Author: Jillian Stone
Page Count: 335 pages
Genre: paranormal/steampunk romance, first in a series
Copy for review obtained via my public library
Back Cover Summary:
In the gaslit streets of Victorian London, phantoms rule the night, demons dance till dawn, and one supernatural detective dares to be seduced by the greatest power of all. . .
He's The Man With The Magic Touch
A master of deduction, seduction and other midnight maneuvers, Phaeton Black is Scotland Yard's secret weapon against things that go bump in the night. His prodigious gifts as a paranormal investigator are as legendary as his skills as a lover, his weakness for wicked women as notorious as his affection for absinthe. But when he's asked to hunt down a fanged femme fatale who drains her victims of blood, he walks right into the arms of the most dangerous woman he's ever known. . .
She's The Devilish Miss Jones
Pressing a knife to his throat--and demanding he make love to her--Miss America Jones uses Phaeton as a willing shield against the gang of pirates chasing her. As deadly as she is, with a derringer tucked in her garter, Miss Jones is not the vampiric killer he's been staking out--but she may be just what Phaeton needs to crack the case. As the daughter of a Cajun witch, she possesses uncanny powers. As a fearless fighter, she can handle anything from Egyptian mummies to Jack the Ripper. But when an ancient evil is unleashed on the world, she could be his only salvation. . .or ultimate sacrifice.
I picked this book up expecting a breezy, fun read for a Saturday morning where I woke up way too early and didn't want to get out of bed yet, so I suppose those standards were met. This kind of lukewarm reaction kind of sums up my reaction to the entire book.
I guess my biggest issue with the story comes from the fact that even though I know that Phaeton and America were slowly coming to care for each other over the span of the book, I didn't feel like they really were a couple- more like a boss and his administrative assistant who bump uglies at every opportunity.
I should probably back up here. This book is an alternative history slash steampunk slash paranormal romance, which means there's a lot going on and a relatively few number of pages in which to expand on all that. Phaeton Black is an unofficial agent for Scotland Yard, which means he's the guy they call when things don't make sense and they want to be able to blame any future failures on a crackpot. America Jones is trying to avenge her father's murder and salvage his shipping company, and these two cross paths fairly early on. They soon realize that each can benefit from the other's particular areas of expertise, and a partnership/"relationship" takes off from there.
I didn't find either character all that likeable, actually. We first meet Phaeton sampling the house wares at the whorehouse whose basement he rents out, and the only reason that's important is that he doesn't really discriminate between any of the female characters in the book. They could be the whores who are his upstairs neighbors, the heroine, your aunt Margaret- if he can tab A their slot B then that's pretty much where his interest lies. This kills the romance for me pretty quickly:
There's a supporting cast of characters that I admit were not particularly memorable- my evidence is that I didn't read this book all that long ago and I've already forgotten them and what they were there for. Except for one- Dr. Exeter is some kind of weird Phaeton protector and his introduction is what gets the plot moving. Unfortunately for him, there is only room for one Exeter in my life.
Ultimately, the problem is this: even though the hybrid genre appealed to me, the characters didn't. I was reading this book and my dearly beloved came in and said, "so how are you enjoying your clank porn?" I was all set to rise to this book's defense and found that I really couldn't. There was some clank, there was a lot of horizontal rodeo (yee-hah) but not too much else. Are you a bad person if you're into that sort of thing? Not at all! Did this book ring my bell? Nope, and that'll happen sometimes. On a semi-related note, I'm reading the first book in this author's other series (An Affair with Mr. Kennedy,) and I'm LOVING it! Different strokes for different folks. Okay I swear I'm finished now.