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Steam Guardians #1

A Lady Can Never Be Too Curious

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Beneath the Surface of Victorian Life Lies a Very Different World…

Hated and feared by the upper classes, the Illuminists guard their secrets with their lives. Janette Aston’s insatiable quest for answers brings her to their locked golden doors, where she encounters the most formidable man she’s ever met.

Darius Lawley’s job is to eliminate would–be infiltrators, but even he may be no match for Janette’s cunning and charm…

320 pages, Paperback

First published August 1, 2012

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About the author

Mary Wine

65 books796 followers
Mary Wine has written over twenty novels that take her readers from the pages of history to the far reaches of space. Recent winner of a 2008 EPPIE Award for erotic western romance, her book LET ME LOVE YOU was quoted “Not to be missed…” by Lora Leigh, New York Times best-selling author.

When she’s not abusing a laptop, she spends time with her sewing machines…all of them! Making historical garments is her second passion. From corsets and knickers to court dresses of Elizabeth I, the most expensive clothes she owns are hundreds of years out of date. She’s also an active student of martial arts, having earned the rank of second degree black belt.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 86 reviews
Profile Image for Lover of Romance.
2,985 reviews866 followers
June 18, 2023

This review may contain spoilers, so fair warning, upon reading the review.

This was my first steampunk that I have read in a long while and I was all in for this, it was utterly delightful. I am not sure why I took so long to read it but thank goodness for the "Romanceopoly Reading Challenge" to get me to read books from my TBR that I have really been neglecting. I absolutely adored this one so dearly, and while it was far from perfect, as a steampunk romance, it was such a solid read and I can't wait to explore more as it has me itching for this intriguing world.

In this one we have our heroine, Janette Aston, who sneaks into the Illumists guard to discover secrets, only to be discovered by the formidable warrior and protector of the order, Darius Lawley. Janette has been forbidden most of her life to even be curious about the Illuminists and what they are about, but her mother secretly fed her science and math so that she would be ready when her time came. Darius, is a protector and warrior for the order, and protects their interests and laws no matter the cost...until Janette. There was an instant connection between Darius and Janette but their chemistry was forbidden by her father. But when through a course of events, Janette's life is in danger, she is brought to the order and she is discovered to have a fate different than any she could have imagined. But can she embrace the hidden passion that Darius brings out in her...

My Outlook
This was such a captivating read and the relationship that builds between Darius and Janette was so fascinating to me. Their chemistry is off the charts, and maybe I forgot, but this author actually writes such solid spice. For those that are new to steampunk, its basically where you mix science, historical, and paranormal aspects together. Think Sherlock Holmes but with supernatural elements. Its really a fascinating sub genre that has always intrigued me but I haven't really read that much of it. I have also been curious about Mary Wine's backlisted stories and I have to admit this was so much better than I could have hoped for. It definitely intrigued and fascinated me on a deep level and the world building on this was just enough to keep you fascinated but the focus is the ROMANCE. So if you don't really want the romance, and just steampunk, maybe skip this one here. But if you love a good romance focus, then this one might be for you. I am also intrigued by the other players involved and seeing how that developed in the companion novel.

Overall View
I found this one to be so interesting and I can't wait for more. Its a story of the magic of science and a victorian era that we never actually got to experience except for a small glimpse, Mary Wine, really captured the essence of steampunk in a brilliant unique way while being true to the romance...

Rating Evaluation:
Plot: 5
World Building: 5
Hero: 4
Heroine: 4
Steam: 4
Heart & Feels:3
Overall View: 4.25

 photo Addicted To Romance Reviews 2_zpsplp8m0tb.png
August 6, 2012
Originally posted at: http://www.longandshortreviews.blogsp...

