Kady Cross


The Steampunk Chronicles: The Strange Case of Finley Jayne (2011), The Girl in the Steel Corset (2012) 

The Steampunk Chronicles


The Strange Case of Finley Jayne (2011)

The Strange Case of Finley JaneFinley Jane has just been throw out of her most recent position. After seeing the governess in the house slap one of her charges, Finley retaliates with a punch that quite literally knocks out the woman’s teeth.

With trepidation, she returns home–to the bookstore her mother and step-father run, wondering what she is going to do with herself.

It is to everyone’s surprise then, that a Lady comes calling the very next day, with an offer for a position as companion to her daughter–a position so good Finley can’t refuse.

I quite liked this story. It’s a steampunk Victorian teen-romance (have categories always had such strange overlap in the past and I was just missing it?)

Finley recognizes she has a dark monster inside of her, one that gets angry at the abuse of others, but that also makes Finley much stronger than she should be, a fact she desperately wants to hide.

This is, quite obviously, not the slightest bit historically accurate, but it was an amusing romp, and Finley is quite likable, even if she is rather modern (and American, really) in some of her beliefs and actions.

Published by Harlequin Teen
Rating: 7/10

The Girl in the Steel Corset (2012)

The Girl in the Steel CorsetFinley Jayne is about to lose her position as maid. The drunk son of the house–a dissolute dandy–has a reputation for taking advantage of maids and other young women in the employ of his house. But when he attempts to take advantage of Finley, he is in for a nasty surprise: she fights back.

As she flees from the house, she is hit by young Lord Griffin on his steam motor bike, and, being a kind young lord, he takes her home to recover.

He also recognizes that–like him and his friend Sam–Finley is more than she appears.

There are several problems with this story.

First, my edition came with the prequel short story, The Strange Case of Finley Jayne, which I enjoyed. Unfortunately, there were many contradictory details in the two stories that were pretty glaring when reading the two right after the other.

Specifically, The Girl in the Steel Corset basically ignores the events in The Strange Case of Finley Jayne. Finley keeps having “first” events, that she’d already had in the short story (going to balls, nice clothes, etc) and in the short story, she comes to terms–somewhat–with her internal monster, but in the following book, all those discoveries are conveniently forgotten.

I found this INCREDIBLY annoying. If you’re going to put two stories together in a single package about a single character, shouldn’t you at the very least make sure those stories are slightly internally consistent?

Second, I recognize this is steampunk, and that liberties are taken, but if you’re going to set a story in London, in the Victorian era, please don’t fill it with modern Americanisms.

Especially ones that grate on my nerves. “We good?” is a phrase that makes ME want to punch someone’s teeth down their throat. It’s especially irritating in Victorian London. Why write a Victorian romance if you aren’t going to make any of the story period? Mind you, I love steampunk, but I love the incongruity of steam-powered modern technology with the language and mores and dress of an historical period. In this story, the only thing that’s kept are the names London and Queen Victoria.

Which is really unfortunate, because this book could have been very good. The secondary characters were interesting and well-developed, and the development of these steampunk devices (and the powers developed by the characters) was relatively logical, and quite interesting.

Lastly, the story ends with a blatant opening for the next book, which–as I’ve said repeatedly before–I HATE.

So, despite it’s many strengths, I ended up finding this book a disappointment. Especially since I thought the short story had so much potential.

Published by Harlequin Teen
Rating: 5/10