Series: Gaslight Chronicles #1
Published by Carina Press on 7 March 2011
Sir Merrick Hadrian, a Knight of the Order of the Round Table, is skilled in magick and technology but completely undone by five kids. They saved his life when he was hunting vampires and he decided to take them in, partly out of gratitude and partly so he could hone their skills. These fairly wild children soon turn his house upside down and he discovers he needs a governess tout de suit. Enter Miss Caroline “Caro” Bristol aka Mary Poppins. Caro is able to sooth the savage little beasts with great aplomb but finds Merrick much harder to handle.
The relationship between Merrick and Caro is sweet but it changed very abruptly. I wanted greater chemistry and higher stakes in the relationship so as an audience we didn’t know if they are really going to get together. Instead, Merrick suddenly decides that he wants to marry Caro which is a complete turnaround from Mr. I only want to have an affair. I prefer a little more foreshadowing in this respect.
The children were not well defined apart from their ability and one or two details. I think the biggest problem was that there were five of them and so it was difficult to develop them properly in the context of a paranormal romance. The purpose of this novel seemed to be to introduce them and having done that, I expect that later novels will round them out.
I really enjoyed the opening where Merrick tracked down the vampires and dispatched them with the help of the kids. Unfortunately we are then introduced to a series of clichés – the handsome father figure who is inept at dealing with children, the gorgeous governess who is really the illegitimate daughter of a member of the aristocracy, a spinster aunt who encourages the relationship, a tomboy girl who likes playing with machines etc. I could go on but I think you get the idea. I wouldn’t have had an issue if there were just one or two of these clichés but there were so many it detracted from what could have been a great novel. The ending was a bit rushed for my liking given it took our couple several chapters to actually meet.
The novel is very forward thinking for its time as many of the characters’ attitudes, values and beliefs more suited to the 21st century rather than the 19th century. I assume this was done in order to make the relationship between Merrick and Caro seem plausible. This, combined with the light sprinkling of steampunk, makes this novel more suited to fans of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series even though those books have far more humour in them.