Gilded Lily: Steam and Seduction by Delphine Dryden opens on the landscape of a fictional Steampunk Victorian London. Fred Merchant is rapidly making a name for “himself” in the tinkering world of London. All is going according to plan, as long as Frederique Murcheson’s can keep it under wraps that she is actually a lady in disguise. Unfortunately, the desires of her family to marry her to a suitable family is making this harder to hide, especially with her father working so close to the crown. A self-proclaimed failure in the marriage market, Frederique wants nothing more than to be left alone with her machines and discoveries. Fred quickly uncovers that her new suitor, Barnabas Smith-Grenville, is in fact planted by her father to ensure her safety. When strange goings on happen near the wharf, Fred is able to convince Barnabas to go with her to investigate. Barnabas must confront his past, and Fred her future as the two come face to face with a sinister plan involving steam-powered dirigibles, velocipedes, and submersibles.
The true tragedy of Gilded Lily is its series title; Steam and Seduction. Though romance is most certainly part of the game of this book, it honestly isn’t the chief point. The story plays out as fun Victorian brain candy adventure, but the label of romance novel may put off more than one reader who would enjoy the sheer adventure of this book and fictional discussions of Fred’s travels through London society. Delphine Dryden clearly had fun writing this story and her characters. The book is by no means intended to be the next High School Reading Course novel, but it is a delightful romp through a fictional Steampunk London.
Gilded Lilly: Steam and Seduction is a fun read, filled with mechanical twists, steam powered devices and romance. Steampunk fans with a love of romance and adventure will likely love Fred as readily as Barnabas.
Gilded Lily: Steam and Seduction is available now.