Originally Posted by phenomshel
I've been looking at those two titles from Carina Press as well.
Well, I'd have to say that Cindy Spencer Pape
' Steam and Sorcery
, that Victorian steampunk-with-magick kinda-mystery-ish romance which I bought and just finished, was worth 99 cents + tax, even if I wouldn't pay much more than that for any future sequels.
It was a pretty decent read, and better than I was expecting based on the freebie novella (which is actually a postquel rather than a prequel), even though there were some fairly silly and unsubtle elements.
For example, one of the villains behind the dastardly scheme is exactly the type of person I thought it would be, based on those zero-sum romance clichéd character personality rules mentioned upthread.
And the heroine at first seems to be a moderately ordinary person of moderately ordinary means, but turns out to
And of course there were the very special children with very special talents who thankfully lost their very special phonetically rendered speech defects very soon after coming into contact with the governess-heroine who tames them and wins their hearts with love and understanding due to her implacably sweet nature.
But aside from that, the characterization wasn't bad, and the children were reasonably likeable once they stopped behaving with disproportionately naughtiness so that the governess-heroine could look good by persuading them to stop sliding down bannisters and breaking the valuable ancient heirlooms of the titled lord who generously took them in. Which you'd think that precocious as they're supposed to be, they would have figured out to not do that already, if only not to get sent packing back to the streets.
And the mystery/adventure (one of those which-mysterious-group-is-behind-the-nefarious-plot types kind of like that first Gail Carriger
book, rather than a straightforward whodunnit) was approached in a fairly decent manner, with some mild investigative work done (undercover to parties where Important Clues are dropped and whatnot).
And I admit that I was pleasantly surprised at how some of the romantic aspects unfolded. Based on the fact that Carina publishes mainly erotic romance as far as I can tell, and the contents of the previous novella, I was fully expecting half the book to be about how the two leads were either boinking each other, or fantasizing about how much they wanted to boink each other.
But no, the book actually unfolds the characters and setting and mystery/adventure bits first, so that other stuff doesn't seriously start until the 60% mark, after which they do spend about every other scene coupling like crazed ice weasels. So those activities only take up about 20% of the story, which is a rather nice ratio for a no-romo reader.
Medium recommend if you can get it cheap during the current sale
, or in a future one. I consider it worth the money I paid (especially once I factor in supporting a publisher who's committed to DRM-free and giving out promo novellas), but I personally wouldn't consider it worth paying very much more than that, simply because deep down it's just not really my kind of thing* and the writing isn't outstanding enough to persuade me to make an exception.
But it was reasonably enjoyable nonetheless and I don't regret spending the money, and think I might be persuaded to try any future sequels at a similarly low promotional price, provided the samples read well.
* And I think it rather helps if you've always harboured a secret desire to read the paranormal porno version of Mary Poppins
, because it was kind of like that, in a way.