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Magnificent Devices #1

Lady of Devices

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London, 1889. Victoria is Queen. Charles Darwin’s son is Prime Minister. And steam is the power that runs the world. At 17, Claire Trevelyan, daughter of Viscount St. Ives, was expected to do nothing more than pour an elegant cup of tea, sew a fine seam, and catch a rich husband. Unfortunately, Claire’s talents lie not in the ballroom, but in the chemistry lab, where things have a regrettable habit of blowing up. When her father gambles the estate on the combustion engine and loses, Claire finds herself down and out on the mean streets of London. But being a young woman of resources and intellect, she turns fortune on its head. It’s not long before a new leader rises in the underworld, known only as the Lady of Devices . . . When she meets Andrew Malvern, a member of the Royal Society of Engineers, she realizes her talents may encompass more than the invention of explosive devices. They may help her realize her dreams and his . . . if they can both stay alive long enough to see that sometimes the closest friendships can trigger the greatest betrayals . . .

259 pages, Kindle Edition

First published May 30, 2011

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About the author

Shelley Adina

75 books612 followers
Shelley Adina is the author of 24 novels published by Harlequin, Warner, and Hachette, and a dozen more published by Moonshell Books, Inc., her own independent press. She writes steampunk and contemporary romance as Shelley Adina, and as Adina Senft, writes Amish women’s fiction. She holds an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania, where she teaches as adjunct faculty. She won RWA’s RITA Award® in 2005, and was a finalist in 2006. When she’s not writing, Shelley is usually quilting, sewing historical costumes, or hanging out in the garden with her flock of rescued chickens.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 907 reviews
Profile Image for Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ .
774 reviews554 followers
May 19, 2019
3.5★

It was Steampunk Weekend in our little town. In spite of the weather, we had a blast.

The pop up Steampunk Shop


It rained on our parade!






Innocent bystanders!







&, yours truly!




& of course I did a Theme Read.

This book was a download on my kindle. & I had forgotten it was YA.

A very readable book at the start, but it lost it's way a bit when Claire was trying to make her own way in the world. But the story really picked up in the last quarter & gave a Dickensian vibe - well,if Dickens was fun!

I have high hopes for Claire's adventures (although like another reviewer I'm really hoping James isn't the love interest - what a prig!) & will probably continue with the series.
Profile Image for BK Blue.
195 reviews51 followers
May 30, 2015
Okay. So....

1. Lord James is an ass, and if I read more into this series and the two become romantic, I'm going to be pissed. Not to mention, the dude has a mustache, if I read correctly. I just can't take mustaches seriously.

2. As others have stated, she can't afford to ride a high horse when she is in a pot-calling-the-kettle-black kind of situation. Who is she to judge the kids on picking pockets considering her new reputation as an underground arms dealer, not to mention what happened along the way to getting there? She needs to pull the stick out of her ass in regards to her new position in life.

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3. Underground arms dealer with a lightning gun. That's right. Bad-ass.

4. With all that said, it really is a good book, as good as it can be for the first in a series. World building and all that, you know.


Read it.

I would like to say that this book is sorely missing some dialogue telling Lord James to kiss her ass, or the Victorian equivalent there of. Just saying.
Profile Image for Allison.
545 reviews565 followers
March 2, 2017
Lady of Devices is the first pure Steampunk I've ventured into. I've read some that were also historical fantasy or paranormal, but I was afraid I wouldn't like the scientific aspects of steam and gadgets on their own quite as much. But I'm really loving this series. It's a lot of fun, and the technology isn't dry at all. You mainly just have to be willing to suspend disbelief about this alternate Victorian world because Claire's escapades are so outlandish. She's a fantastic heroine, full of spunk and ingenuity, and unconventional ways out of complete disaster. I'm already half way through book three, I'm having such a blast reading these. The first book is free on Kindle, in case you want to give it a try.
Profile Image for Sydney Blackburn.
Author 23 books39 followers
January 10, 2014
This book was recommended to me so I was incredibly disappointed. After reading the blurb, I was nervous about the science - if internal combustion engines fail, what reason will the author give? None, as it turns out it.

