Janette Aston gives the impression that she is the perfect young lady and would never step outside of what she should do. But, Janette has a secret. Actually she has two. One she shares with her mother who hired teachers to teach Janette unlady like things such as science. The other she shares with her best friend, Sophia. Janette shares her love of learning and science secretly with Sophia.
Across the street from where Sophia’s family works and lives is the Illuminist Society’s Solitary Chamber. There men and women study scientific discoveries and who knows what else! On a dare from Sophia, Janette runs up the stairs and into the building. Entering a lecture hall, Janette sits down to listen only to have her life changed forever when a level 4 Deep Earth Crystal lands in her lap. The ability to handle these crystals without gloves is extremely rare and Janette has it.
Darius Lawley is in charge of security. Janette’s ability has him wanting her to take the exam to become an Illuminist but it’s against the law to ask. On the other hand, once it gets out that she can handle Deep Earth Crystals, her life will be in danger. Darius has another problem though. He’s attracted to Janette as a woman. If Sophia appears to be working against the Illuminists it will be Darius’s duty to take care of her.
But there is much more going on besides Janette’s secrets. If her father finds out she’s been around Illuminists, he will have to have Janette cured. If the Helikeians learn of Janette’s ability, they will try to kidnap her for their own uses.
Will Janette learn who to trust before she runs out of options?
This is Mary Wine’s first attempt at Steampunk.
Unlike most Steampunk novels where society is using the novel discoveries and inventions that mirror those in the Victorian era, this story has the upper class distancing themselves from any of the marvels that are developed. In fact, women are not to be highly educated or involve themselves in any intellectual pursuit and those who are not part of the Illuminist group keep away from them. The society that Ms. Wine has developed has a traditional group which is most of the society, a group wishing to study science which is the Illuminists and a group wanting to develop machines of war which is the Helikeians. The Illuminists and the Helikeians are at war against each other but it’s a secret war not known about by the society in general. This gives A Lady Can Never Be Too Curious a unique twist in the Steampunk genre.
There is also a complexity that keeps things interesting. There were plans that were made before Janette’s birth that came apart. Now, the men who thought they could take control of Janette’s mother are working on taking control of Janette. Janette finally meets her grandmother, only to have her leave. Dark plans and betrayals are made making you wonder who can be trusted and who should you flee from. With multiple subplots going on at the same time, the interest level never drops nor does the story lag.
The main characters of Janette and Darius are well done. Janette knows her role in society but likes to test it. She has grown up secure in her family’s wealth and her mother’s love. However, she also knows that she has an uncontrollable urge to learn which can get her into trouble. She is a quick learner though which helps as she begins to learn what becoming an Illuminist is about. Darius is loyal and believes in the Illuminists. He knows his duty and has no problem doing it until he meets Janette. She may be the cause for him to leave his job.
This fast paced unique Steampunk story has introduced me to a whole new world that I can’t wait to read more of. Though this is not the typical genre of Ms. Wine, she does a great job and produced a wonderful story. Perhaps Ms. Wine has found a new niche because she’s making a distinct mark in Steampunk.
Janette Aston is everything a young lady should be. At least as far as her father knows…
On the outside, Janette Aston appears to be a proper young lady; however, the people of England have no idea that this poised young miss secretly studies the scientific discoveries of the mysterious Illuminist Society. Janette soon grows hungry for more secrets about this Society, and she finds herself impersonating an Illuminist to discover more information. As she is exposed to secrets and dangers she never could have imagined, she begins to wonder if she’s finally gone too far. But when she runs into gorgeous Illuminist Guardian Darius Lawley, she finds that, while her life is in danger, her sense of curiosity is most certainly piqued…