Thursday, June 14, 2012

Asher's Invention by Coleen Kwan (e-novella/ARC)



Five years ago, Asher Quigley walked away from his apprenticeship and his fiancee -- his work and idealism stolen by his mentor and he believes his fiancee, Minerva, helped her father steal his invention: a prototype perpetual energy machine.

He's moved on, gaining fame and fortune for saving Ireland from the Potato Blight -- he never thought to see or hear about Minerva Lambkin or her father or his stolen machine ever again.

Until Minerva comes knocking at his door, desperately seeking his help: her father has been kidnapped and she needs the millennium machine to work in order to save her father.

While Asher's life has been charmed, the Lambkins' lives have been in decline -- for all of Minerva's father's engineering skills, he could not replicate Asher's success in creating a miniature prototype of a perpetual energy machine -- money has been frittered away in gambling dens and his investors are getting impatient.

Minerva loved Asher five years ago and it devastated her when Asher would not believe that she was not involved in her father's schemes. With her father's life at stake, she has no recourse or resource left, except for Asher Quigley.

This is what I liked about the book: It's incredibly well-researched and I enjoyed reading about the engineering/technology parts of the story. I could feel the excitement in Asher and Minerva as they discuss their inventions and about the infinite possibilities of their discoveries.

When a circle of promethium magnets was correctly and precisely placed, their combined magnetic fields unlocked the power of the aether-sphere in the form of an electromagnetic current, which could then be harnessed through a series of copper coils.
- p. 33

The steampunk element is very consistent in the story and Kwan does a good job of placing small details in the background, enough to remind the readers that this is a very different sort of world.

Unfortunately, I had trouble accepting the premise of the story: I did not feel Asher had enough reason to agree to help Minerva. Granted, it is mentioned several times how noble and honorable he is -- his acceptance of Minerva seemed a bit too sudden. The reason definitely isn't about helping his old mentor or to see whether he could make the machine work (p. 24) --

This is I think connected to the lack of chemistry between Asher and Miranda -- the way their attraction to each other is described, I felt it was purely physical.

Heart palpitations, palsied hands, lack of appetite and a tendency to daydream over his sublime beauty -- to her he resembled a magnificent Greek statue of Hermes -- had seized her like an attack of ague. She had loved him unreservedly, and though time had crusted over that wound, it had not healed it.
- p. 30

Minerva never gives them a chance to develop their relationship -- I thought she was a heroine who didn't really know who she was or what she wanted:

She was desperate enough to seek Asher out after not seeing him for 5 years but, when she's finally there, it seems she's discovered that she can manage things on her own anyway --

"I'll return to my workshop and fashion my own millennium machine. I have a few parts that might do.

...

Let me assure you, I did not come here expecting you to rescue me. I'm not some helpless female, and I certainly don't need anyone to be my nursemaid. I came here only to ask if you could make a replica of your millennium machine That is all. Since you cannot, that is the end of the matter."
- p. 26

Throughout the story, she constantly reminds Asher that they should not revisit the past and, yet, she constantly brings it up at every opportunity.

She does redeem herself in the end when she finally articulates what she wants for herself:
"I want to be an independent woman. Don't you see? ... All my life I've been subject to other people's whims ..."
- p. 121

Fans of steampunk romances will appreciate the adventure Kwan offers in her story. The novella also makes good use of the dictionary feature of our e-readers. It was my first time, in a very long time, to encounter the word "titivate" and Kwan uses a mix of slang gives the proper atmosphere (but jars the reader).

This is Coleen Kwan's first historical romance novel. She previously published a contemporary romance, When Harriet Came Home.
To find out more about the author, visit her website. Coleen Kwan is also on Facebook.


Final note: The word "lounge" is misspelled in all three instances that it is used in the novella: pp. 28, and 59.

Disclosure: I received an ARC through Netgalley. (Thank you to Carina Press for accepting my request.)

2 comments:

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...