But that doesn't mean there wasn't plenty of other really bad science. Lets start with the exploding herbs. Then we'll look at steam engines that are the power that moves society, but no one seems to have realized that you can burn things besides coal to make steam. Steam cars can be started and driven - sorry piloted - without any need to wait for the steam to build up. The idea of an electric car is considered an impossibly outrageous idea, even though in actual history it was a "thing" nearly a decade before this story is set. Vacuum tubes go long distances, without regard for how vacuum actually works. Electric is spelled with an unnecessary and pretentious k, which is not bad science, but still irritating.

If you can get past the bad science, bad history, and most of the first five chapters... it's actually pretty good. At that point we get some great pacing, an intriguing plot, and decent characterization...
until you hit that next bit of really bad science which totally jars you out of the story. And then it stops. There is no resolution of anything. This story has a beginning and a middle, but no ending, it just stops.

The last paragraph of the blurb reads:

"When she meets Andrew Malvern, a member of the Royal Society of Engineers, she realizes her talents may encompass more than the invention of explosive devices. They may help her realize her dreams and his . . . if they can both stay alive long enough to see that sometimes the closest friendships can trigger the greatest betrayals . . . "

Except for meeting Andrew Malvern, none of this happens.
Profile Image for ♥ Sandi ❣	.
1,218 reviews
November 15, 2016
Did not realize when I started this book that it was a series, thankfully it is book #1. I read this book because I was challenged to read something from the "Steampunk" genre. This is my first attempt at Steampunk. I liked this book.
Our main character Clair has just left high school and wants to go on to college to be a member of the Royal Society if Engineers. Her Mother wants to have her coming out parties. She is not interested in womanly duties, she is interested in chemistry. Coming from a very privileged family, and having her father gamble their estate away, her mother, sibling and maids moved leaving her alone in London. It is 1889.
Obviously left on her own, at her young age, Clair gets in trouble, has her beloved Landau (steam powered car) stolen and ends up living with a band of street children after her home is ransacked by an angry mob in retaliation for her fathers actions, leaving her homeless. With an agreement that the children would be schooled, she finally decides to take a job with Andrew Malvern working on a combustion engine. Currently steam ran the world.
A bit of a change in reading for me, but by suspending expectation I have enjoyed this book. I will pick up the next book in the series.
3 stars
Profile Image for Simon.
Author 6 books136 followers
June 15, 2012
I read a whole book in one day. Hooray. I almost feel like one of the giants of GR (you know who you are).

This was not at all bad. The only thing that irked me was how Clare, a smart young woman not yet wholly in possession of her own life, transforms when she takes up with the East End gang, into a prim and governessy figure. True, she does, half jokingly, describe herself as the governess of the children who constitute the gang; but it's the change in her manner of speaking and behaving that is off putting. I couldn't help but read her lines in those scenes as if she were 50 years old, had a grey bun, and half-moon spectacles at the end of her nose.

There's also quite a lot of moral squishiness in the events of the novel. Clare berates the urchins for stealing but ultimately lives off doubly ill-gotten gains without any compunction, not to mention her willingness to become, in effect, an arms dealer (her 'devices').

Still, notwithstanding these points, it was generally quite well written and I'll be happy to read the sequel.
Profile Image for Simon Brading.
Author 20 books81 followers
June 22, 2018
Thoroughly enjoyed this. Simple storytelling at its best.
Profile Image for Jacob Proffitt.
2,856 reviews1,497 followers
June 6, 2013
This was a fantastic find. I never know if what comes across as “young adult” in my head actually qualifies as young adult for anyone else. This book feels like it's solidly young adult, though, with a young protagonist, short page-count, and, uh, simplified solutions to some of the protagonist's bumpy road. Claire is 17 and newly graduated from a finishing school for upper-class girls. It isn't long after graduation, though, that her life is fundamentally altered from her expectations and she finds herself adjusting to future prospects gone suddenly quite grim.

