When Jon Handleston steps off the train in Prosperity Ridge, little does he realize that he will find much more than what he came there for. A reputable gambling man with a debt of honor to pay, Jon has come to the American Wild West for one of the biggest poker playing championships of the year. In addition to the quest of claiming a pot of money if he wins, he has an immediate need for a mechanic who can repair small gear and clockwork mechanisms. During his long journey westward, his mechanical prosthetic arm is injured and in need of a hard to replace spring. Inquiring at the train station as to who might be able to assist him, little Gil Grassfeathers, an adorable homeless imp, steers him in the direction of an odd sooty faced, dipped in grease woman named Samantha Weatherly, the best mechanic west of the Mississippi.
While working on the newest invention of steam driven iron horses that will revolutionize the future of stagecoaches, Samantha is delightfully interrupted by Jon and his mechanical marvel. Not only does Jon fascinate her, he gallantly leads her down an all new path of a different kind of steam! Handsome and nothing but a gentleman, Jon confronts Sam and her father Jake with his unusual dilemma. If he can't repair his mechanical arm in time for the poker tournament, he will lose the chance to pay his debt to a man who saved his life during the recent Civil War. Intrigued by this fascinating new technology, Sam takes on the challenge to attempt to repair it without knowing that nothing but danger and intrigue is headed her way. For Jon Handleston is a talented poker player who has beat the best in the west and now has evil enemies that intend to sabotage his every chance at winning.
Action, mystery, and a charming sweet romance all stir together nicely to blend with a sci-fi western steampunk story that is just too fun for words. Sheryl Nantus has created a wonderful and inventive mechanical steam world filled with airships and steam breathing horses that catapult readers right into an ingenius mix of both past and future worlds together.
This novel is so full of ingenuity and charm you can't help but smile as each page is turned. Wild Cards and Iron Horses is a light and easy breath of fresh air for lovers of steampunk that want a fresh new look at this rather new sub-genre of science fiction. Nantus' writing style is crisp and clean, her character development excellent. This reader would have loved to have seen just a little more detail and substance to the novel, but for what it was intended for it's a five star read! Just delightful! I would enjoy seeing the author use this first story as a pilot for an ongoing series of fun adventures in the wild west. Bravo Sheryl, great job, neat story!