This is the first book I’ve read by Shelley Adina and it’s listed with the Literary Escapism blog for the 2013 New Author Challenge.
A Matter of Circumstance and Celludrones
by Claire Robyns
Series: Dark Matters, book 1
Genre: Victorian Steampunk Paranormal
Published by: Claire Robyns, 2012
Synopsis: Lady Lily d’Bulier is prim, proper, and prefers to think of herself as pragmatic rather than timid. And avoiding life-threatening situations at all costs is just plain practical. But everything changes when Lord Adair tracks her down in London; searching for answers he seems to think she has.
Greyston Adair is a blackguard and a smuggler, although British Customs will have to catch him red-handed to prove the latter. Fortunately, the dirigibles they float around in have never been able to get near his air dust.
Hell is rising, One Demon at a Time…
With Lady Ostrich hunting them, and the mystery of how their lives tie back to Cragloden Castle and the powerful McAllister clan, Lily has no option but to throw propriety to the wind and run off with Greyston to Scotland, away from the immediate danger and toward possible answers.
This book starts out conventionally. Maybe it’s a historical romance since it starts with a ball and a viscount, two earls and a marquis are present. Lady Lily is present, but doesn’t count herself as one of the debutantes since she’s already 21. Lily and two of her friends discuss the men present. One of her friends–Evelyn–is married (and a duchess) and since Evelyn’s marriage seems successful Lily decides she’d like to be married, too. She’s looking the men over with that in mind. Her aunt has decided she and Lily will leave for Bath and Lily doesn’t want to go. She wants more freedom than she gets from her aunt:
“…in this day and age, one would think a lady who’d reached the respectable age of twenty-one should be permitted to reside in her own home, with or without the presence of a chaperone.”
“If nothing else, Aunt’s latest whimsical has made up my mind. I’ll never be allowed an ounce of freedom until I acquire a husband.”
“And that’s another thing.” Lily glared her friend down for the interruptions. “What does Aunt Beatrice mean by removing me from London when the season has only just begun? I was holding out for love, not for spinsterhood.”
“I rather think your aunt is achieving exactly what she meant to.”
While Lily is looking around the room for a likely husband she notices someone across the ballroom floor. She has seen him earlier outside her house. He was watching her house, then met up with a woman wearing ostrich feathers for her bonnet (Lady Ostrich) and after he and the woman talked for a few minutes he fainted. Lily doesn’t want to meet him since he seemed so strange.
He is introduced to Lily and her friend Evelyn by Lily’s aunt as Lord Greyston (Grey) Adair. He seems quite taken with Evelyn, Lily’s married friend, and asks her to dance. Lily is left alone with her aunt and suddenly has some sort of vision…the woman with the ostrich plumes is in the vision. We learn this isn’t the first vision Lily has had. She and her aunt had hoped the visions were gone. Thus the book begins the supernatural aspects.
After this the supernatural events begin to occur frequently as Lily, Evelyn and Lord Adair team up, have dangerous encounters with Lady Ostrich, many adventures and travel to Scotland to find answers. Lily discovers pretty much everything about herself she was told by her mother is a lie, but her mother is dead and can’t answer any questions. However, I don’t understand where Lily’s Aunt Beatrice fits into the book. She’s only in the beginning of the book, but I would have thought she knew more about Lily’s past. I don’t think that was addressed in this book.
Her mother died in an explosion in Scotland and it turns out Grey was at the same house party her mother was at. He knows things about her background, but has many secrets of his own. Lily, Evelyn and Grey travel to this estate in Scotland looking for answers. Evelyn goes along as a chaperone for Lily, but also because she is on the outs with her husband (much to her distress). The trip to Scotland doesn’t make that any better. The three of them face personal challenges as well as a great many dangerous situations.
I liked the steampunk elements in the book. The celludrones (like androids or robots) are mostly stupid machines, but somehow Lily and Grey both have very smart celludrones who are their personal servants. They’re important characters and have both unique personalities and useful characteristics. We learn more about their origins later in the book. Evelyn engages in “risque sports” riding things like a Peddapol or air paddler. Her husband objects to this since it’s dangerous and though Lily supports her friend she has to agree this sport seems pretty dangerous.
“Evie, that thing is flying. In the sky.”
Evelyn laughed softly. “What did you think air paddling was?”
“You can paddle air just as well a few inches above the ground while the wheels stay firmly on the the ground,” she retorted through a clenched jaw.
“What would be the point of that?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Lily glared at her. “Not getting yourself killed?”
“It’s no more dangerous than hot air ballooning. You really mustn’t worry so, Lily, I promise you it’s safe. Ah, there’s William with the Pedallosopede.”
The above quote illustrates the differences between Lily (cautious) and Evelyn (bold). The reasons for Lily’s caution is discovered later in the book.
This is a self-published book and I think the author did a good job with the self-published aspects. I also thought it was a pretty good book plot-wise though I did feel a lot of the book was a set-up for the rest of the series. Not a lot is resolved in this book and there are lots of questions at the end of the book. I did buy the next book in the series and plan to read it, but haven’t started it yet.