My rating: Beach vacation (3/5)
Dragons & Dirigibles is the seventh in Cindy Spencer Pape’s Gaslight Chronicles, a series that has hooked me from book one. I was hoping the book seven would return to the family that started it all; however, this one focused on Melody McKay, sister to Connor of book five, Cards & Caravans.
Melody McKay crash-lands her airship on the Earl of Blackwell’s estate. A gothic and desolate place plagued by smugglers. Even more disturbing to Melody is the Earl himself, ex-Royal Navy Captain Victor Arrington; a man who has firm ideas of women and their exact place in society. It should come to no surprise that Melody is none to pleased with Victor’s attitude, especially when she finds herself rather attracted to this prudish man.
Like Melody, Victor finds himself reluctantly attracted to Melody. As the new Earl to the estate he’s now under the burden of a number of new duties; number one is the care of his niece, Emma. Victor is more than aware that it’s now his duty to marry, secure an heir and a proper mother for Emma. Of course, Victor is quite sure that Melody does not fit the requirements for his future Countess. Nonetheless, he finds himself joining forces with her and her contacts in the Order to get to the bottom of the smuggling operation happening on his estate. Naturally, this help means that Victor and Melody will pretend to be engaged; the only problem will be ending this false engagement when the mystery is solved.
Dragons & Dirigibles is a fun read and I think fans of the series will be pleased with another adventure. I was personally rather disappointed in the previous novella, so I was happy to return to more familiar faces. I liked the concept of this one with a more prudish hero falling for the unconventional heroine, but something about their relationship fell flat for me. For most of the books in the series, the tension between the hero and heroine has been palpable; however, in this one I just didn’t feel it. The attraction seemed sudden and a tad forced. I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly was missing, but I wasn’t completely satisfied.
I also grew frustrated with the added foreshadowing of what I assume will be book eight. Nell and Tom are both two of the children from book one, and it’s been clear from several previous books that they have an attraction to one another, but in this book a obstacle is put in their way. I found the inclusion of these scenes to be a little detrimental to Melody and Victor’s story. Dragons & Dirigibles is not Nell and Tom’s story and I think they got too much “screen time” that it took away from the main plot. These are short novels, and the format restricts, as a full-length novel does not. I think this one could have been stronger with less reference to a future book in the series.
Overall, I liked Dragons & Dirigibles. It has the same elements that I’ve liked in the series from book one, and as always, I enjoy the romance element. For me, this one wasn’t the strongest book in the series, and it mainly worked to whet my appetite for the next book rather than be invested in the book that I was actually reading. It wasn’t bad, and I enjoyed reading it, but I’m not sure this one will stick out in my mind.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
If you liked the unconventional heroine and prudish hero, give Scarlet Devices a try. Eliza and Matthew have the same bickering attraction that Melody and Victor do, and they also have to find a way to a common ground so that they can actually have a relationship. Because Scarlet Devices is a full length novel, this relationship compromise is much further developed.
Another similar read is Prophecy, book 2 in The League of Illusion trilogy. I wouldn’t recommend reading it as a standalone, but it’s my favourite of the trilogy, especially since we have another prudish, reticent hero who meets his match with an unconventional young lady. Corina’s not as argumentative as Melody, but I still think the comparison holds.
For another opposites attract, give Skies of Steel a shot. In this case, it’s the heroine that’s rather prim and the hero that’s unconventional – he’s a mercenary. It’s also novella length and part of a steampunk romance series. It’s been my favourite read in the series so far.