This follow-up novella to Wicked As They Come takes place a few years afterward and possesses the same otherworldly and magical feel as the first book. The story takes place with Criminy’s carnival as the backdrop and Criminy and Letitia along with the others are in the story, but the focus is on a new set of leading characters, Imogene Morpho and the mysterious mechanical genius of the carnival. I loved the blend of romance between the two characters and the intrigue behind who they really are. It is a shorter story so it moves along quickly.
Imogene arrives at Criminy’s door seeking employment in his carnival for her lovely rare butterflies and herself. Letitia persuades Criminy to take her on and then Criminy directs Imogene to work with the mechanical genius of the group Mr. Murdock to devise a stage for her little fluttery performers. Through their time together, Imogene and Mr. Murdock find mutual respect and then companionship that allows the mysterious mechanic to leave his trailer and move about amongst other people. He is parts inviting and parts repelling toward her which she cannot figure out, but he is the first person to accept her scholarly nature and isn’t offended to find it in a woman’s body. She challenges him and he, her to trust their mutual secrets. But the danger that pursues Imogene trails her to the carnival and she wonders if her first performance is to be her last.
The pace of the story is gentle and it is told all first person from Imogene’s perspective. This is no hardship as she is observant and descriptive. For a novella-length story, I enjoyed the strong, layered plot that blended romance, danger, and good characterizations. The world-building was detailed out in the first story so it is assumed here which leads me to say that the reader should definitely read this in order. The secondary characters are also introduced in the first book and it is assumed that backstory, descriptions and personalities are already known. The new characters, Imogene and Mr. Murdock, were yet a new set of favorites in the series. I loved following their interactions and found their scientific approach to passion and relationship a hoot. They were so great in their blend of matter of fact acceptance with passionate interest.
I find myself more in love than ever with this series and look forward to the next installment. Both steampunk and paranormal romance lovers should definitely give this series a whirl.