Dragons & Dirigibles (The Gaslight Chronicles #7) by Cindy Spencer Pape
The stories surrounding the marvellously rich group of people we know from the Gaslight Chronicles continue to be mined.
Melody McKay an airship engineer, pilot and member of the Order of the Round Table, is testing her dirigible's new engine design over the Devonshire coast when either the boiler or generator inexplicably explodes. She crashes into the parklands in front of Black Heath Manor. Fortunately the damage to her is minor, bruises and a sprained ankle. Her Scottish deerhound Birch (who has his own set of specially designed goggles--how cute and practical!) is fine too.
Captain Victor Arrington, the current Earl of Blackwell has returned from his first love, the sea, to take up the lordly reins and care for his niece Emma when his brother, the late Earl, and his sister-in-law are killed in an accident. He and Barnaby, his trusty ex shipmate now butler, are scouring the rocks looking for evidence of smugglers who have been plaguing the area. They have seen a large strange crab like apparatus climbing out of the water and disappearing into the rock face. Are the two connected?
Emma is an extremely intelligent and precocious ten year old. Victor is a gruff, loveable person, just with outmoded ideas about women. Although as Nell declares, 'There's a sense of strength about him. A woman would always feel safe with him nearby.'
Victor has little experience with children and thinks to train Emma to be a future lady of the manor (whatever that might mean), maybe ensconced in doing embroidery and good works! That plan was doomed before Melody arrived, and is doubly so when Emma sees what women can do. Emma was already nose deep in history and scientific tomes, bargaining with her uncle over against his wishes for her to read something more ladylike--a novel perhaps? Hmm! Somehow I think not!
Strange events come to pass and Victor and Melody pretend to be engaged to throw any informants for the smugglers off the scent. Victor, against his better judgement is attracted to Melody...and Melody?...Well?
Backup arrives in the form of Melody's foster siblings Tom Devere and Nell Hadrian along with Miss Dorothy to chaperone.
There is more going on at Black Heath Manor than thought and all are in danger before the end is in sight.
A NetGalley ARC