Last May, I attended the RT Booklovers Convention in Dallas. One afternoon, between sessions, I was sitting in the hotel’s lounge with my laptop while working on a book review. A few minutes later, I was joined by another woman with a laptop. As booklovers tend to do, we started talking. She learned that I was a reviewer and I learned that she was an author. And she was writing a steampunk novel. Did I like steampunk? Why yes I did! Would I like to review her book?
That author became my new friend Cecilia Dominic. Since then, I have read and reviewed three of her steampunk novels as well as a prequel novella. The series is Aether Psychics and it is one of my favorite series.
While there are elements that are found in all books in the series, a great thing about the Aether Psychics series is that each book is very unique. There is no pre-determined formula for defining characters and plot. Each successive book is refreshingly different from the book that preceded it. Any one of them can be read as a standalone, but I recommend reading them in succession because, well, they are all great! In the series you will find steampunk technology, psychic talents, intrigue, mystery and romance as well as a well-developed group of characters, each with their own history and role in the series.
The third book in the series, Aether Spirit, is releasing tomorrow, May 31st. I’ve had the opportunity to read and like the other books in the series, I loved it. You can see my review here. Today, I have an excerpt for you to enjoy:
Of all the voices Chad might have expected to come from the pile of wood and straw in the corner of the workshop, Claire’s was not one of them. He was glad she couldn’t see Patrick turn to him with a grin and mouth, “Just like old times, eh?”
“You can take the girl out of the workshop,” he mouthed in return. He’d take care of Private Derry later. He supposed he should be glad the intruder wasn’t a man with a gun or a member of the Clockwork Guild or neo-Pythagoreans. No, it was just Claire’s curiosity and clumsiness getting the better of her as it had in the past. But how had she gotten in?
“Gentlemen? Doctor Radcliffe? Mister O’Connell?” Now she sounded plaintive. “Please help me out. I don’t know how much is on top of me, otherwise I’d extract myself.”
“Watch out for her spectacles,” Radcliffe reminded Patrick.
“Aye. And her pride. I don’t suppose we can keep this a secret from her now.”
They moved the crates off Claire and dug her out of the straw. Patrick found her spectacles with unbroken lenses, but one of the arms had snapped off. She stood and accepted them. They sat crooked on her face, and she held them with one hand while she attempted to brush herself off with the other. Straw stuck to her clothing and in her hair. Chad put his face in one hand so he wouldn’t laugh at her, his silly Claire, or cry that she wasn’t his anymore.
Why did she have to be the same scrape-finding girl he’d fallen in love with?
“And what were you doing in here?” Patrick asked. “I told you the workshop was off-limits.”
Chad regained his composure and emerged. He couldn’t say anything about it being typical of her.
“I…” She looked from one to the other. “I got disoriented and found it. The padlock came off, so I brought it inside while trying to figure out how to alert you. Then I saw that.” She gestured to the Eros Element.
“Under its sheet?” Patrick asked.
“It wasn’t covered.” She looked from under her lashes at him. “I couldn’t resist a little peek. Then that soldier came in, and I hid, and…” She spread her hands, indicating the mess around her.
The little cuss wasn’t repentant at all, and he knew she wouldn’t be unless someone or something had gotten hurt, either physically or emotionally, which would bother her for days. But what effect might the Eros Element have had on her damaged psyche if she hadn’t been stopped from, well, whatever she’d been doing? Concern welled up and twisted into anger.
“This is a military base,” Chad told her. “I know you think you know your way around, but you could stumble into more trouble than you could ever imagine.”
She rubbed her wrist and winced. “Well, perhaps you should let me see some patients, and then I wouldn’t have to entertain myself.”
“She has a point,” Patrick mumbled. He repacked the straw in the boxes and stacked them.
“Fine, you can come to the hospital tomorrow, but at the first sign of distress to you, I’m sending you back to the General’s House and telling Mrs. Soper to lock you in.”
Claire grinned, and Chad groaned inwardly. He’d given her exactly what she wanted, and she still wouldn’t be punished for trespassing. Not for the first time, he didn’t envy Allen and Melanie McPhee their headstrong daughter. Still, they’d done the best they could under the circumstances.
“Now what’s that thing?” She walked to the glass sphere and peered in. “How does it work? What is the fuel source? Where did you get it? What are you going to do with it?”
Patrick held up his hands. “One at a time, please, Doctor. The answer to most of your questions is that we don’t know.”
“What?” She turned. “Then why have it if you don’t know what you’re going to do with it? And what do you know about it?”
“Put on some tea, Patrick,” Chad said. “This could take a while.”
Now Claire stood with a gloved hand on the glass, and golden light poured from her fingertips into the element.
“Patrick,” Chad said. He wanted to knock her hand away, but fear paralyzed him.
O’Connell gently lifted Claire’s hand from the glass. “Now tell me, lass, what did you feel when you were touching it?”
Interested? Check out the book blurb:
When Chadwick Radcliffe arrives at Fort Daniels to assume the position of medical chief, the prejudice against his mixed heritage is no surprise. But he never expected to encounter the one woman who’s beyond his reach—medically and emotionally.
A steamcart accident stole three years of Claire McPhee’s memories, and now as she helps soldiers cope with combat-related neuroses, she secretly hopes to find the key to filling that gaping hole.
There’s something vaguely familiar about Dr. Radcliffe, but every time she comes close to determining why, he pushes her away—and her hypnosis-induced memory blocks explode with pain.
Chadwick knows the Eros Element can heal, but its unintended side effects are too dangerous to risk using it to bring Claire’s memories out of the shadows. But with the key to the Union’s victory buried in Claire’s mind, Chadwick and Claire are forced to push past the boundaries others have placed on them—even if rediscovering their love risks their lives.
Warning: Vast amounts of Victorian mental health geekery and copious amounts of tea were poured into the writing of his book. No matter how pretty the aether is, the author cautions readers not to try using it to manipulate others’ emotions. The side effects could be atrocious.
Cecilia Dominic’s Website
Aether Psychics series on Goodreads
Aether Psychics Amazon Links: