Her Ladyship’s Curse
by Lynn Viehl
Genre: Historical, Steampunk
Excerpt: Yes | Book Trailer: Yes
Reviewed by: Kate | Source: NetGalley
In a steampunk version of America that lost the Revolutionary War, Charmian (Kit) Kittredge makes her living investigating magic crimes and exposing the frauds behind them. While Kit tries to avoid the nobs of high society, as the proprietor of Disenchanted & Co. she follows mysteries wherever they lead.
Lady Diana Walsh calls on Kit to investigate and dispel the curse she believes responsible for carving hateful words into her own flesh as she sleeps. While Kit doesn’t believe in magic herself, she can’t refuse to help a woman subjected nightly to such vicious assaults. As Kit investigates the Walsh family, she becomes convinced that the attacks on Diana are part of a larger, more ominous plot—one that may involve the lady’s obnoxious husband.
Sleuthing in the city of Rumsen is difficult enough, but soon Kit must also skirt the unwanted attentions of nefarious deathmage Lucien Dredmore and the unwelcome scrutiny of police Chief Inspector Thomas Doyle. Unwilling to surrender to either man’s passion for her, Kit struggles to remain independent as she draws closer to the heart of the mystery. Yet as she learns the truth behind her ladyship’s curse, Kit also uncovers a massive conspiracy that promises to ruin her life—and turn Rumsen into a supernatural battleground from which no one will escape alive.
Set in an imagined America after losing the Revolutionary War, HER LADYSHIP’S CURSE was, while not perfect, definitely original and enjoyable. It was a quick read, with a brave and spunky heroine, and a mystery with so many parts that I can’t even begin to guess how it is going to end. Kit was a great main character- she reminded me a bit of a grown up Nancy Drew, if Nancy Drew had lived in a supernatural version of America. She was very pragmatic, disbelieving in magic, and was very set on figuring out what was behind whatever somebody labeled magic. She figured everything had an answer, just that one may just have to do a little sleuthing to find it. Another aspect I enjoyed were Kit’s strong female friendships, formed early in her life and not abandoned due to the different circumstances her and her friends found themselves in. Both of her close friends were there for her when she needed it, and I really like to see that in books.
HER LADYSHIP’S CURSE almost immediately brought to mind the Parasol Protectorate series. With its quick and witty heroine who seems to negate magic, and the steampunk setting, it is hard to not make comparisons. That said, there are mostly differences between the two, rather than similarities. Viehl’s reimagining of America in a (more or less) steampunk setting had they not won the Revolutionary War was interesting, to say the least. Magic is clearly present, though not completely explained, and there don’t seem to be any other supernatural phenomena, such as vampires or werewolves. The world building tended to be a bit sporadic, and I was a bit confused by some things that seemed to show up without much explanation.
I am very forgiving of things in historical paranormals that I might not be in straight up contemporary urban fantasy, since not only are they set in a time when there were different expectations of people, but they’re also based on a bunch of made up stuff, too. So, while the references to what were clearly Viehl’s version of American Indians may be offensive to some, I read it as part of the world. And though Kit may have disliked the attentions (physical and otherwise) of Lucian Dredmore, the deathmage, I certainly enjoyed their interactions. He was definitely an alpha male- taking what he wanted, in the form of physical contact and kisses, though he didn’t go as far as sex. Those scenes were the type where the lady comes around eventually, which like I said, doesn’t bother me so much, but could be a problem for others.
At a scant 200 pages, you shouldn’t go into HER LADYSHIP’S CURSE expecting a full novel or story arc- especially since together with HIS LORDSHIP POSSESSED it will be published in paperback form sometime next year. As I finished HER LADYSHIP’S CURSE, I knew I had to read the next one, and I very much am hoping for a complete story when they’re combined. The cliffhanger from part one left me with the very clear expectation that we’ll be seeing more of Dredmore and Kit together in the next half, and the mystery is only beginning to unwind. I’m eager for more, and desperately waiting for the next Disenchanted & Co. story.
1. Her Ladyship’s Curse
2. His Lordship Possessed
3. The Clockwork Wolf
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About the author
- Deadly Destinations: Gina Rosati & win AURACLEAugust 8, 2012