Lady Janette Aston loves science and has a fascination with the Illuminists. It’s forbidden by her father but she refuses to be cowed by him. She sneakily reads their magazine, hiding it in her bedroom. But when she dresses in pants and visits their building, she’s gone a bit too far…

The Illuminists use the power of crystals to make energy that powers lights and doors and heats water. She is totally fascinated by how it works and what it can do. Her curiosity and smart brain get her in a lot of trouble. Especially when it was determined she was a true spirit that melds well with the crystal and can locate it by its vibrations.

As can be expected, there is another group who wants control of the crystal and a pure spirit to do it with. They are making weapons and have plans to take over the world. When they go after Janette, the story gets even more exciting.

The two main characters are Janette and Darius. Darius is a guardian and takes the responsibility of keeping Janette safe. That’s no small task. There is a traitor in the safe house and action picks up and doesn’t stop until the very end.

All the characters are well developed, they each face numerous challenges and the bad guys are really evil and full of only their self-interest. The fight between the two factions is intense. Janette has been learning about Illuminists, but she’s not through with her training. When she becomes a pawn in a game that has been going on for years, it’s dangerous, breath-taking and almost looks hopeless. Even worse, she’s fallen in love with Darius.

This story grabbed me right at the beginning and I had great fun seeing the world the author created. The dynamics between characters keep the story interesting and I read it all in one sitting. It’s also going in my personal library because I liked it so much and want to read it again.

The best part: I think there will be a sequel. Janette’s friend Sophia has been affected by the crystals, too, and she seems to have a crush on Bion. I’m hoping we will have an opportunity to visit this world again.
Profile Image for Karen.
321 reviews
December 28, 2012
Sigh. It's never a good sign when an ancient Atlantean society crops up in a novel. In this case, we had two rival ones in an all-too-predictable good-scientists, evil-militants dichotomy, fighting over the heroine who is a "pure spirit" and thus able to commune with the valuable energy crystals both groups seek. And frankly, the two groups seemed pretty much the same in the way they wanted to use her.

As steampunk, this novel pretty much fails... okay, I can understand the gee-wow of airships and horseless carriages, but the crystals bascially make it all feel more like magic than science. The science-y part comes in more with pseudo-scientific descriptions of arousal and body parts, which is REALLY REALLY distracting in the middle of a sex scene. The world-building basically felt like an excuse to have sex in exotic places (and frankly, the Hawaii scenes came off as more than a little imperialistic with the whole "happy native" stereotype.

As a romance, it doesn't work particularly well either. There's no real sexual tension... they basically are soul mates from the moment they meet, and it's only a question of how soon they're going to get past the hero's inexplicable missishness and fall into bed together. He goes back and forth from not wanting to get involved with her lest she be eventually frightened off by his... what? It's never really clear. His delight in dressing like a native? His desire to do more than the missionary position? Honestly, he comes off as a bit of an alphole much of the time in his attitudes, which REALLY REALLY doesn't fit with his society's supposedly progressive views.

The bad guys were rather disgustingly brutal, but that was kind of to be expected, considering. What bothered me more was that the supposedly enlightened Illuminists (NOT to be confused with the Illuminati) was even MORE conservative than the society-raised heroine herself (except in their attitudes towards free love and sex-- which is yammered about every 20 pages or so, tho' not as evident when it comes to actual RELATIONSHIPS (or lack thereof) in the book).

This is first of a series, but I think I'll pass. I'm a little amazed I lasted to the end of this book, honestly.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Blodeuedd Finland.
3,431 reviews293 followers
August 18, 2012
Lingering between a 2 and a 3...it's more 2,5

This was a bit of early steampunk. Dealing with crystals and a secret society that most look down upon. So they are not secret in that sense but they do not let people in.

The heroine Jeanette wants more from life, society is strict. She wants to try and wear pants, study and just be free. The Illuminsts are everything she should not want to be. She was a free spirit and I liked her courage.

Darius is a guardian and looks after his fellow Illuminists. I was a bit on the fence about him. He clearly wanted her, but he did not trust Jeanette and still he did little Darius do the thinking and it just did not feel right to me. So even though he wanted her..I dunno, I did just not warm up. He was so not trusting her and there was one thing he said that just made me angry. He should have known better. But Jeanette at least liked him so I can forgive.

