Christopher Hoare presents an intriguing take on steampunk/Regency in Steam & Stratagem, one where alternate history and the relationships of the characters share center stage. I fell in love with the feisty and independent Roberta Stephenson immediately, and eagerly followed her into the world of early steamships, Napoleonic plots, and eligible gentlemen who each have their own charms to recommend them.
The pace is nicely balanced as plots and intrigue unfold, and Roberta is drawn into the world of intelligence-gathering–a world she’d frankly rather avoid–in the name of supplying her country with ships that will stand up to the newest technology employed by the enemy. It was fun to see her slyly surprising the unsuspecting men of the Navy with her intelligence and breadth of knowledge, but refreshingly, she always kept her dignity, which was part of what made her a very believable character for me.
The book does leave many questions unanswered, but the Tyche website promises another installment in Roberta’s story, Spies and Subterfuge, coming in 2015. If you are a historical/alternate history/Regency fan I highly recommend this book!