Welcome to my tour stop for the Aether Psychics Series by Cecilia Dominic! The tour runs December 14-18 with reviews of both Eros Element and Light Fantastique. This is a New Adult Steampunk with a sweet romance (not graphic). The book is available in ebook formats worldwide.
Today I will be reviewing the first book in the series, Eros Element. Look for Light Fantastique tomorrow!
If love is the ivy, secrets are the poison.
After enduring heartbreak at the hands of a dishonest woman, Edward Bailey lives according to scientific principles of structure and predictability. Just the thought of stepping outside his strict routine raises his anxiety.
Adding to his discomfort is Iris McTavish, who appears at his school’s faculty meeting in place of her world-famous archeologist father. Worse, the two of them are to pose as Grand Tourists while they search for an element that will help harness the power of aether.
Iris jumps at the opportunity to prove her worth as a scholar—and avoid an unwanted marriage proposal—while hiding the truth of her father’s whereabouts. If her secret gets out, the house of McTavish will fall into ruin.
Quite unexpectedly, Edward and Iris discover a growing attraction as their journey takes them to Paris and Rome, where betrayal, blackmail and outright theft threaten to destroy what could be a revolutionary discovery—and break their hearts.
***** Review *****
Professor Edward Bailey has dedicated his life to science, and after a heartbreaking ordeal he decides to live by the structure and predictability of science. Everything about his life is strictly routine, right down to the half cubes of sugar he puts in tea. He works alone in the aether department at the university.
Johann Bledsoe is Edward’s closest friend and works at the university with Edward. He is a talented musician and also a notorious skirt-chaser, but is extremely protective of Edward.
Iris McTavish takes up in her esteemed archaeologist father’s stead when called to the university. A rich American has requested Professor Bailey and archaeologist McTavish tour Europe as Grand Tourists in search of an element that will harness the power of the aether, which will in turn save Edward’s job and department from being cut.
Iris has studied all of her father’s work and wants to follow in his footsteps. They share a special connection with objects that allows them further insight than strictly the historical. Iris snatches this opportunity to save Grange House, make her mark as a scholar and avoid an unwanted marriage proposal. All the while hiding the truth about where her father is and what he is doing.
Despite their magnanimous personality differences, Edward is drawn to Iris’s love of learning, the scholar in her as they set out for Paris and Rome. Bledsoe wants nothing but to keep them apart and protect Edward, even at the extent of lording a hurtful piece of blackmail over Iris.
As they make their maiden voyage via airship to Paris, the expedition is met with unexpected betrayal, blackmail and theft.
Edward Bailey – a neuoritic professor who is obsessed with the world of aether and will do anything to protect his department, which allows him to work alone; he has an interesting friendship with Bledsoe and has an instant animosity to Iris
Edward is like a child in a lot of ways. He seems insensitive but is easily hurt.
Johann Bledsoe – a womanizing, gambling musician who is very loyal to Edward but is also very secretive; uses his wily ways to blackmail Iris
Iris McTavish – an orphaned young woman who wants to pursue work or study at university as a scholar; she possesses an uncanny power of reading objects; she sets out on the expedition under the guise of working with her father from afar to be able to keep her home
Marie St. Jean – a maid supplied to Iris for her journey by Cobb; she seems to have many secrets of her own and knows much more about the expedition from Cobb himself
Parnabay Cobb – a wealthy American contracting and funding the expedition; at odds with the spying Clockwork Guild
Doctor Chadwick Radcliffe – an African American doctor who is very interested in Edward’s condition in Paris
Patrick O’Connell – an Irishman who works with Doctor Radcliffe; he becomes very protective of Iris and Marie
“Sometimes the universe drops things into your lap that you don’t recognize as gifts at first.”
From her childhood, her father had told Iris how objects all told stories, and the ancient ones had the best stories of all.
