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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 4 January 2012
At 18 and just finishing her rather confining ladies' school education, Lady Claire Trevelyan is far more interested in scientific discovery than she is in the traditional art of snaring an aristocratic spouse. She despises the more superficial amongst her classmates and longs for a life as a scientist and adventurer. It is only after her father's shock demise, and an unexpected reversal in the family's fortunes that Claire begins to see opportunities that will enable her to pursue her own destiny. Her mother, younger brother and some of the family's retainers depart for the family estate in Cornwall, leaving Claire with the responsibility for concluding the family's London life and overseeing the sale of their townhouse. But an attack on the family home, and then herself, lead to a total change in Claire's circumstances - presenting challenges, adventure, and an opportunity for her to take charge of her own destiny... if she only has the courage.

Claire falls in with a gang of thieves - the very gang that had sought to rob her - when she discovers that they're a rag-tag group of children in sore need of education, moral guidance and some serious scientific up-dating!

I generally liked this steampunk novel - about a titled, wealthy, but intelligent young woman on the brink of being forced into a straitjacketed existence that really doesn't suit her character at all. It's a stirring and interesting fantasy adventure and I enjoyed it considerably. But it's not without fault. Shelley Adina's world introduces a range of fictitious 'devices'/wider applications of gadgets than actually occurred. All good so far. But there are also a number of factual inaccuracies/historical liberties taken in the background set-up that aren't acknowledged. The US author's language isn't always convincing ("fall" for 'autumn' isn't a typical feature of 19th C British English) and English schoolgirls completing their schooling in the 1880s aren't normally as closely associated with graduation parties as seems to be the case here!

The heroine wants to attend university at Oxford and there are several references to the institution, including the statement that "she could have gone for a master's degree at Oxford with that" ['that' referring to an amount of money]. However, although Oxford had opened its doors to female students by 1889 (the year in which this novel is set), this was only a limited admissions policy. Women were able to attend lectures, sit examinations (and receive honours in those exams) but were debarred from receiving the degree that the same results and being born male would have entitled them to... until 1920.
16 people found this helpful
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on 11 November 2016
Claire Trevelyan's story could have been a good one. After all it's fairly gripping stuff to go from member of the aristocracy to leader of a criminal gang in less than a month but the writer let her characters down. The story starts very slowly and ends just as its starting to get interesting which left me feeling somewhat cheated. But despite the slow start I felt that Claire's never properly established as a character, despite everything that happens to her she seems to have no emotions at all and while I admire strong women characters that's just unbelievable for someone who's just lost her father, her home and her position in society. I was very irritated by the historical mistakes which could have been really easily sorted by doing a little more research. There were some lovely touches which is why I've given it 3 stars rather than 2. It was nicely self-referential that Claire's father lost his money on petroleum and the internal combustion engine when it was clear to everyone that the future was steam and I did like Claire's attempts to educate her little gang. However it didn't grip me enough to want to read the other books in the series.
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on 16 February 2018
I started reading the book with some misgivings having read other books in the Steampunk genre with very few of them hitting the mark. I have to admit, it is the best Steampunk novel I have ever read. I have read most of all the other reviews, and unfortunately, most do not give credit where it is due. Shelly captures the atmosphere of Victorian London entirely. If one reads this book as it is meant to be read, with tongue in cheek and an open mind, and dare, I say a free heart they can’t fail to see it as it was meant to be read. And written with a wonderful sense of fun, mystery and a fair amount of knowledge of invention. I applaud Shelly, and I am already near the end of her second book in the series which is every bit as good as the first. The heroine is just incredible and delicious. I want to read more of Shelly’s work.
Ron Davis. penragon@gmail.com
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on 12 January 2017
Lady of Devices is a happy steampunk romp.

The genre allows Shelley Adina to to massage history a little (the internal combustion engine is a dead end, steam is the future) while hoofing around in Victorian London speaking posh and wearing a bustle. Which is entertaining. Choosing this genre also (kind of) lets you get away with historical bloopers, since you're really writing about a parallel universe, not this one. Other researchers have pointed some of these out: I noticed one -- the main evening newspaper, back then, was the Pall Mall Gazette -- it only became the Evening Standard later (I believe). Caveats? Unfortunately a few:
* the dialogue is Dick van Dyke on a bad day
* most of the characters (loveable ruffians etc) are straight from Central Casting
*the plot is about as believable as a silent movie's -- harum-scarum, and don't poke it in case it all falls to pieces in your hand
*And there's a kind of mismatch between a high body count and the way the heroine seems to shrug them all off and worry instead out finding an income and civilising her ruffians; it is, I guess, hard to write a lightly comic book when violent killing litters the plot.
* Some critics have complained -- I agree -- that this free offering feels a bit sawn off. However her first-four-in-the-series for 99p offer, which I see elsewhere on her page, does look good value.

Download it for free and have a try; you might love it.
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on 17 January 2017
I'm stunned to admit I raced through this rare novelty, a very readable self-published adventure story.

It's a very light, cartoon fantasy whose set dressing borrows lightly from steampunk and heavily from old movies set in the Hollywood heritage version of Olde London Town. What plot there is derives from a vague Jane Austen meets Downton idea of pride and sensibility in English society.

The writing is good, with a high energy level and an obvious affection for the central characters. Not much happens but there is a consistent level of mild threat and jeopardy. The writer's skill and enthusiasm carried me along quite happily.

... even across the point about two thirds in where it already jumps the shark.

The book has flaws, not least in its portrayal of London and the English, but how much they bother you will very much depend on how much you're absorbed by what else is going on. Picking on the strange part-Cockernee, part-Yorkshire accent and the use of "sidewalk" is like arguing against the spelling of "color". Joss Whedon's franchises are riddled with the same flaws, just like Hammer films have their West Country Transylvanians. You accept James Marsters as a vampire, and his Dick van Dyke accent becomes part of his charm.

I've had extraordinarily bad experiences with self-pub novels, so finding one in which I was so happy to keep pressing page advance was a revelation.

Any concern about a cliffhanger ending is immediately mitigated if you buy the bargain box set of the entire sequence. A well deserved 99 English copper pennies to you, guvnor, stroik a light.
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on 5 October 2016
I liked the idea of this book, based in Victorian England with steam power as the main energy source. But really, believed it would turn out to be a soppy romantic novel, with a betrayal twist.

The novel tells about the life of Lady Claire Trevelyan, daughter of Viscount St. Ives, who prefers mixing recipes for explosive purposes over those for housekeeping purposes. She is on the cusp of being presented at court, just a couple of weeks to go, with lots of social events in the build-up to the big event. Suddenly the rug is pulled from under her feet and she finds that she must leave her London house very suddenly and in trying to find somewhere to stay her circumstances are turned around completely.
She takes up life with a group of individuals , who with her leadership become a leading underground gang.
She attends an interview for the position of assistant to Andrew Malvern of the Royal Society of Engineers, who she discovers is a business partner of an acquaintance. This gives her pause for thought about the position.
The book ends rather abruptly, obviously the next book continues the story. It turns out that there are 10 books in the series. I don't know if I will read any more of them, seeing as this one was just that little bit too short on length and substance. A shame that the set hadn't been compiled of 5 longer books, which would have been worth investing time and money in reading.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 July 2015
I have been looking for some decent steampunk novels to read for a while now (if you have any recomendations please let me know) and stumbled upon this series by Shelley Adina completely by accident. Lady of Devices follows Claire Trevelyan, a viscount's daughter interested in adventuring and engineering who do to society instead is forced to go to school learning about flower arranging, tea pouring, and look pretty for lords and ladies. When her father puts all his money on the future of the combustion engine and it falls through in favour of steam the family loses everything leaving Claire in a fairly desperate situation.

The title of the book, as well as the synopsis, are a little bit misleading as Claire uses, very few devices, three tops if you include her steam car and the "new leader in the underworld" description also feels like a bit of a stretch never mind that the "friendship and betrayals" line never happens in the book at all, later in the series perhaps? Either way that synopsis should be taken with a large dose of salt. The plot itself isn't too bad, I like the steam engine and combustion engine competing as the technology of the future and some of the characters I quite like, and it's fairly easy reading. My biggest problem though was Claire, at times she is the intelligent strong willed heroine the book claims her to be, but other times she is a bit of a wet blanket, I found myself rooting for her and then frustrated at other times. Just wish her personality was more consistant, as when she is taking charge she is extremely likeable.

Overall the book shows promise for the series, it feels more like an introduction anyway (another reviewer wrote the book is nothing but exposition and i'm inclined to agree, it stops without any real resolution) if Shelley Adina can develop the world and Claire as a character in further novels (I think there are eight books currently in the seires) then they could be a worthy read for sure but I'm not quite sold based on this novel alone.

+ Light easy reading.
+ Some nice plot ideas.
+ Claire at times is a likeable protagonist.

- Synopsis feels intentionally misleading.
- Claire needs developing as a character.
- Just sort of stops.
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on 31 July 2015
I did enjoy this as a light read. It is important not to think of this as Victorian England, but a similar country on a separate timeline - with different natural laws. This will allow you to ignore the lapses from English to American and to accept the possibility of a steam driven car that never needs refuelling, or an electric rifle that fires a laser beam from a minuscule power source.
I didn't bother checking the usage of titles and etiquette, as I fear there are errors there as well and the story flowed well enough without worrying about that. For it is a fun read of a resourceful lady using her mind to overcome the slight problem of bankruptcy.
Do not expect reality - the underworld in which she moves seems very tame to reality, and I am quite sure that in reality she would have been raped rather quickly and at best become a gang-leaders moll. But it is fantasy, it is a different world, so never mind the nit-picking, enjoy the story that flows quickly (sometimes too quickly as the Lord appears to have offered for her hand in marriage but the author forgot to include that scene in the book, although she refers to it at one point). The children are delightful and behave pretty much as one would expect, as do most of the characters.
My biggest objection, apart from the missing scene, is that the book is too short. It is 54,000 words. I want a book to be at least 120,000 words. IF it had been a full sized novel rather than a novella, I would be tempted to buy the next book.
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on 1 May 2017
Its a great idea that could have worked really well. Unfortunately, the plot starts out interesting and then dies altogether. There is simply nothing more happening than a few introductory skirmishes that would normally set the scene in the first couple of chapters. And then the book is finished.
No villain, no real obstacles, no build up and no climax of any sort. The characters are the same, they stay nice, only very occasionally veering into interesting.
There are certainly some good foundations but thats it. I will not be buying any of the other books.
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on 29 October 2014
'Lady of Devices' is the story of a young woman, Claire, as she loses the life she knows and decides she must find a way to get the life she wants.

I downloaded this when I saw it was on free offer as I'd never tried reading something in the steampunk genre before, and when I started reading this I'll admit I wasn't too sure that I was going to enjoy it. I prefer modern settings in general so I found it quite hard to get into this to begin with. It took until about 40% in to really hook me which is longer than usual, but that's largely due to adjusting to the setting and I'm really glad I persevered, because once it hooked me I was really invested in the characters and loving the surprising way the story was unfolding. Claire is an intelligent, resourceful and determined character and I can't wait to see how the rest of her story unfolds.

Overall it's a well plotted story with an excellent main character, and a fantastic start to a series I will need to keep reading. Highly recommended!
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