cover image Steam Me Up, Rawley

Steam Me Up, Rawley

Angela Quarles. Unsealed Room, $14.99 trade paper (294p) ISBN 978-0-9905400-3-8

Quarles (Must Love Breeches) builds a sprightly 1890s steampunk Alabama where ladies have metal parasol holders installed in their backs and automated balloons are available for rental, but its gender roles are strictly traditional, and America appears devoid of people of color. Dr. Phillip Rawley, having promised to marry a surgeon’s daughter in exchange for treatment for his maimed sister, is surprised that his intended fiancée, Adele de la Pointe, would rather investigate the murders of prostitutes than settle into an engagement. Adele urges Phillip to accept his dashing nature as he gets used to her brazenness, and soon they’ve fallen in love. The two of them make a great team, even when Adele’s pet monkey makes it a team of three. Quarles’s world is slapdash, sanitized, and not quite exaggerated enough to offer the thrill of good adventure writing, and the sex is a bit too emotionless to satisfy romance lovers, but the story moves quickly and readers should at least be amused. (BookLife)