I liked Claire a great deal. She remains (mostly) undaunted even when faced with roadblock on top of obstacle on top of simple bad luck. Previous generations might have called her plucky. I'm not quite so brave—and she's a bit more realistically portrayed than that term would imply. Sometimes dogged, sometimes simply trying things out to see what might work, she experiments with her life as much as she does her chemicals and contraptions. And, amazingly, that works out quite well into a story that is coherent, well-written, and entertaining.

It should be noted that at least some of the events of the novel are... unlikely. The foundations of Claire's successes don't quite bear scrutiny, either scientifically (electricity just doesn't work that way—at least in our world) or realistically (the economics of her eventual setup once on the sort-of mean streets of London are not so much problematic as they are simply impossible). And there are some attitudes portrayed that are a couple decades too early (and Claire herself is rather more, uh, broad-minded than even that). So there are elements you kind of have to ignore as an adult reader.

That said, I didn't have too hard a time ignoring those problematic elements in favor of the story being told. I liked Claire. I liked many of the supporting cast. I liked her solutions to her problems. And I liked that she took action, even if sometimes unrealistically. I look forward to reading the next books, even with the price jump.
Profile Image for Wealhtheow.
2,407 reviews535 followers
February 11, 2013
Lady Claire has finally graduated finishing school. Despite her best efforts, none of her professors would teach her engineering, and her parents refuse to allow her to attend college. Claire tries to figure out how to reconcile her society's expectations with her own dreams, but the farthest she manages to go is to invite a Wit to her graduation party. Then her comfortable life is shattered, and Claire goes from rebelling against her family to just trying to keep herself together. And at this point, Claire starts growing into someone who is downright awesome. After gassing the thieves who stole her steam-powered landeau, Claire starts gaining the respect and fear of London's Underworld. Soon, she's got a reputation and a thieves' band of her own.
Profile Image for Marjolein (UrlPhantomhive).
2,360 reviews50 followers
July 14, 2015
Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com

I didn't care much for the cover, but I'm really glad the TBR jar decided it was time to read this book anyway. I read the Finishing School series by Gail Carriger and although this is not a school training girls to be assassins and spies it did have the same feel to it (which is good because I can't wait for the next book in that series).

In school Claire has always been experimenting, in chemistry for example. After her fortune takes a wrong turn because her father made some bad investments, she'll have to use her experiments to become a Lady of Devices in London's Underworld (while keeping appearances for her family and friends).

What I liked most was the feel it had to it. It's an easy read, with characters with the ridiculous Victorian names and all. Besides, it does also have a twist of Oliver Twist in it. It was a pleasure for me to read it. Does this mean the book was perfect? Far from, mostly because everything is (a little) too easy for our heroine, but I do like Claire and want to know what happens in the next books.

Lady of Devices is the first book in the Magnificent Devices series. There are currently eight books in this series.
Profile Image for Melissa.
117 reviews
July 16, 2011
Bought this because it was cheap. Sadly, it remained so.
Profile Image for Lacey.
344 reviews
July 11, 2017
Star rating: 4.5 stars

After her father, the Viscount St. Ives, loses everything in a business deal gone awry, Lady Claire Trevelyan finds herself in a difficult position. That position then compounds itself exponentially when her father, wrought with guilt, takes his own life. Leaving Claire, her mother and her baby brother Nicholas not only penniless but without a protector to help them through their new struggles. When her mother flees their town house in London with little Nicholas in tow, Claire stays behind determined to find gainful employment to help pave her way to University. Even if it means teaming up with a band of ragamuffins to smooth her way, then Claire is ready to make that sacrifice. All in the name of science of course.

