When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch….
Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of them.The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.
Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help—and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.
But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on—even if it seems no one believes her.
Harlequin has been extremely gracious to allow me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release at the end of this month, and I must say I really enjoyed it. The more steampunk I read, the more I really like this fantasy genre, and I can’t believe I wasn’t aware of it before I picked up this series. The Girl in the Steel Corset was a really interesting novel, though I have to say this: it reminded me of The Great Mouse Detective. Did you see that Disney cartoon from… I don’t know, about twenty years ago? I’m not sure if it’s even still in circulation, but I have it on VHS, and I must say that there are a lot of similarities between that cartoon and this novel. No spoilers, I promise, but if you’ve seen that cartoon, then you’ll have a pretty good understanding of what takes place in this novel. That being said, I’m not sure if it’s because of that movie, or because of the foreshadowing Cross uses in her novel, but I was able to decipher the Machinists plans early on in the story. That didn’t take away from the intensity of the novel in any way, and it was still suspenseful, but I wasn’t as surprised as I would have liked to have been. I think Cross’ writing style makes up for the fact that I wasn’t as surprised, as she kept me interested and turning the pages through her action packed prose, and I had a great time getting to know the characters as well. I like Finley a lot, though I do believe she has a bit of an inferiority complex, which I hope disappears in the next installment of the series. Finley second guesses herself a lot, and believes herself an outsider in nearly all situations. She is still a very strong character, with amazing strength and agility, but I wasn’t a fan of her disposition, on many occasions, when she dealt with Griffin and his band of misfits.
I read and reviewed the prequel, The Strange Case of Finley Jayne yesterday, and I really enjoyed that novella as well, though I was surprised that The Girl in the Steel Corset seemed very disconnected from the novella. Perhaps the novella was just created to shed light on Finley’s character, but I was under the impression that she knew about her strange abilities and could control them. Yet, in The Girl in the Steel Corset, Finley seems to be struggling with her identity much more than she did in the prequel. That aside, though, I enjoyed both the novella and the novel, and recommend them both, though you do not need them in any particular order. Three stars.