THE GILDED SCARAB
Butler’s newest book is a marvelously creative alternative history that perfectly captures the spirit of exploration and derring-do that is at the heart of the best Victorian adventure novels, and delights in the steampunk devices and imaginative potential. Best of all, she balances this utterly engrossing premise with a moving romance that develops slowly, tentatively building into a love that is lushly romantic and liberating for both heroes. The narrator’s arch observations are a treat, but it is his journey of self-discovery that will keep readers’ interest at a fever pitch from the first cup of coffee to the final, wonderfully fulfilling scene.
Captain Rafe Lancaster has had to completely reinvent himself following a devastating aerofighter crash during the Second Boer War, which left him permanently scarred. Returning to Londonium with no prospects and no friends, he decides to buy a coffeehouse near the Britannic Imperium Museum in Bloomsbury, a place where he can be himself and keep his thumb on the pulse of Londonium’s politics. But life in the civilian world is far from peaceful, and soon Rafe finds himself dodging ex-lovers and determined assassins alike, all while trying to avoid the very real danger of losing his heart. (DREAMSPINNER, Feb., 314 pp., $17.99)