rally race.
Matthew Pence use to work for Dexter, Eliza’s cousin but has his own business now and is entering the race on behalf of his own company and Dexter has asked him to look after Eliza while they travel to San Francisco. Eliza is apprehensive about traveling with Matthew as she has always resented him, she feels he is always trying to restrict her actions and it shows as he is very disapproving in the beginning of the race. However as they travel through the dangerous country (the United States, called The Dominion in this world) they find they must lean on each other, as they face pirates, illness, sinkholes and even mobs of women who belong to the Foundation Ladies Society for Temperance and Moral Fortitude that hate everything that Eliza represents and let her know it. The danger brings Eliza and Matthew closer as they realize how they feel toward each other, they just must stay alive long enough to have a future.
I love the alternate world that Ms. Dryden has created for the series, things are just familiar enough that you can recognize the place or situation but she tweaks it just a bit. The story has mystery, intrigue, and romance with enough danger to keep you interested.
I love Matthew, he is sweet and smart, although a bit over protective of Eliza in the beginning as he wants to keep her safe. I also like how he grows in the story, from this man who does not think it is safe for her to compete in the race to someone that cheers her on at the end, believing in her. Eliza is living in a time where things are just starting to change for women, but there are still some prejudices and protocol she is expected to follow and I like how she views things. Eliza and Matthew have several years of history together and on this race, they find there is a mutual attraction that they can’t deny.
The race is thrilling and I enjoyed each character and what they bring to the scenes, Cantlebury’s story is interesting with the struggles he has had in life and how he has overcome them, and of course Barnabas and the search for his brother Phineas, one of the “Gone West” missing. I like that Barnabas is featured in the next book as his story is far from finished. Eliza and Matthew’s story has a definite ending however this is a series that has some interwoven stories that will continue into the next book.
The plot is fast paced and although you know who the bad guy is throughout the book there are some definite twists and turns that keep you guessing, I thought things were a bit rushed toward the end, as the group would get away from one danger only to head right back in and the race was treated as the most important thing in the world, but I enjoyed how the ending was had some expected elements. All in all this is a thoroughly enjoyable story for those that enjoy historical romances with some twists and Steampunk that can easily be read as a standalone.
I give Scarlet Devices by Delphine Dryden 4 stars!