Reviewed by Heather C
Title: Scarlet Devices
Author: Delphine Dryden
Series: Steam and Seduction #2
Hero/Heroine: Matthew Pence/Eliza Hardison
Genre: MF Steampunk
Length: 304 Pages
Release Date: February 4, 2014
Available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance eBooks and Kobo
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: DRIVEN TO WIN.
DRAWN TO LOVE.
Fresh from university, Eliza Hardison is determined to crusade for workers’ rights until her cousin Dexter, the Makesmith Baron, prevails on her to represent Hardison House in the American Dominion Sky and Steam Rally.
The competition is fierce, but only one opponent really matters to Eliza. Dexter’s protégé, Matthew Pence, was always like a big brother to her. But now she’s grown up, and Matthew has made a break from Hardison House with his own business venture—and made his own entry in the rally.
Matthew intends to win while keeping Eliza safe on the perilous route from New York to San Francisco. As the threats escalate through treacherous skies and uncharted American wilds, though, Eliza and Matthew must work together, discovering a bond deeper than either could have imagined…but is winning the rally more important than winning at love?
Scarlet Devices is the second book in the Steam and Seduction series and tells the story of Matthew Pence and Eliza Hardison. If you remember Dexter from Gossamer Wing, Matthew is his employee and Eliza his younger cousin. It could probably be read as a standalone without reading the first book of the series as the story goes in an entirely different direction…literally.
Its been four years since Matthew has seen Eliza. Matthew remembers a pesky girl with freckles following him around, but now he sees a beautiful woman with a competitive streak to match his own. Fresh from university, Eliza is ready to see what the world has to offer her. She refuses to bow down to society’s expectations and become the docile wife of an aristocrat. If Eliza could win the cross country Sky and Steam Rally, she would be financially set to do as she pleases. Matthew tries his damnedest to talk Eliza from entering the dangerous competition, its no place for a genteel lady like Baron Hardison’s cousin. Plus, Matthew needs the money to invest in his new business. So when Eliza refuses to back down and challenges Matthew to beat her in the race, Matthew makes it his job to protect her.
The Pace: This took a while to build up some steam, but once it got going, I was hooked. The long journey from New York and San Francisco got a bit tedious in places, but the twists and turns kept it interesting.
The Romance: I really loved Eliza and Matthew as a pairing. Eliza was the daring virgin and Matthew was the man refusing to ruin her virtue without the promise of marriage. A nice change up for this type of setting. Eliza was definitely playing hard to keep but there wasn’t really any big relationship angsts…not like in the first book anyway. Matthew was completely adorable, even though he claimed to be the “large predator”. The passionate scenes between Eliza and Matthew were steamy and a bit humorous, and even though the lovin’ wasn’t as frequent as I was spoiled to from Gossamer Wing, it fit perfectly with the flow of the story.
“Oh, you mean you’ve never done that thing you just did? You seemed quite good at it.”
“How would you know?” he pointed out.
Eliza shrugged. “If I ever gain a basis for comparison perhaps I’ll report back. In the meantime, carry on as you did, it was splendid. Aren’t we long past the part where we worry about what nice gentlemen and ladies do?”
“I suppose we are.”
“If we’re debauching one another, we might as well do the thing properly. Why are your trousers still on?”
“No good reason springs to mind.”
The Danger: From flammable cow dung to poisonous gasses to air pirates, this book was filled with danger around every corner. Someone is trying to stop the rally and will do everything imaginable to prevent the racers from reaching the finish line. Then there is the El Dorado Foundation Ladies’ Society for Temperance and Moral Fortitude who attack Eliza with offensive placards at every checkpoint and are determined to get her out of the race just for being female. It doesn’t take long to reveal the big villain, but it keeps you guessing about who can be trusted and who will be killed or taken out of the race next.
I’m really loving this series. Ms. Dryden mixes the perfect amount of seductive humor in a world filled with danger and steam (pun intended). I love her bold heroines and the men set out to tame them…its not like they will be successful but its fun to watch them try. I will move on to Gilded Lily very soon.
Overall Impression: I Really Liked It
*I purchased my own, personal copy of this book for review.*