This was by far one of the cutest books I've read this year! It was such a fun and entertaining read, I find myself greatly looking forward to purchasing the next book in this series. Claire is such an incredible main character, with her manners and her determination you can't help but admire everything about her. I know I find myself admiring her gumption quite a bit! There wasn't a lot of mystery or invention in this novel but the characters/setting more then make up for the lackluster plot. I found all the characters entertaining, even her air-headed classmates. I think I might have stumbled on to a new favorite series!
Profile Image for The Pen Punks.
2 reviews3 followers
January 15, 2013
This book contains two types of stories I love—the fish out of water story, and the rich-kid-turned-ass-kicking-lord-of-the-underground story. I know, that last bit was a little long, but that’s exactly what happens to Lady Claire in this fun steampunk romp through Victorian London. All of our favorite steampunk trappings are there—airships, steam trains, lightning guns (oh yeah, dude, LIGHTNING GUNS)—but the heart of the story is Claire’s transformation from the viscount’s daughter who wants more from her life than simply finding a husband, to a vigilant protector of a group of ragamuffins at whom high society wouldn’t even bat an eye. I loved the way Adina structures her story and makes Claire lose everything before she can build her life in the streets.

Not to say that Claire takes to it immediately. There’s quite a bit of expected internal struggle as she adjusts to a life of hardship. To her credit, she refuses to succumb to the low road of pickpocketing and theft as her group of children has done, instead keeping her head high and showing the kids that there are better ways to life. That’s one of this book’s best qualities—showing that no matter how awful the circumstances, a Lady still makes her own luck, as Claire points out.

One of the major drawbacks to this book is that it suffers a bit from Trilogy Setup-itis. The first book in a trilogy often has no choice but to be a setup book, in that it introduces the world and the main players with a bit of plot thrown in. While Claire’s story is captivating, and it did keep me turning pages, the conflict is more internal than external. It’s more about Claire’s struggle to maintain her independence and settle into this newfound role as “Governess” to a group of street kids. She builds her reputation almost purely by accident. But Claire’s most redeeming quality (she has many, btw), is this: though things keep happening to her, she continually takes what she’s given and makes something better out of it. That aspect of The Lady of Devices makes it a great read for both steampunk lovers and those new to the genre.

Cate Peace - The Pen Punks
December 31, 2015
Hallelujah! I finally have Wi-Fi! Thank the gods (Hermes especially)!

The book was good. Short but good. So is my review.

I liked the book, it's characters (all except the mom), and the plot. Though, nothing major happened, except that she, or her dad, loses his job, and she decides to make a living for herself (was that grammatically correct?), kills a guy and... She's awesome.

If you like steampunk, you must read it.

Though she certainly did not show signs of discomfort. Rather, Peony seemed amused at the efforts of the other girls to patronize and belittle her. How did one come to be that strong within oneself? Was it all in having a role model like Mrs. Churchill? No, that could not be it. Lady St. Ives was just as strong in her own way, leader of society as she was. Why, she had taken tea with Her Majesty herself with no more than a slight paling of the skin, which only served to make her more lovely. No, it must be something else. And there was no way Claire could ask Peony something so personal, especially not here at the supper table with all these people within earshot.


You wouldn’t have an extra bed for tonight, would you?” Peony’s eyes filled with sympathy. “My dear, I wish we did. But A’Laqtiq and his family have filled all the bedrooms, to the point that the children you saw outside are sleeping under the dining-room table. The carpet is quite thick. All I have to offer you is the bath, I’m afraid. With a bit of ticking it would do in a pinch.”
Profile Image for Jennifer Ashley.
Author 186 books6,871 followers
February 12, 2015
Book 4 of my recommended reads for Goodreads Romance Week 2015: While this book is not strictly romance, Lady of Devices and the Magnificent Devices series has quickly become one of my favorite YA reads, as well as one of my favorite steampunk worlds. In this alternate Victorian universe, steam has just elbowed aside oil and internal combustion engines, to the misfortune of the heroine's father, a viscount who had invested heavily in combustion engines. Claire, who's never really fit in to her world of upper-class young ladies, is suddenly without a penny on the streets of London. Her resourcefulness and courage soon put her as the leader a rag-tag bunch of (very) young thieves (and one hen). I love this story because of Claire, who combines her training to be a polite young lady with her cleverness with devices to turn around the lives of her charges. She's no helpless ninny, no matter that she's thrown into frightening situations completely alien to her soft, safe world. I very much enjoy the adventures and the well-drawn characters in this series--I recommend all the books, starting with this one!
Profile Image for Wiebke (1book1review).
860 reviews503 followers
January 1, 2018
This had its ups and downs. The story is mainly a set up for a series and I caught myself thinking that maybe the series is better, more captivating.
I liked the characters and the writing was okay. The story itself seems bumpy and taking short cuts to get to its destination while at other times just bluntly hitting you on the head with statements and ideologies.
It was a nice fast read with potential for being a great series or an utter disaster. Not sure if I want to continue or not, yet.
Profile Image for Gawelleb.
567 reviews22 followers
March 13, 2018
C’est plus 3,5 ... J’aurais pu mettre 4 mais c’est court et du coup certains trucs sont un peu faciles et rapides.
Mais j’ai aimé cette entrée en matière et la bande de pieds nickelés façons petites canailles !! Je lirai le tome 2 avec plaisir.
Profile Image for Marcos Carmo filho.
117 reviews10 followers
May 6, 2015