I most also mention that there were these two side characters that I liked together so I hope they get a book and if so then it will be thrilling.

I did feel there could have been, well more. But as it was it was a good book. The crystals were cool and I would have liked to learn more.

There is action, romance, passion, creepy bad guys and wonders to see.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
5,253 reviews196 followers
August 9, 2012
Janette Aston is fascinated with science. She is always reading up on the latest scienific experiment. The most recent discovery that has Janette's attention is electricity. This is not something that a proper lady should be spending her time on. If Janette was not a woman, she would be an Illuminist. The Illuminists are a secret group of men, who are into science. Janette crashes one of the meetings. It is there that she meets Darius Lawley.

Darius has an agenda. To keep an eye on Janette. Although, this will be easy as Darius has the hots for Janette.

I picked up this book really excited due to one the cover and two because the word "steampunk". I have become fascinated by this new genre and what authors are doing with it. It is like reinventing the old with the new. Maybe it was because this book is the first book in a new series, which I am really hoping is the case as I found myself not getting into this book as much as I would have liked. I found that the book dragged in the beginning. Also, I did not like the fact that Janette was falling for Darius so quickly. It was like they met, they danced, they kissed, and then they could not keep their hands off each other. This I was suprised by as I found Janette to be a strong, independent and not be swayed by any guy so easily. Not to say that Darius was not good looking and someone that I would fall for but in the beginning, he made fun of Janette and downplayed her intelligence and for this reason, this is why I did not think Janette would fall for Darius right away. The elements of magic and steampunk were good. Not my favorite steampunk book but a nice attempt at it. Hopefully book two will be better.
Profile Image for Katie_la_geek.
822 reviews109 followers
November 8, 2012
For this review and more visit my <"http://readingunderthewillowtree.blog...

*I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for a review*

I have been looking for a good adult steampunk romance ever since I read The Iron Duke earlier this year, and for the most part A Lady can Never Be too Curious fit the bill.

I really liked Janette. She was not meek or silly; she was a fighter and saw no reason why she could not be an intellectually equal to a man. She was not easily frightened and instead was naturally inquisitive, a trait I liked in her. I loved her interaction with Darius, there was plenty of humour and banter between them and a bucket load of sexual tension. The romance was great, it built agonizingly slowly and when the sex scenes came they were really, really great.

The only issue I had with the romance was Darius. I liked him but he was constantly doubting Janette and warning her away from him. It was ok for a while but it stretched the whole book and got really repetitive.

I liked the story line and enjoyed the level of the steampunk element; it was neither over nor under-done. I felt like there were times where there was a bit too much dialogue and not enough action which caused my attention to drift occasionally.

This book is not perfect but it didn’t matter too much, I still found it very entertaining.
Profile Image for Beck.
86 reviews5 followers
August 31, 2015
This was not steampunk, I feel deceived. It's the kind of romance where the male lead is like, "She could make me a better man but I mustn't" and the virgin female lead orgasms instantly her first time after perfunctory foreplay. The plot was atrocious and the small amounts of sexy times didn't justify how flimsy the rest of the story was.
Profile Image for Rachel-RN.
2,119 reviews26 followers
November 15, 2021
Janette is curious and interesting in the world and how it works. The Illuminists are a secret society that focused on scientific study (kinda of). They are leary of outsiders and are discriminated against by the titled class. They also (supposedly) treat women and men equally.
Darius is in change of security and meets Janette when she crashes of of their meetings. I loved this cover, but was disappointed in the story. This is steampunk, but ventured into more paranormal elements (magical rocks/stones and Atlanteans/Helikeian- the Helikeians are the enemies of the Altantean descendants). Not much backstory or background of who Illuminsts and Helikeians are. There was a brief (brief!) mention of the Helikeians being the enemy of the Atlanteans, but that was it.
I didn't like the romance. I really liked Janette, but her attraction to Darius was confusing. He liked to tell her what to do, without telling her why. He was all about giving orders. I don't think he treated her with respect. Also as a society who saw (supposedly) men and women equally, they really expected Janette to fall in line and not question anything. She was told what to do why too much.
Profile Image for Barbara ★.
3,465 reviews231 followers
June 13, 2023
This was a 4 star read until the last chapter. Characters who switched sides and were traitors were back with the good guys with nothing said about it. These "secret societies" kill people for letting a secret out and yet they did nothing about someone switching sides. It just made no sense. Also a lot was done behind scenes and suddenly everything was hunky dory with exiled members. I just didn't understand as this went against everything the Illuminists believed in. I will read the second book and hope these things are at least addressed.
Profile Image for Marlene.
2,947 reviews205 followers
August 24, 2013
Originally published at Reading Reality

