Friday, July 4, 2014

Gilded Lily by Delphine Dryden

The Basics:
Gilded Lily by Delphine Dryden
Book Three in the Steam and Seduction series.
Steampunk, Romance
Published July 1, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Why I picked up this book:

I grabbed the first two in the series on a whim from Chapters (gorgeous, steampunk covers, I had to) and I loved them. I was *beyond thrilled* when I saw this come up as an opportunity on NetGalley

Book Blurb:


Frederique Murcheson’s introduction into society hasn’t gone smoothly—some would even call it a disaster. Only Freddie considers her debut a success. Her scheme to become a makesmith has gone off flawlessly. The only thing that could upset her plans now would be if someone discovered that brilliant tinker Fred Merchant is, in fact, a lady in disguise.

Wooing a spoiled heiress is not exactly Barnabas Smith-Grenville’s idea of high espionage. However, considering his brother disappeared on the job, supposedly into the most iniquitous of opium dens, he cannot expect much better. At least the assignment will afford him time to search for his brother, whom he suspects is in spy-related trouble rather than a drug-addled haze.

But when Freddie proves to be both irresistible and the key to the answers he seeks, Barnabas finds himself not only entwined in a scandalous mystery involving lethal submersibles and deranged dirigibles, but also in a dangerous game of the heart…

My thoughts:

Joy! Bliss! Steampunk heaven! 

I liked it, can you tell?  

Gilded Lily, while admittedly not without its problems, was so much fun to read. I sank right into this book and only surfaced when my children demanded food or refereeing. 

So much fun!

What did I enjoy? The banter between Freddie and Barnabas. The flailing of the baddie. The looming threat of Freddie's dad. The ways that this book fit so flawlessly into the narrative that Dryden's created with the earlier books in the series.

Freddie and Barnabas are quite a match. She's all fire and action and ability and he's possibly the most ineffective hero I've read... ever... who still seemed like a great character. You see, Freddie loves machines. She's got an aptitude for reading them, figuring out what makes them tick, taking them apart and putting them back to together. But as an heiress, it's not really 'the thing' to be a makesmith, so she leads a double life. When she wants something, she goes for it. She's got few qualms about taking off on an adventure, even when it might be dangerous. This woman's got capable written all over.

Barnabas, on the other hand, is coming off a failure in the American Dominion Sky and Air Rally (though really, he had the flu, so it's not entirely his fault). He's been searching for his younger brother, Phineas, who went off the radar with an alleged opium addiction. Recruited to be a spy because he's so very unremarkable, Barnabas manages to flail his way through this book providing support for Freddie and...well.  Well. Somehow he worked because I didn't really notice until I put the book down that he didn't contribute a *ton* to the story. He's smart, don't get me wrong, and he's willing to go on Freddie's adventures. He was endearing, though not my favorite steampunk hero, but still, an excellent foil for Freddie.

It's not a perfect book - don't get me wrong. If you prefer your heroes to have some more obvious strengths, Barnabas isn't likely to do it for you (though he's so earnest that I really hope he grows on you if you read it!). The villain is also not as, perhaps, menacing as he could have been. There's some business around his gang that on the one hand was kind of cool and on the other was kind of... too neat?

On the steamy scenes front, this book had, I think, fewer moments than the previous books in the series, but there's one in particular when there's no actual... well, you know... but it's... wow. I mean really wow - off the charts wow. And, I thought, a very natural and realistic progression towards intimacy - some experimentation beforehand.

So, so good. 

Now, I have to assume that Sophie and Phineas will be the subject of the next novel in the series, and I look forward to that one. Phineas intrigues me - he's obviously rough and tumble and he's got a chip on his shoulder, not to mention his eye injury. But I'm hoping Sophie will bring out a softer side, as well as some really protective, possessive behaviour.

Bottom line:

I loved this book. It was fun to read, it was easy to sink deep down into and this is a world that I don't ever want to have to leave. I'll be back for number four, whenever it comes, whoever it features.

Also, I must, must, must read everything else Dryden has ever written. Just saying.

5 stars
For fans of steampunk, romance, women who know machines, cephalopods.

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