Type: M/M, Steampunk Romance
ARC provided by the author
Available at Amazon
Reviewed by 2shay
When Captain Rafe Lancaster is invalided out of the Britannic Imperium’s Aero Corps after crashing his aerofighter during the Second Boer War, his eyesight is damaged permanently, and his career as a fighter pilot is over. Returning to Londinium in late November 1899, he’s lost the skies he loved, has no place in a society ruled by an elite oligarchy of powerful Houses, and is hard up, homeless, and in desperate need of a new direction in life.
Everything changes when he buys a coffeehouse near the Britannic Imperium Museum in Bloomsbury, the haunt of Aegyptologists. For the first time in years, Rafe is free to be himself. In a city powered by luminiferous aether and phlogiston, and where powerful men use House assassins to target their rivals, Rafe must navigate dangerous politics, deal with a jealous and possessive ex-lover, learn to make the best coffee in Londinium, and fend off murder and kidnap attempts before he can find happiness with the man he loves.
Okay, Ladies and Gentlemen! This is a brand new experience for me. No, not the m/m, I love gay romance. And certainly not the reading part, I do that every day…it’s my passion. It’s the steampunk part that is new to me. As eclectic as my reading tends to be, I have never read this genre. It. Was. Fascinating!
Beginning in November of 1899, the story is historical…with a few additions. Those additions make this read like a contemporary romantic suspense with characters who are imbued with all the old style manners and grace of the Victorian Era. Beautifully written by the uber-talented Ms. Anna Butler, she had me quickly immersed in a world enhanced with cars and planes and weapons that didn’t exist at the time, with technology that doesn’t exist today.
One of the most fascinating “additions”, to me, was the weapons. Powered by an aether chamber, with a strand of phlogiston twisting through it, they can deliver a lethal “shot” or a less lethal, but very painful, neurological blow. It might look a bit like this illustration, but not exactly. They have bigger, rifle size versions as well. Don’t ask me how this works, just go with it and enjoy the story. Their cars, airplanes and other conveniences are powered by the same technology.
You’ll have to forgive me for going on so about “steampunk” technology, When I can promise that the characters are just as engaging as the world Ms. Butler has created. I want to put Rafe in my pocket and keep him forever. He is one of the few truly honest characters in a world full of people looking for their next advantage. Keep in mind that Rafe is gay at a time and place where that was unacceptable, and could get you killed. He describes himself to others as a “confirmed bachelor”. There is a fairly small population of confirmed bachelors in Londinium who meet at several clubs, the most popular, if you have enough money for the dues, is Margrethe’s. This fancy “gentlemen’s” club is where Rafe meets two men…one who makes his life hell and another who makes it heaven.
There are many other great characters who make Londinium and Rafe’s coffee house flow with laughter and good fellowship as well as mystery, intrigue and danger. ***I want to say that there are a couple of pretty explicit sex scenes between men. If that prospect doesn’t appeal to you, this might not be for you. I want you to understand that Anna Butler writes beautiful sex scenes. They aren’t over done, crass or kinky. And when Rafe is with the right man, they are tender, sweet, loving and show all the intimacy that develops between lovers.***
I think you can tell by the exuberance of my review that I loved this book. I did. Now would be a good time to read this one, because book 2 in Lancaster’s Luck, The Jackal’s House, will release on October 30th. If the wheels don’t fall off and the creek don’t rise, I’ll have a review ready for you on release day. So grab your copy now, and…