Romancing The Inventor by Gail Carriger is a story I’ve yearned to see for a long time, and I’m glad Carriger delivered! I’m a big fan of Carriger’s other works, having devoured the books in her Parasol Protectorate series at an alarming rate. Those books are about as perfect as they come, except for one tiny little flaw, in that my favorite secondary character never got any action.
That’s right, this story is about Genevieve Lefoux’s chance at romance! No longer is she doomed to pine away for Alexia, now she has the opportunity for a paramour of her very own, that is if she will notice what’s going on in front of her nose. For her part, Imogene Hale is doing her best to get the hapless inventor’s attention, but to no seeming avail. Imogene has been living a thankless existence as a servant in the local vampire hive. When she attracts some of the wrong attention, Genevieve swoops in to save her. Imogene has had her eye on the dashing inventor, and thinks perhaps her prayers have been answered. She’s known for a long time that her predilections tend to the fairer sex, but Genevieve has no clue that the heart in Imogene’s bosom beats only for her.
What follows is the most delicious build-up I’ve read in a long time. The tug of war between Imogene’s desire and Genevieve’s obliviousness is maddening. Just when you think the inventor can’t be any more dense, she manages to be. Genevieve’s best chance at love is right under her nose, but if she doesn’t clue to that fact soon, it may be too late.
Most of the story is told from Imogene Hale’s perspective. Imogene is from the country and moves to the city to escape the confines of a life that’s not for her. Not only does the countryside offer her nothing of intellectual interest, but she despairs of ever finding love there. Too many people know her and know her family, and if she were to act on her desires, it would be a scandal for her family, at the very least. She takes the only chance she has available to her, that of a parlormaid in a vampire hive. Imogene is no country bumpkin, however. She has a head for numbers and an unshakeable sense of self.
Genevieve Lefoux is dapper and charming, and anything a woman could wish for, if only she’d notice. Her head is usually wrapped up in whatever inventions she’s working on. She longs for romance, having failed to turn the head of Alexia Tarabotti. Imogene has caught her eye, to be sure, but she has no wish to damage the girl’s reputation or her marriage prospects.
The Writing Style
Those familiar with Carriger’s other work won’t be disappointed. This is pure steampunky goodness, with a heaping helping of manners. I love her use of language. The words she uses evoke the Victorian era, without becoming so tortured as to create a dense thicket of big words the reader has to fight through. The pacing is brisk, and the tension is dialed to the breaking point. She splits the point of view between her characters to excellent effect. All in all, it is as delightful and witty as I’ve come to expect from Carriger.
Genevieve Lefoux is one of my favorite characters of all time, and I loved watching her navigate obliviously toward happiness. The sexual tension is delicious, and the payoff is sweet and wonderful, while not being terribly graphic. Fans of Carriger’s work will love this dive into a secondary character’s life, while first-time readers may very well find themselves picking up Carriger’s novels.
This is a novella, and as such was much shorter than I would have liked. The story is so great, I wanted more of it. I also wish that we saw more same-sex relationships in Carriger’s full-length novels. I realize that may be a pipe dream, but one day I’d love to see that from her as well.
This is a fantastic and quick read. Fans of Carriger’s will be well-served in picking up this novel, and those who aren’t familiar with her work will find it a great way of introducing themselves to her steampunk universe. I was sold at the name Genevieve Lefoux, and I suspect many others will be also. It’s a wonderful story with two characters who are more than a match for each other. The combination is electric and sure to please.
Excerpt from Romancing the Inventor by Gail Carriger
Imogene swallowed, throat dry, and wished the tea was hers. She needed fortification. The shed was hotter and more cramped than she’d initially thought. The woman’s face was smudged by a thin line of soot across one sharp cheekbone.
The woman, without a doubt that’s what the inventor actually was. She contented herself with pulling off her large leather gloves and ranting. “You have ruined days of work. I nearly had it calibrated perfectly. Now I shall have to start over. And there is a good chance the explosion took out my notes.”
There was a hint of a foreign accent to her words. It made them sound silky. The inventor was wearing men’s clothing under a workman’s leather apron, and as Imogene watched she actually unbuttoned the cuffs (one burnt) and began rolling up her sleeves!
“Well, don’t just stand there, girl. You can speak, can you not?” At which juncture the inventor –What had Henry said her name was? Oh yes, Lefoux –finally turned from the carnage in her laboratory to look Imogene full in the face.
“I was told to bring your tea,” said Imogene, inanely, feeling all at once self-conscious and guilty and frustrated. I didn’t mean to mess up the experiment. I was only doing as ordered. She tried a hesitant smile.
Drone Lefoux stared at her for a long moment, blinking in a sort of trance. Perhaps she’d caught some of the blast? Her eye color was hard to see in the dingy interior, but Imogene thought they might be green.
Then the inventor smiled back.
She has dimples. I love dimples. Oh, dear.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781944751074
Gail Carriger Online
Note: I received a free review copy of Romancing the Inventor by Gail Carriger. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.