This story had potential. It really, really did. But it never quite lived up to its title.

What we have is the rather ordinary story of a Victorian young lady who chafes at the restrictions laid upon her by society’s expectations and her ridiculously authoritarian father. I say ridiculous because he expects her to be the obedient fluffhead that society demands while he never noticed that her mother snuck tutors in behind his back and gave her a real education.

Of course she does something outlandish, and of course his reaction is over-the-top and melodramatic. It’s the equivalent of tying the heroine to the railroad. He believes her quest for knowledge demonstrates “hysteria” and has her committed to a doctor’s care.

This was a very real problem, but in the case of this story, it’s how the villains are introduced. And are they ever “bwahaha” and extra sinister.

The steampunk aspects of the story are in the science. Our heroine turns out to be a “pure spirit” (more on that later) who can hear the singing of “Deep Earth Crystals”. A fact she discovers by walking into a meeting of the Illuminists, the good guys investigating the steam sciences.

Of course, no Victorian “lady” should be having anything to do with science in general or the Illuminists in particular, which starts Janette Aston on the road to ruin. At least according to her father.

It certainly puts her squarely in the sights of the evil forces that have been working against her family for generations.

And it gains her a guardian Illuminist in the person of Darius Lawley, a man who of course can’t resist her, even though he should.

Escape Rating C-: I wanted to like this a lot more than I did. Without the steampunk trappings the story has been done before. Innocent girl gains too much knowledge, decides to take a walk on the wild side, and is saved by brave man with dark past who discovers he has a heart after all.

Janette is a little too naive. We don’t see her transformation. She’s still just a vessel, even at the end. And did her talent have to be “pure spirit”? Was it really necessary to hang a lampshade on the importance of her virginity?

All the villains seemed evil or venal for the sake of evil. Or stupidity in the case of Janette’s father. We don’t have any idea why they oppose the Illuminists beyond the need for an opposition. Even Voldemort had a motive!

What made Lawley so duty-bound? There are plenty of people like him, but why was he? There was definitely an episode in his past with a society woman, but we don’t get to read about it.

The gaps in this story left this reader too curious for satisfaction. However, the second book in the series, A Captain and a Corset, turned out to be surprisingly better.
Profile Image for Chrystina Williams.
203 reviews33 followers
August 29, 2012
I really liked this book! It had really likable characters, awesome world building, and the romance between the main characters was hot! Even the supporting characters were interesting and well-developed. I read it straight through and loved every minute of it.

Janette has spent her whole life trying to be the good little girl her father wants her to be, well at least she let's him think she is. She's been secretly reading scientific articles and has been tutored behind his back *gasp*! A love of logic and learning have come to define her, at least secretly. After sneaking into the Illuminist Society's building she finds out that she is a rare pure soul, who can handle the rare deep earth crystals without harm. She can also sense them when they are nearby, putting her in danger from the Illuminist's enemies, the Helikeians. Janette's character grows a lot throughout the book. She has to find the confidence to be an Illuminist, which goes completely against her high-society upbringing.