Okay, I'll admit it: I only finished hearing this book because of my reading challenge. The fact that I had already heard half of it by the time I decided I couldn't tolerate the story anymore barely factored in. It was torture to listen to the second half even at 1.5x speed. So much so that this is the first book I finished hearing that I will request a refund for.


The narration wasn't great, but not nearly as bad as the story. It's ridiculous. The main character paints herself as a "lady of wits", but goes about doing one dumb thing after another. She eventually finds herself without a roof and adopts a band of children with the intent of educating them away from stealing. In order to do that, she'll kill (accidently, to be fair) and teach them to make chemical weapons. Because that's much better.


Aside from the ridiculous plot, there are shallow and uninteresting characters everywhere, stupid mock science and no real ending to the story. This read like the first quarter of a longer book which I have no intention of finishing.

Profile Image for Isabel Rincón.
Author 1 book10 followers
November 26, 2019
Uno de los varios libros que adquirí gratis cuando estaba de promo en Amazon y el primero de una serie, esto último se nota bastante pues es la 'origin story' de la protagonista más que realmente la resolución de algún problema. Explica cómo llegó a la posición que, asumo, tomará el resto de la serie y ofrece las promesas de personajes entretenidos y situaciones interesantes en un setting que alimenta mis fantasías personales de vestidos, parasoles y vapor.
Profile Image for Oriane.
236 reviews
November 17, 2017
Une lecture sympa mais trop simple dans le développement à mon goût, on dirait presque plus un livre pour pré-ado/ado.
Profile Image for Laura Martinelli.
Author 15 books27 followers
February 14, 2013
I tend to think that steampunk is a genre at the crossroads at the moment. It’s trendy enough that more books and articles and human interest stories are being written about it, but it hasn’t quite broken through to being mainstream. And much like any genre that’s becoming popular, everyone’s jumping on the bandwagon to try to rake in the cash. I found Lady of Devices as I was browsing through the “If You Liked X, Try Y!” suggestions. (Which is a very precarious task, I’ve found.) I did really like Lady of Devices; despite the lack of a major plot, there’s enough in the book that made me interested in this world and its characters. The biggest compliant I had is that it feels like the first half of a much longer book, but for what is, it’s a decent read.

As the main character, Claire Trevelyan could have slipped into the territory of “Rebellious mind-set, but she’s still high society!” (Because steampunk is ALL ABOUT THE CORSETS AND BALLGOWNS OMG.) And there are traces of that mindset in the beginning, but I liked that Adina forces Claire out of the comforts of high society and into the streets and slums of Victorian London. I liked that Claire does have goals in mind, and that she does view her father’s debts and subsequent suicide as a means to pursue her own dreams of attending university. (You also have to like a girl who wins a school medal for writing a paper on engine mechanics. In German.) And even after her house is ransacked, Claire still operates under the idea of “Oh, well, society dictates that charity is the most upstanding virtue; I must have a friend to take me in!” only to find out how ruined her family is. I do think she’s still slightly naïve as to how life really is for the lower classes, but I liked that she’s forced to start thinking about her circumstances and how she’s going to live from now on. And I just love the idea that she’s acting as a governess to a random assortment of orphans. (Also, my mental picture of her was of Jenna Louise Coleman. Because reasons.) The kids do seem to fall in assigned roles, but I liked that they managed to surprise Claire with their own street smarts and willingness to trust her.

