It’s not a secret that I love Steampunk and Gaslight (check out my post – focusing on Pape’s Gaslight Chronicles – for a better understanding of the difference between these two related subgenres) and Cindy Spencer Pape is a highly talented author who offers readers an outstanding value as her wonderful novels usually retail between $2 and $5. Granted, you’re stuck if you don’t have an ereader or enjoy audio books, but with so many romance readers using their Kindles and Nooks, I would imagine Pape’s audience is still potentially broad.
Moonlight & Mechanicals is the fourth book in the Gaslight Chronicles, finally focusing on the spunky and incredibly gifted engineer, Winifred Hadrian aka Wink, and the werewolf detective she’s yearned for since she was fifteen, Liam McCullough.
When we last we saw Wink it was in Kilts & Kracken where she and her family/friends were helping Dr. Geneva Mackay, a daughter and a sister of Knights (men with supernatural abilities descended from the original Knights of the Round Table), assist a wounded Scottish laird. It was clear in that book that Geneva’s brother Connor was in love with Wink but it was equally as obvious she considered him another sibling.
Wink and her “siblings” have never forgotten how they started their lives hunting supernatural creatures in the slums of London and despite her being now a cultured young lady and the official daughter of Sir Hadrian and Lady Caroline, she still maintains ties to the people who helped her avoid the fate of so many poor teenage girls. When she finds out that the sweet older woman who helped her is panicked over her missing son, Wink takes her to Liam, knowing he will try and help. What they uncover is a frightening kidnapping ring with anti-royal leanings which employs strange automatons to do the ring’s dirty work.
While Wink is happy that this case enables her to work more closely with Liam, Liam is apoplectic at the thought. He knows he is all-too-attracted to Wink, admiring her fighting spirit and engineering genius, but he has decided that she is off-limits to him. Liam comes from a noble family with an abusive past – his father is an alpha werewolf who beat Liam’s mother to the point that she eventually died in childbirth from the complications of her injuries. Convinced after an angry episode in his own past that this was his future if he tried to marry, Liam believes no woman, especially one as wonderful as Wink, can be for him. He’s actually super angsty about it, and while you periodically want to smack him around a little for it, he’s nevertheless coming from a place of caring about Wink.
But Liam thinks the answer to his dilemma is to have Wink marry someone who would be good for her, and Connor Mackay, the well-born gentleman belonging to the same supernatural organization as Wink’s father and brother, seems like the obvious choice. Liam gives Connor pointer after pointer about how best to court Wink, even while he’s grinding his teeth at the thought of any man other than him touching her. As for Wink, she’s fed up with Liam blowing hot (0h, so hot) and cold and she thinks he’s full of it with his worries about hurting her. I love her independence and the fact she has enough self-respect to not chase after Liam and she doesn’t turn to Connor as a consolation prize. Seeing their courtship unfold despite Liam’s misgivings is a fun reading adventure and I love, love, LOVE glimpsing the previous lovers, as well as seeing how Wink’s siblings are growing up into fine young men and women. We have some great future love stories here!!!
I felt there were a few missed opportunities in this book. Liam plays Cyrano as he tries to help Connor Mackay court Wink, pointing him toward her engineering interests and appealing to her intellect, but he never gets credit later for doing this, losing the opportunity to have Wink understand how much Liam “gets” her. Similarly when Liam is undergoing his mental turmoil about not thinking he can marry, he mentions that he has an older brother who is married. Rather than later seeing his horribly abusive father now happily married to Liam’s bitch (literally and figuratively) stepmother in order to prove an alpha werewolf can find relationship contentment, why not have Liam’s older brother come back and show him having overcome their crappy childhood? I would have also liked to have seen more of Wink’s engineering prowess showcased and celebrated but instead it plays a minor role in the plot. These are all minor criticisms though in an otherwise excellent book.
The next installment in the series is entitled Cards & Caravans, due out in April 2013, but it’s unclear right now who it will focus on. Strong allusions were made to the now defeated Connor Mackay as having a looming love interest on the horizon, and I think that the situation between Tom Devere and Nell Hadrian needs more time to come to a head, so Connor seems the most likely prospect. Considering how much I enjoy this series, and how well-woven previous characters are into the narrative so we can enjoy all the people we’ve already fallen for, I can’t wait for April!
Thanks, Cindy Spencer Pape, for writing such an outstanding series. 🙂