Darius Lawley is a Guardian in the Illuminist Society. He questions Janette after she is caught trespassing, and they have some great chemistry right from the start. They have one of those passionate, or should I say argumentative, relationships and it was great fun to watch it play out.

One of my favorite things about this book is that it has such an amazing world. The Illuminists rely on science and rare earth crystals to power their whole world. Lamps, automatic doors, noiseless carriages, and showers are all used to make their lives easier. Their society treats women as equals and they aren't held to any different standards than men. The larger part of society has shunned the Illuminists for their beliefs, and they tend to keep themselves separate. It was really interesting and I hope to learn even more about it in the next book.

The only thing I didn't like was the fact that Darius Lawley's past isn't explored more. It's alluded to in the book that Janette should be scared of him, but I don't think that it is was explained well enough. Honestly though, that was only a minor detail. It didn't really take away from my enjoyment of the book, I really liked it! I hope to find out even more in the next book, and I can't wait to read it!

4 1/2 Stars

***Review copy provided by NetGalley for an honest review***
Profile Image for Terra.
253 reviews38 followers
July 2, 2012
I honestly loved this book and cannot wait for the next installment in the series. A wee bit long on character development but you really do need this in order to get the just about what the series will pertain to. It took me twenty four hours to go from beginning to end as this is a page turner.

Janette Aston has been brought up as a Lady with the prospect of marrying up into the right type of class. Inquisitive beyond the bounds of proprietary, oh heck beyond the bounds of even the most normal of women, Janette soon finds herself going topsy turvey from one type of life to another completely foreign and forbidden.

Darius Lawley is handsome and the best of the best in his job field but not for long. One wisp of a girl makes Darius clumsy and inexplicability vulnerable to the charms of the fairer sex. Sworn off women since his heart was broken oh so many years ago can Darius close himself off now or will he find his heart snatched right out from under him?

The story starts off as a page turner and ends as a page turner with longing hopes of much more to come. I love the time period and the mind frame of the characters as it gives us a break from the same ole, same ole Victorian romance. You just need a little spice once in awhile to jazz things up a bit and this new Steam Punk is most certainly it.

This is one book that you can judge by it's cover. It's enticing and reeks of the unknown while showing off a bit of skin to let you know that it will be steamy inside.
Profile Image for Mara.
2,485 reviews247 followers
January 12, 2013
From my reading list in January it would almost seems that steampunk is the new black this year. But as black has many nuance, so has the genre. This story is driven more by fantasy than science, but it's not its main problem. The book was pleasantly bland, but with books as with the sex they often show off, pleasant is not always a compliment.

It is full of cliched characters and details, plus an ungodly interest in 'anatomy' in the steamier stuff, and I am not talking of engines, unfortunately. Everything is pretty cardboard and shallow. From her father and his behaviour to the hero, about whose 'dark side' we are budgered until the very end, when I was left puzzled about what the hell it was and where did I miss it...
Profile Image for Tara Wood.
Author 1 book1 follower
October 24, 2022
File another one under "I wish a better writer had written this." The concept isn't terrible, just a little under-developed, but woof. The characters are pretty insufferable, the "good guy" organization is about half a step preferable to the "evil" organization, and I'm not really sure why anyone would be involved with either. The villains are all pretty cartoonish, most of the "twists" seem like they were invented on the spot, there's almost no characters development, and the dialogue is stilted and awkward (I'm assuming in an attempt to replicate period dialogue, but it's trying too hard to be clever and not hard enough to be readable English). Not to mention the fact that it commits what is, to me, a cardinal sin of having characters constantly say each other's names in a conversation. No one does that, and if you need them to in order to remind your readers of who's actually speaking, you're doing a poor job of writing dialogue. Also, the author keeps telling us that the main character is really intelligent without giving us any evidence of that. We're just reminded constantly that she's intelligent, I guess because she secretly reads science articles? The book is titled A Lady Can Never Be Too Curious, but the lady in question demonstrates almost no intellectual curiosity whatsoever--sexual curiosity, sure, so if you're looking for "Victorian virgin discovers very basic sex positions", then sure, that scene is in there. But as a character, she's about as flat as the men in her world seem to want her to be.
Profile Image for ~❤️Minnie❤️~.
329 reviews13 followers
January 23, 2018
I have read Mary Wine before and I've liked her books and this one is no different although it's a different genre.

