cover image The Brass Queen

The Brass Queen

Elizabeth Chatsworth. CamCat, $26.99 (450p) ISBN 978-0-7443-0009-3

Chatsworth debuts with a fun, frothy blend of fantasy and romance in which the steampunk set dressing often outshines the story. In an alternate Victorian England, Miss Constance Haltwhistle—who is secretly the boutique arms designer known as the Brass Queen—must marry or lose her estate. So she throws herself a debutante ball, complete with enormous robotic champagne dispensers—and an uninvited guest: the annoying, handsome American cowboy J.F. Truesdale. When her champagne dispensers go haywire and kidnap three scientists, including Dr. Maya Chauhan, one of Constance’s closest friends, J.F. saves Constance from being killed in the mayhem, and the pair sets off on a rescue mission, bickering furiously all the while. Along the way, Constance and J.F. battle invisible assassins, uncover a conspiracy to kill Queen Victoria, commune with alternate dimensions, and take detours into parade planning and semi-lethal games of polo. The plot is held together with spit and banter, and there’s little urgency to the rescue mission, but Chatsworth packs her world full of hilarious details and enjoyably cartoonish side characters. Fans of humorous fantasy and headstrong heroines will be delighted. (Jan.)