I do have to give props to Adina for not taking the plot in the easiest route. I honestly expected for Claire to show up at Andrew Malvern’s lab, begging to work for him despite being financed by Lord James Selwyn. I really wasn’t expecting the introduction of the street urchins, or that Claire would enact her revenge for essentially being carjacked through uses of chemical noxiousness. But I did like that Claire crossed paths with Andrew once more by the end of the book, and I liked the agreement that they struck.

As I mentioned above, there is a lot of padding to this and there’s not a lot of plot. It takes about half the book for Claire to be forced out of her home and meeting the orphans, and then there’s a big action piece in retrieving her landau and killing the thug Lightning Luke. (Which is done by a LIGHTNING GUN. Someone make a mock-up of this please.) The book also just ends with the aforementioned deal between Claire and Andrew—she’ll work part time as an assistant, and Andrew will help educate the kids—and I felt like there could have been so more. (Honestly, I thought Claire was going to be a feared lady of the underworld. But again, this is just the first book.) There’s a lot of good things in here, but as a compelling omg MUST READ, I don’t think it’s up there. I am looking forward to reading the next book, and seeing where things go.

It is a good quick read, if you’re looking for something to fill up your ereader, and as I’ve mentioned, I really liked that Adina was willing to explore the lower class society in a steampunk setting. (Again, the tendency is to keep all characters in the upper classes because OMG WE NEED TO THE HEROINE IN CORSETS AND GOWNS.) I did really like the book, but the lack of plot does feel frustrating, especially since there’s nothing that actually happens in this first book.
Profile Image for  ~Geektastic~.
232 reviews148 followers
January 11, 2016
I can’t in good conscience say that the plot of this tale is “believable.” But the pieces fall together so nicely that suspending my disbelief was surprisingly easy. I suppose this is because the setting and the characters do all the heavy lifting, with actual plot taking a backseat to the development of the world.

Claire Trevelyan, the titular Lady of Devices, goes from well-to-do finishing school graduate with hopes of attending university to the den mother of a gang of pickpockets within a matter of days. On the surface, this summary sounds silly, but Claire is a bright and resourceful heroine and makes you believe in her. I’m a little afraid some readers will accuse her of being a Mary Sue, but Adina does a good job of establishing Claire as someone who works for her successes, and isn’t just magically gifted because she is the heroine.

Lady occasionally reminded me of another female-centric steampunk series, Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate, though the similarities are probably due to sharing ground in a very small literary subgenre. Both works feature a practical, no-nonsense heroine who is somehow held back from joining the ranks of bored Victorian society wives, either due to physical or social limitations, but who proves to be incredibly resourceful and finds her own idiosyncratic way of doing things. In Carriger’s series, Alexia is relegated to the shelf of spinsterhood on account of her unconventional looks and her unwillingness to suffer fools. Adina’s Claire is also not a great beauty and is more interested in intellectual pursuits than is “proper” for a well-bred young lady. Like Alexia, Claire has a mother who is more concerned with appearances and the status quo than her daughter’s actual welfare. Both act out against the strictures of society as embodied by their mothers, and lead adventurous lives against the grain of feminine expectations. Were this actual Victorian fiction, Claire would be anachronistic, but for the purposes of steampunk adventure, she presses all the right buttons (just like Alexia before her).

Adina does a superb job blending alternate history—steam powered devices, electrical weapons—with a Victorian setting that feels very authentic. This is where the Magnificent Devices series deviates from the style of Carriger’s series, since Parasol Protectorate used steampunk only on a superficial level and was much more about the paranormal (which doesn’t feature at all in Devices). The nuances of social strata and the contrast between the classes feel very real; Adina obviously did her research, even if Claire’s ability to walk between the different spheres may stretch credulity a bit. Especially worth noting is the effective use of dialect; it’s a tricky thing in the best circumstances, but the cockney street slang of Claire’s gang rings true and never feels forced. The author may describe fashion in a little more detail than is necessary, but in a society so focused on decorum, it doesn’t detract from the overall effect.