In this one, we get Janette Aston, a society lady that has to hide the fact that she is a curious intelligent woman because she is a lady and in her society knowledge is only for men. Women are only pretty decorations to be showed off.

Darius Lawley is the head guardian of a cell from a secret order called the Illuminists and his job is to make sure their secrets don't get out to the general public.

Darius and Janette meet when she goes into the Illuminists' (I think is called) Silent Chamber after donning the kind of clothing the Illuminist women prefer. She is a Pure Spirit, which means she can handle the crystals that power all the Illuminists' inventions without getting hurt.

From the moment she and Darius meet is fun to see how they try to stay apart from each other and how Janette struggles to strip years of proper rearing. The book is a combination modern and historical that makes for an exciting read trying to imagine what it could have been.

One funny fact about this book is the name of the Hawaiian King Kamehameha. It makes me think about Dragon Ball Z.

I didn't give it 5 stars because of where some things that were left in the air or were rushed in the end that they left me with more questions than anything. Hope they get solved or explained in greater detail in book 2 which I will most definitely be reading.
Profile Image for Andria Potter.
Author 2 books59 followers
April 5, 2018
A Curiously Fun Adventure

Apologies for the pun, but I couldn't resist!

This book was enjoyable but also quite frustrating at times. I liked how the plot flowed, I disliked how it kept changing characters points of view though it did fit the story as it occurred.

Regency England is a fascinating era one that I love reading about, though I hate how women had no say in pretty much anything. But the women in this book certainly proved that they were more than a pretty object to look at!

I could go on a rant about the bad guys and their order as well as their laws but I won't. I also could go on a rant about how unfair the men behaved throughout the entire book. But I won't.

Even despite those issues I still fell in love with the story and award it five out of five stars.

It was a well done adventure with plenty of romance, steampunk, and fun all around!
Profile Image for Donna Till.
231 reviews1 follower
September 29, 2018
So this is another SteamPunk book and I did enjoy reading it. This one is focused on the use of crystals and a secret society of illuminists, different to other SteamPunk books I have previously read but like I said I did enjoy it. The main two characters are Jannette Aston and Darius Lawley. Jannette is part of a society that looks down on the illiminists, but Jannette is different, she yearns to be part of the society. Darius is an illiminist guardian and he has to deal with Jannette when she sneaks into the society. From the beginning of the book the passion between the two is strong and you can feel how much the pair are fighting the attraction but you continue to root for them. The action is fast paced and I found myself struggling to put the book down. Definitely give this book a go and I am looking forward to reading book 2
Profile Image for Wendy.
Author 3 books22 followers
November 28, 2017

This is an interesting read. It kept me engaged but I didn't really feel attached to any of the characters. The premise is interesting, but in a society where women are accepted there was still a lot of annoying alpha behavior from Darius. The goals of either side weren't really all that clearly defined. I'll read the next one since I have it already and see if I can make it through it.

Addendum: I forgot to mention that the trainers have keys to the trainees rooms, and that they use them in the night. Talk about a position of power—a dressed man who’s a teacher entering the room, unasked, of a female student in a nightdress?
Profile Image for Laurel Richards.
Author 24 books87 followers
November 11, 2018
Pros: I loved the unique twist to Steampunk in this book. The world building was original and intriguing, the heroine was a great deal of fun, and the love scenes were scorching. There was never a dull moment in this book.

Cons: The hero was a touch too moody for me, blowing hot and cold. The reader also wasn't given his backstory, only hints of it that didn't really explain much.