The Highs and Lows
- + Edward. I was thoroughly impressed with Edward’s character, who is nothing but a pretentious ball of nerves. His character reminds me of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, and I couldn’t help but giggle at his dialogue.
- – Bledsoe. Bledsoe also has the propensity to be an ass. His behavior and mannerisms in the beginning, and even about halfway through to Edward, are horrendous. For a gentleman whose reputation and livelihood are somewhat dependent upon other people, he doesn’t act like it. I didn’t like Bledsoe’s character in the beginning. I hoped something bad would happen to him just so he would be gone.
- – Parnabay Cobb. The filthy rich American is some kind of powerful in London and in Paris. His connections are not clear, but he has a definite hold over many. It is like he is a puppet-master and has orchestrated many things in the book, and after the convoy’s arrival in Paris he suspiciously disappears. There are such peculiar things that happen you almost have to wonder if everything that happens wasn’t orchestrated just right and a set-up from the very beginning. His character is still an enigma to me, especially after the way the book ended. I have a feeling he will suddenly reappear in the second book under less than desirable circumstances.
- + Marie. Marie is an interesting character. Like Parnabay Cobb, she also has a suspicious air, and even up until the end I wasn’t quite certain of her loyalties. She acts in such strange ways, but she is very helpful to Iris, so her position was very confusing. Regardless, she is a positive influence and much-needed friend to Iris.
- + Bledsoe. Bledsoe grows as a character and as he and Iris must work together it is like the layers have been peeled back and there is compassion and concern that become evident on his end – and not just for Edward, but for Iris. Although he still has the item to hold over Iris for blackmail, he becomes a more understanding and sympathetic character. I wasn’t sure if Bledsoe had it in him, so each time a little glimmer of his growth happened, it was heartwarming, because if anyone deserves it, it’s Iris.
- + Suspicion and Intrigue. As Iris continues on with the expedition, she begins unraveling some oddities from the time period they are researching. It seems the Pythagoreans had a very clear-cut organization and Edward and Iris’s research is making a centuries-old underground elitist group come out of the woodwork. Most of the characters have their own issues to deal with (Paranaby Cobb, Bledsoe’s “friends,” The Clockwork Guild, Jeremy Scott to name a few), so it is unclear which occurrences are one of their opposition or something unknown.
- – Lord Jeremy Scott. The man is a pompous waste of body. He clearly has no real brains, and uses his nobility to force Iris into an engagement. He is a filthy snake who won’t give up and makes Iris’s life miserable.
- – Setting. The book begins in 1870 England and as the expedition proceeds, the convoy travels to Paris and then Rome. There were a few times the era and year was referenced in narration, but not as time relative to the expedition. I found the negative commentary about the American “Civil” War unnecessary, especially the reference that it was “a proxy war between England and France.”
I liked the character interaction the most. Each character had their own purposes and motives for accepting their roles in the expedition (or tagging along with it), and they are each focused on different components. Despite the individual’s gains, they all begin to work together to achieve the expedition’s goal.
Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip?
A book full of life and death, blackmail and betrayal, suspicion and secrets? I recommend buying this one.
***** About the Author *****
Cecilia Dominic wrote her first story when she was two years old and has always had a much more interesting life inside her head than outside of it. She became a clinical psychologist because she’s fascinated by people and their stories, but she couldn’t stop writing fiction. The first draft of her dissertation, while not fiction, was still criticized by her major professor for being written in too entertaining a style. She made it through graduate school and got her PhD, started her own practice, and by day, she helps people cure their insomnia without using medication. By night, she blogs about wine and writes fiction she hopes will keep her readers turning the pages all night. Yes, she recognizes the conflict of interest between her two careers, so she writes and blogs under a pen name. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with one husband and two cats, which, she’s been told, is a good number of each. She also enjoys putting her psychological expertise to good use helping other authors through her Characters on the Couch blog post series.
***** Giveaway *****
$25 Amazon or B&N gift card (INT)
Ends Dec. 23rd