Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Adults - Fiction
In May 1860 a dirigible crash-lands at Black Heath Manor. Victor Arrington, Earl of Blackwell, is not pleased with the unexpected and unwanted visitor, but he has more important problems on his mind, not least of which are his young niece and the strange, steam-belching crab that keeps disappearing without a trace. Smugglers use the device, but why they are on his property and what their illicit cargo is remain mysteries he has yet to solve. His life was far less complicated when he was just a captain in the Royal Navy, but the untimely death of his brother meant Victor inherited the lands and title, so duty compels him to take care of those who live here.
Landing at Black Heath Manor wasn’t in Melody McKay’s plans. As the airship’s engineer and designer, she was merely making a test flight. But her abrupt landing and the smoldering debris lead her to believe foul play brought her down. With an injured ankle, there’s little she can do but accept the hospitality offered by her host, even if the earl is a tad miffed with the intrusion of a woman who doesn’t know her rightful place.
Sparks fly the moment they meet, but Melody and Victor ignore them. Then someone tries to poison her deerhound and a stranger, shot dead, washes up on the beach. Ever resourceful, Melody convinces Victor that they must work together to unravel the mystery, and to do this, they must pretend to be engaged for propriety. But the stakes in this game the smugglers play are high and they’re willing to risk anything and anyone, including Melody, Victor, and his niece.
Although this novella doesn’t pertain directly to pirates or sailing ships, smugglers played a role in the lives of pirates. In this case, these smugglers deal in human cargo and their ships include a mechanical crab and dragon. The only problem I had was the abrupt introduction of the slave trade, but it remained a problem the Royal Navy had to deal with during the time period of this story.
The latest entry in the Gaslight Chronicles series, Dragons & Dirigibles immediately piques the reader’s curiosity, and Pape does a fantastic job conveying the characters’ frustration, determination, and fear to the reader. Her depiction of the gothic manor makes it easy to picture in your mind and you wish you could travel through the secret passages like Victor and his niece do. For those who enjoy a good mystery intertwined with romance and fantasy, I highly recommend this tale.
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Review Copyrighted ©2014 Cindy Vallar
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