Profile Image for Kelly Kitchin.
69 reviews
January 24, 2022
Impressive story telling and world building. I struggled with the chemistry of the main characters. Lots of red flags going on which kind of ruined the flow of the "romance". If this was fan fiction it would come with #nonconsenualtouching as a tag.
Profile Image for Bryce.
13 reviews
July 8, 2018
Victorian era steampunk erotica! I should have loved this book. The cool elements that moved it along stalled out with other awkwardly forced passages. It fell flat and left me unsatisfied.
Profile Image for Mary.
1,418 reviews3 followers
April 26, 2019
Loved the world! Did not care for either the MC’s!
2,558 reviews6 followers
October 27, 2020
First time reading a book like this .absolutely loved it.☆☆☆☆☆♡♡♡♡♡☆☆☆☆☆
Profile Image for Helena Nicholls.
26 reviews
May 10, 2020
2.5 Stars

Another steampunk romance (I know). It was enjoyable and very easy to read but my main problem was the characters. It isn't that I didn't like Janette and Darius, but I wasn't their biggest fan. A lot of the time they annoyed me but at the same time I still liked them, they just were not my favourite characters of all time. I was a little confused on how the whole world worked and what the Illuminist's were exactly but still it was an enjoyable book and was a quick read. Would highly recommend if you like steampunk romance.
Profile Image for Whitney Cowling.
64 reviews
March 21, 2017
I loved the concept and the world, but the storyline was inconsistent and left me with a lot of questions after finishing it.
Profile Image for Lisa Jo.
378 reviews35 followers
September 24, 2012

Full steam ahead! Mary Wine's first venture into the ever-popular steampunk genre is an absolute success! Fans looking for that gutsy historical with extraordinary twists will love A LADY CAN NEVER BE TOO CURIOUS.

Lady Janette Aston has been told all her life what she can and can't do. Frustrated by all the pleasures of the world she has been denied, Janette's curiosity always has her grasping for whatever knowledge she can find. One day she stumbles upon a secret society, the Illuminists, where it is discovered she is a Pure Spirit and more valuable than she could ever imagine. Darius Lawley, an Illuminist Guardian, does his best to warn her away from his dangerous world, but fate has other plans. When Janette's father sends her to an asylum to rid her of these Illuminist ideals, Darius is there to rescue her from the hands of the enemy. Now he has to do everything to protect her, but after a few stolen kisses, his heart may need the most protection.

Mary Wine, known best for her historicals featuring handsome highlanders, creates a rebellious new world that will draw you in with its magnificent splendor. A delicious couple centers this novel and takes you on an all too intriguing journey. This steampunk novel has plenty of merit, but it's the steam between the characters that will drive readers wild. Janette is a force of nature, but so is Darius. Together they form a couple that can take your breath away. They both have a strong independent spirit that makes them both courageous and unbeatable. The love scenes between the two were very spicy and emotionally charged. There is also a short segment about Janette's education into the world of physical intimacy that I thought was absolutely adorable.

A LADY CAN NEVER BE TOO CURIOUS is a well-developed story. The steampunk genre gives way for many story details to be complete chaotic and virtually unapologetic, yet Ms Wine throws it all in there and makes it seem perfectly plausible. The warring classes of society, the Illuminists as the ‘outcasts,' the new inventions...everything, as if it came right out of a history novel. It just demonstrates how easily Mary Wine can make the true fantasy of the novel come alive. The excitement enthralls you until you can't imagine the journey coming to an end.

Janette, tired of others always controlling her life is looking to experience the world. To say she a spirited young woman would be an understatement. An intelligent mind and an overwhelming well of knowledge were her weapons. I adored the fact that even if she didn't know the answer she always had a quick retort to explain. She was never lacking 'ammunition' in any battle she fought. For a lady of this time period, I found that it was a trait very easy to admire. Early on, you saw she was a proper young lady always playing it safe, but soon you realized she was a fiery young lady looking for adventure. The Illuminists were accustomed to their new technology, so it is through Janettte's eye that you get to experience the wonder of this new world.