Before this starts to sound like a complete gush-fest, I have to admit this first volume has some weaknesses, though none of them are deal breakers. The story has important plot moments, but much of the time it feels like set-up for the later entries in the series instead of a story all its own. There is also a quality to some of the events that make the stakes feel both real and unreal, with certain moments of tension being very effective, and others being too obviously a set-up for later events and thus having very little payoff. Also, the cover is misleading. It’s pretty in a generic kind of way, but doesn’t fit Claire’s get-down-to-business character at all.

Minor quibbles aside, this was a great popcorn read and helped me out of a fiction reading slump. I enjoyed it so much that I bought the next THREE volumes in the series.

(Cross-posted on Booklikes:http://atroskity.booklikes.com/post/1...)
Profile Image for Karen B..
457 reviews9 followers
January 8, 2017
I definitely enjoyed this book but I think it is something you have to have a taste for ... steampunk. The time period is Victorian and there's a certain formality to it, like some of the Regency romances. But the contraptions are great. I don't know if it's in every steampunk book but there's an idea in the society that women should not be involved in science. Lady Claire has her life turned upside down with the death of her father but she is able to pursue her interests but maintain her values. I loved when a male character said (can't find the quote so I am paraphrasing here) something about "little girls should listen and not speak" and Clair said "Little girls should speak and be listened to". One thing I don't really understand about steampunk though is that the attitude is very liberating of women but they still wear dresses and corsets. *LOL* Some of the covers on these books would keep me from reading them if I didn't know better. Claire is feisty and determined and a good leader/ role model for her young "charges". This book was just plain fun.
Profile Image for Becky.
293 reviews114 followers
August 23, 2011
I love steampunk, and it was a combination of this and the gorgeous cover that made me pick this book up. For the most part, I'm glad that I did. It does take awhile to get rolling, I think. Our main character is Claire, whose life at the beginning is pretty dull: she comes from a wealthy family of good background (referred to as "Bloods"), and Claire is on the verge of graduating a private school at which young girls are trained to run a household and be good wives. Naturally, Claire is too inquisitive for her own good, and hopes to attend university after graduation rather than settle down.

To be honest, up until this point the book was pretty generic, and it isn't until we learn that Claire's father has lost the family fortune that it really picks up. Not only has Claire's father lost the family's money, but his company has lost numerous other people their investments, resulting in riots. Claire's mother escapes with her son, Claire's baby brother, but Claire chooses to stay, hoping she can find work. She eventually finds herself living with multiple street children, teaching them basic etiquette as well as sharing her knowledge of chemistry and mechanics, hence the title "Lady of Devices". This is where the book really shines: we get to see Claire pulling away from society's constraints, and she really is a spitfire. At one point, she uses a mixture of chemicals to bomb the looters who stole from her family, and I was definitely cheering her on.

On the other hand, there are some minor annoyances with her character. The big one is that, though Claire labels herself as a "Wit" (in contrast to a "Blood," who values breeding and family lines) she's still, at heart, an elitist. More than once, she shames the children for picking pockets or stealing food, completely disregarding the fact that these children have been living on the street for years, while she, at most, lives on the street for a few weeks (and really, the book only makes it seem like a few days). It bothered me that Claire apparently sees herself as the higher moral example for these children, when it was pure luck that she was never forced to resort to stealing in order to survive. There's the additional problem that Claire murders another man in order to steal his house--but he was evil and it was an accident, so apparently she doesn't need to feel remorse for longer than a few pages.

My other complaint about the book was the length: at under 200 pages, I'm not sure this can be really be described as a "novel". It was only about 130 pages on my ereader, but the length probably varies depending on the ereader and screen size.

