This is a fun introduction to what promises to be a very entertaining steampunk series featuring atypical main characters. I greatly enjoyed the focus on different cultures as it contrasts with the challenge of dealing with a society that is stratified by magic. This gives a very different view of historical England as it deals with both the complications and progress made as industrialization progresses plus the struggle to gain equality for women. I enjoy the fact that Joan is an artist who has an incredible ability to create remarkable items of clothing but she is unaware of her innate abilities and the journey that she makes under Gregor’s guidance is great to watch unfold. There is a very unconventional magical duel that results in some fascinating revelations that show the danger of exposing truth and change Joan’s perceptions forever, which illustrates the author’s wondrous facility at creating a compelling and imaginative story. I look forward to reading more exciting stories featuring this intriguing couple.
“The Curse of the Brimstone Contract” is the first in ‘The Steampunk Detectives’ series by Corrina Lawson. This intriguing tale centers around Joan Krieger, whose family business is threatened by a series of uncanny fates for those who have purchased their custom-made clothing. Desperate to save their livelihood, Joan contacts Gregor Sherringford, a consulting detective who has lofty connections and an uncanny ability to ferret out information. Pooling their abilities will be essential since their foe has a hidden agenda that involves magic and political maneuverings and may uncover secrets better left untold. Joan has several factors that would automatically cause discrimination against her but she may discover she has far more worth than she ever imagined, now it’s up to her to discover who really wants her for who she is rather than what she can achieve for them.
Magic—and love—balanced on the tip of a needle…
Magic existed at the fringes until Prince Albert discovered he was a mage. Now he and others like him are leading a revolution in steam technology that’s held tight in the grip of the upper classes.
A man of half-Indian heritage, rejected by his upper-crust, mage-gifted family, Gregor Sherringford lives in working-class London, investigating cases involving magic among the lower classes. But he’s never met a client quite like spirited, stubborn Joan Krieger.
Joan’s dream was to lead a fashion revolution designing women’s clothing suited to the new technology. But when her richest client mysteriously dies outside her shop, it deals a mortal blow to her dreams.
She hopes the handsome, enigmatic detective can prove the death a magical murder. She never expected a dark plot would be woven right into the fabric of her family. Or that cracking the case will mean merging gifts, minds—and hearts—with the one man who could be her partner in every way. If they survive the release of a soul-binding curse.
Warning: This novel contains an intelligent, repressed detective and a woman who won’t take no for an answer, not when she hires him…and not when she falls in love with him.