Darius! Oh Darius, how I love thee. Not one for flowery sentiments, he was aggressive and stoic, always keeping the ever so intelligent Miss Aston on her toes. He rarely lets the carefree side of himself show, even around Janette. He bases his life on duty and his duty falls to being Guardian of the Illuminists. You see early on how important his position is, and as the story progresses, Janette's importance in his life begins to grow. It's subtle, but that is when the story really begins to shine. Like I said before, he is not overly romantic, but his gestures suggest so much. They say more than his words ever could. But when he did use words, he certainly used the right ones.

He was on his way out of the door when she sputtered a retort.

"You certainly do enjoy telling me what to do."

His gaze slipped over her, and his lips curved roguishly, "That is not the thing I enjoy doing most with you."

Mary Wine has taken a risk with her first steampunk novel and it has certainly paid off...in more ways than one. Fans will be glad to know she has an imagination that stretches far beyond a sexy highlander and knows how to use it! A LADY CAN NEVER BE TOO CURIOUS is a dramatic and thrilling ride with a romance that is just as fantastically unique as the story. Strong characters with a dynamic connection really bring this story together. This novel is the start of a great series and I am anxiously awaiting the next installment!

Lisa Jo @ The Romance Reviews
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933 reviews70 followers
June 4, 2013
Had Few High Points
Janette Aston is a young woman ahead of her time. While her contemporaries are attending society balls and getting courted by wealthy and titled suitors, Janette is sneaking science circulars into her home and hiding them from her disapproving father. He wouldn't be happy with her interest in the Illuminists, a secretive order of scientists who are disdained by polite society.

Sneaking into their Solitary Chamber to listen to a lecture on electricity is the riskiest thing she's ever done, but thrilling in a way that stirs her unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Getting caught and being manhandled by Illuminist Guardian Darius Lawley, however, isn't the high point of the afternoon.

Darius takes his job as Guardian very seriously, even when tempted by the surprising and captivating Janette Aston. She's a rare Pure Spirit, though she doesn't know it. Unfortunately, she's also a member of the upper class, which should by all accounts make her off limits. It is illegal to recruit Illuminist membership, and even if Darius weren't the honorable rule-follower that he is, to do so would prompt Janette being shunned by society.

Problem is, now that her identity as a Pure Spirit has been revealed, she is in grave danger. If the Helikeians find out about her, they will take her and use her for their evil agenda...or kill her if she refuses to comply. And it didn't take five seconds in her company for Darius to know that compliance is not in the young woman's vocabulary.


As intriguing a world as Wine has created for this series, and as much potential in the concept of the plot, I can't say this was one of my favorite steampunk romances. Despite a strong start with what seemed, at first glance, to be an independent and intelligent heroine and a rigid but honorable hero, the plot never quite came together for me, the world-building lacked the sort of defining explanation that would provide clarity, and the main characters got bogged down by less than appealing habits, which threw off the arc of their romance evolution.

I liked Janette well enough. Sometimes she took being headstrong a little too far, and she straddled an uncomfortable line between scandalized socialite and avid intellectual a little too often for my tastes, but she wasn't unpalatable. Darius, on the other hand, often was.

For a good majority of the book, he seemed completely incapable of conversing with Janette without coming off as either a sanctimonious prig or a doomsday prophet. I found him tedious and two dimensional. I'm all for the noble guardian type, but there has to be a bit of evolution in his character as the story progresses or I end up just wanting him to spontaneously combust. That tends to but a crimp in the effectiveness of the romance.

Unfortunately, that was a large part of my problem with the book as a whole. It wasn't bad, and I certainly wouldn't say I disliked it, but it just wasn't as effective at keeping and holding my interest as I would have liked. The story was just a bit too muddled and hectic, the characters were inconsistent and a little limited, and the manner in which it all came together made it hard for me to really immerse myself in the story as it went along. I don't regret reading it, but I'm not anxious to dive into the next book in the series, either.

Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Sourcebooks Casablanca publisher Sourcebooks via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
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