All in all, this book took awhile to get started, and ended a little too soon. Fortunately, it does appear the author is turning this into a series (though I couldn't find any information about a sequel) so I'm looking forward to seeing where it heads next.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Alisha.
198 reviews6 followers
March 19, 2012
Lady Claire is a smart, headstrong woman who wants nothing to do with the life she's had chosen for her. Instead of being married she would rather go to college and learn more about the power of steam and chemistry. Her formidable mother however, will hear nothing of her plans, and suffocates Claire under her lessons on manners and propriety. After a horrible accident changes Claire's fortune, it seems the path has opened up for her to be free at last. With her new freedom, Claire collects a band of impoverished children and takes over a gang, remaking them into chemists and card players to earn a respectable living. Together they begin to change thing for the better in all of their lives.

This book was very good, and kept me reading it until I finished it that day. Claire was a likeable character who's change and metamorphosis into a confident and charismatic young woman is realistic and endearing. The children are also interesting characters even if they are a bit mischievous. Lord James is a bit irritating, and when I read future books, I hope to see less of him. However, his partner Andrew is much more likeable as a possible romantic figure in Claire's life. The storyline and character building was all very good and pulled you into their world powered by steam quite nicely. I loved how it mixed the reality of the early 1900's with the fiction of the steampunk genre. It really makes you feel as if that is how the world may have possibly turned out. The failure of the combustible engine was a particularly nice touch, showing how easily their world may have turned into ours. It literally felt as if this could have been a parallel time line to ours, which I suppose is what this genre is about, although I'm lacking in experience with it. Anyways, top notch book and I'm ready to read the next installment!
Profile Image for Amanda.
160 reviews18 followers
January 6, 2013
Pitch-perfect pulp. And I mean that as the highest form of compliment. (This review will stand for the first three books, taken together in one big gulp, which is how I read them.)

So often, authors feel the need to add stuff to steampunk. (I'm looking at you Kate Locke). Or they take the differences too far and create a world that is too alien to feel Victorian (Cherie Priest). But really, it's lovely as it is and a good writer can do so much with the setting. And Ms. Adina does. All three books are lovely examples of the genre, perfectly executed.

Our heroine is spunky and bright but not a Mary Sue. Her situation is only teensiest bit contrived. The series's villain is vicious and quite horrible, while still being subtle and believably evil. And I love her Rag Tag Bad of allies, from start to finish.

My only complain is the way that the central romance is being forestalled in a somewhat clumsy and strained manner. I'm hopeful that the next book will wrap up that nonsense and let our heroine bound forward of her own accord, with a man at her side or no.

Entirely worth you time and energy as a series.


Profile Image for LPJ.
572 reviews30 followers
March 29, 2016
Loved this. I'd DNFd about 6 books in a row before stumbling onto this one. It captured my interest and my imagination and I'm happy to have found it.

Also, it didn't feel YA to me, at least not in the bad ways that have me avoiding the genre these days. If anything, Claire read much older than 17, though that could be due to the historical setting. The steampunk elements were great and I felt this is everything I could want from the subgenre.

It was funny and light with sparklingly vibrant characters. I'm a bit wary that the rest of the series in large part follows Claire—I hate when things are drawn out—but I'm willing to go along for the ride. Also, it's not until book 2 that you find out that one of the characters is apparently black, which is a huge pet peeve of mine (why include diversity if you won't tell us?). Still, this book dragged me out of my reading slump. It's short and zippy and will have you one-clicking the next in the series.
Profile Image for Ian.
1,336 reviews188 followers
October 22, 2013
Coming from a life of privilege, little is expected of Claire except that she marry well and be a good wife. But her greatest desire is to attend college and become an engineer. Then after a failed business venture her father commits suicide, she loses her life of privilege and finds herself on the street. She must rely on her wit and her education to survive and make something of herself.

Lady of Devices occasionally felt a bit like a video game, with Claire acquiring skills and then moving on to the next level. But that's not a criticism, it worked well for the story. If I have a criticism it's that the book is too short. After just reading A Discovery of Witches which was interminably long, I'm going to go the other way with this one and say I wish there were 150 more pages.
Profile Image for Jenny.
911 reviews181 followers
February 4, 2016
This was a fun read! I loved the idea of the MC being more of a "modern, thinking woman" during a time when all that was expected of woman was to marry a rich man. I especially loved it when she met all the orphan children, and starting hatching crazy plans that somehow worked!
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