This is a novella tied to the Supernatural Society series by Gail Carriger.
It tells the story of Imogene Hale, a poor 29 year old woman looking to work to support her family. She takes a job working for the local vampire hive as a parlourmaid, partially wishing for them to introduce her to a more exciting life that would allow her to explore her secret without the prying eyes of her family around.Her secret is of course, that she is a lesbian and is slowly falling in love with Genevieve Lefoux, a woman who is indentured to the vampire hive for reasons we do not learn until later in the book. After bringing Genevieve her tea one day, the two become fast friends and a will they/won’t they relationship builds from there. Genevieve is slightly older than Imogene, a point she brings up several times as a reason why she cannot be with her (which honestly is a bit eye roll inducing ridiculous. She’s 29, not 19.) But Genevieve’s last relationship ended in disaster and she has the baggage of an older son as well. Their passion and love for one another comes to a head when the vampires make an attempt to claim Imogene for themselves, and the pair must come to terms with their feelings for one another or lose each other forever.
I read this book as part of the ARRT genre study on romance, specifically LGBT fiction. I found the romance aspect of this book to be excellent. The couple was likeable and sweet and the author excelled in the slow burn aspect of their relationship without making it eye roll inducing. They had (mostly) genuine reasons to not be together or to hold off on the relationship and Imogene and Genevieve were spunky, interesting and a couple I’d be happy to read more about.
The only real problem I had with this book is sort of a ridiculous criticism considering the author, but it almost felt like the supernatural elements in this book were so overdone they ruined a lot of the set up for me. Had the vampires just be jerky rich people and not vampires, pretty much everything would have felt the same. After the vampires got involved for the third or fourth time, I found myself going “okay, we get it, vampires are shitty.” I continuously wished we could get back to our main characters rather than having to read more arguments about vampires and werewolves. Everything was in this book; vampires, werewolves, magic, steampunk, and after a while it felt super stale. Too much crammed into one novella.
One other thing I had some issues with is Imogene is constantly harassed by males and females alike, often to the tune of physical and sexual assault and harassment. It wasn’t a damsel in distress story, Imogene was able to take care of herself in most of these situations, but it was enough to make me pull away from the book in terms of enjoyment every time it showed up on the page.
When the book was concentrated on the couple, it was fantastic. When everything else came into play, I would knock it down a star. I have only read one Gail Carriger novel before, Soulless, and I enjoyed that as well. Aside from a few hiccups, I’d absolutely recommend this title for a quick romantic read.
Title: Romancing the Inventor
Author: Gail Carriger
Three Descriptors: Character-Driven, Witty, Love in Captivity