- File Size: 2631 KB
- Print Length: 486 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Anne Renwick; 8 edition (August 8, 2016)
- Publication Date: August 8, 2016
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01JEU08I0
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,215 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Print List Price:||$15.95|
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The Golden Spider (An Elemental Steampunk Chronicle Book 1) Kindle Edition
|Length: 486 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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- Book 1 of 3 in An Elemental Steampunk Chronicle
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"Steampunk, a mystery, and a romance all rolled together to form a fun and engaging story." A Line From A Book
"The Golden Spider is a delicious treat for fans of gadgets, science, and steampunk romance!" Jen at That's What I'm Talking About
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is a lot more capable than in ours, and steam butlers and maids can
be programmed with "babbage cards" and medicine is oddly advanced,
with artificial ears and eyes which can broadcast and make ideal
equipment for embedded spies. The setting is Britain and the time
is the 1880s, but the social scene seems more Regency than Victorian
(although the only Regency romances I have read are fantasy based).
Victoria is on the scene though, and apparently actively involved
in running agents against the menaces of Germany, Russia and Iceland
(yes). Our heroine here, Lady Amanda (last name forgotten), is a
daughter of the Queen's key Duke, from whom she has blackmailed
permission to enroll in medical school so that he may perfect her
mechanical surgical spider and reweave the nerves in her paralyzed
brother's legs. This permission comes with the caveat that she
must wed within the year. Fortunately her main instructor is
devilishly handsome and is, as it happens, a Queen's agent.
Unfortunately the rules of the school strictly forbid any student/teacher
liaisons, and there are.. other complications.
Though I ended up reading the next book (which follows another
sister), this series just got too "romancey" for me. There is
always some obstacle to the fated pairs declaring their love, and
there is a constant "does he/doesn't he", "does she/doesn't she"
running through the alternating viewpoints which I have very little
patience with. Curiously, despite that, the pair manages to have
sex several times (including one improbably mistimed episode)
without resolving anything.
I won't talk too much about the mystery for fear of blabbing a spoiler. The setting is well-imagined and detailed. I could easily visualize the world Amanda and Thornton move through. At first, I stumbled a bit with kraken in the Thames, then I remembered Asian Carp overwhelming the Mississippi. That said, many of the story's fantastical steampunk elements are grounded in science and are easy leaps for the imagination to take.
It's a great read full of sass and derring-do! Give it a whirl.
The setup: it's a rich steampunk/Victorian world and Renwick writes it well.
The MC Lady Amanda is a great character--she's brilliant, determined and fearless.
The male MC Sebastian Thornton is is also strong, and they make a very combustible couple.
The brother-sister relationships are realisticly complex, as are the parental ones, especially the Duke's with Amanda.
The encounters between gypsy and gadjo cultures felt appropriate and added to the story.
What doesn't work:
The mystery isn't. The identities of the villain and helper are obvious very early in the book, something which drains the life out of the story for me.
There are a few lapses in believability, i.e. one person has met the killer, but no one asks what that person what the killer looks like. Similarly it takes them forever to figure out that it would be a huge help to have a picture of the plant they're desperately seeking but only have a name for.
The sex scenes are set in the worst locations, they happen at very unrealistic times in the story, and Amanda's choices during them often seem very much out of character. For example, Amanda is a virginal Duke's daughter but she recognizes and knows how to apply a contraceptive sheath. Really? How did she learn anything about it? Certainly not from her anatomy books and I doubt either of her parents gave her instructions.
Next, at one point, Amanda and Sebastian are trapped in a warehouse, hiding from a bunch of watchmen who are looking for them. It's a very dangerous situation, so what do they decide to do? They figure it's a fine time to start a heavy kissing session and for Amanda to have her first orgasm. A. How comfortable and relaxing!, and B. Why worry about practicalities like noise when being discovered would just mean both of their lives ruined and Amanda probably raped? How inconsequential!
All the stuff in Sebastian's head about why he doesn't want to think about marriage yet didn't make sense. When it was just a kneejerk response, okay, but when he was still refusing to think about marriage after they slept together, it made no sense at all. Especially when the two of them were contemplating the whole "I'll just make her my mistress"/"He won't marry me so I'll just have a secret sex life with him" thing. In any Victorian time period, that is not a relationship one gets into with (or as) a Duke's daughter, and it was a particularly dumb plan when Amanda's father the Duke is Sebastian's superior. Why did Renwick think it was a plausible option?
The plot/mystery gets wrapped up, but there's no real finish to the relationships in the book. In the final chapters, the Duke's whole family has been socially ruined, something we've been told repeatedly means that no one would ever want to marry any of the children . . . and then in the next chapter, all of them are married or engaged, with no explanations of how they became socially acceptable again. It was one of those "Pouf! the fairy godmother waved her wand, everyone's troubles blew away and they all lived happily ever after."
I hate that. At least make a stab at actually finding some resolution for your characters' problems, because when you treat them as if they were never really problems at all, you've just undermined your whole story.
Over all, however, the story kept my interest, I really liked the setting, Amanda and Sebastian's characters, and Renwick's skill in depicting relationships, so I'll look for another book from her set in the same world.
Top international reviews
My only bug bear is the explicit sex scenes, not because they are explicit but because the heroine is supposed to be Victorian but behaves more like a flower child in 70ies America. For me it made the whole thing jar and took away from the otherwise fun story world. If she had made the heroine a 'Colonial', from America for example instead of the daughter of a Duke it would have ok.
I liked that the hero wasn't perfect and that both were a team, rather than a one up one down relationship - almost at least. When it comes to sex, men are apparently still the heroes......
Mix the steampunk elements with romance, secret agents, foreign spies, betrayal and it makes for an enjoyable read.
This book held me captive from the start, so much so I read it in one sitting.
The book starts with Thornton who works as a spy for the Queen and as a Science professor at Lister University and Mr Black a spy of Gypsy decent.
They are trying to find a murderer who is not only killing Gypsies but experimenting on them also.
Lady Amanda Ravensdale, daughter of the Duke of Avesbury is extremely clever and determined.
Not only enrolled at Lister University, she is also creating a machine to try and help repair to her brother Ned's legs which happened after a dare given by Amanda and their sister Emma went wrong.Guilt is somewhat a running theme in the book with Thornton weighed down with it as well as well as a damaged leg.
The story follows Thornton and Amanda working with others to try and find the murderer before he can strike to close to home.
Well worth a read, and I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.