23 Nov '11
A Nix Review – Victorian Scoundrel by Stephanie Burkhart (4 Stars)
Alice and Edward Windsor travel back in time to 1851, to find their Great-Great-Grandfather Prince Albert at the time of his Great Exhibition. Mindful that Edward is up to mischief, Alice has to follow her errant cousin back in time, to try to minimise the ripple effects from his time spent in the past. Upon arrival, it becomes clear that Edward is determined to leave much more than a fingerprint in time, his obsession with introducing his distant relative to the flying machine driving him to do something stupid. However, Alice finds herself with another problem in the shape of the Grayson Kentfield. The hunky Lord finds himself fascinated with the lovely, if not slightly quirky, Alice and sets out to see if he can ignite their already simmering chemistry. Can Alice stop her cousin from leaving a dinosaur sized footprint in the past at the same time as trying not to give her heart to a man from the past? The Prime-minister of the time is very suspicious of the motives of the strangers who apparently appear from thin air; will they manage to escape back to 2011 without arousing everyone’s suspicion as to why they are there?
This one is a difficult one for me to review but I’m going to try. I will warn you, there will be spoilers but hopefully not monstrous ones. This isn’t my first steam-punk novel, but I did particularly enjoy this one. Steam punk has always been explained to me as a historical novel with one thing out of time; a kind of “What-if” novel if you like (e.g. what if there were cars in the 1600’s). I particularly enjoyed that the thing that was “out-of-time” were Alice and Edward themselves. Both characters were fun and what was enjoyable was the contrast between them. Alice was a little fussy and straight laced whereas Edward was the loveable rogue who was completely oblivious as to the consequence of his actions. The banter between them was very sibling like and fun to read; I love reading family relationships such as this one and it gave the novella a nice taste of humour.
There are two main relationships that develop over the course of the novella although I will admit that only one actually caught my attention. Grayson Kentfield sounded like a scrummy mix of modern thinking man and dashing gentleman. He saw the lovely Alice outside the Palace and she caught his eye immediately. She stood out to him because she was wearing 2011 garb but she kept his attention with her personality. The way that he chose to court her, honestly and with respect to her feelings, was really quite sweet and I truly wanted them to work. The first time he took her for a walk (I know, how sweet :D) and kissed her, I got warm and fuzzy feelings. My only issue with him was the way that he kept trying to make her glasses off, but it didn’t annoy me as much as the constant references to her Dyslexia and how it affected her. Her disability really had no bearing on the story and this meant that the numerous references just felt odd and out of place; maybe it will have a purpose in book two and I shall be forced to eat my words 😀 The sex scenes were few but very sweet which seemed fitting for the time. The secondary relationship between Kiera and Edward really didn’t develop enough for me to care for much for them in this story; through never really seeing anything from her POV in the story, I felt that she got lost in the tale. I can tell already that she will feature quite heavily in the next story, so I will probably care more about them then.
I have only one complaint about this story but I can’t really mention what it is without giving away a ginormous spoiler. There is a particular development in the story that everyone accepts without a second blink. Throughout this story, everyone from the 1800’s is very accepting of things that should seem strange to them in that time. I know it enabled the story to flow better, but I felt there should have been more conflict and bewilderment about the holes in the stories the main characters have to tell to explain away their sudden appearance at the Palace. Maybe it’s just me being fussy, but it was all far too easy!
Overall, a fun and breezy read that really doesn’t take itself seriously. With sweet and funny characters, the tale was enjoyable and engaging. A fantastic edition to the steam-punk genre….bring on book two 🙂