Review: Kilts & Kraken by Cindy Spencer Pape

Format read:  ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook
Genre: steampunk romance
Series: Gaslight Chronicles #3
Length: 89 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Released: June 4, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance

Magnus, Baron Findlay, longs to bring the wonders of the steam age to his remote island home, but his hands are full fighting the vicious kraken ravaging the coast. When he’s swept to sea during battle and washes up on the shore of an isle in the Hebrides, he is near death.
Struggling to establish herself as one of the first female physicians in Edinburgh, Dr. Geneva MacKay is annoyed when The Order of the Round Table sends her north to care for an injured highlander. To heal him, Geneva escorts the handsome warrior home, just in time to defend the villagers from another onslaught.
As the attacks escalate and they work together to fight off the threat, neither Geneva nor Magnus can resist the overwhelming attraction between them. But as their relationship deepens, a new threat arises-from within the village itself…

Steampunk has two sides to its equation. On one side of the scales, technology went a different path from our history, and parts of it developed sooner than in the world we know. The obvious sign of the change is the prevalence of airships in Victorian England. But there are other technologies that work as well, often teletext or some other fast communication.

What balances those scales? Usually a form of magic. In Spencer Pape’s world, some people have arcane powers. And the things that go bump in the night are real. Vampyres are just hungry undead. And they stink. Werewolves are people who get furry every once in a while.

But what about the rest of the uncanny beasties? Them too. In our history, kraken are the stuff of legend. But so are the Knights of the Round Table.

In Spencer Pape’s Gaslight Chronicles, the descendants of the Knights of the Round Table are still protecting Great Britain. And in the north of Scotland, there’s an island that is getting attacked by kraken, one right after another. Even it’s hereditary laird, Magnus Findlay, who may wear a kilt but looks (and fights) just like a Viking berserker, can’t seem to stop them.

If you’ve got good magic, you’ve got bad magic. Like witches. The laird is tied to the island. It’s part of his power. But if he can’t leave, he can bring modern technology to Torkholm. Until a kraken attack sweeps him far away, all the way to the mainland, where the healing power of his homeland can’t save him.

But the healing power of Dr. Geneva McKay, daughter of the Knights, can keep him alive until his men get him home. And once there, her medical knowledge and her ability to see things as they are, upsets the local herb-women who don’t want anything to change. Ever.

She might even change the heart of a man who has sworn that he’ll never try to marry a woman from the mainland again. Not after his first wife threw herself off out a window rather than stay isolated on Torkholm another minute.

And why would bringing roads to this tiny island cause the kraken to start attacking, after 100 years of quiet seas?

Escape Rating A-: I can’t say that I didn’t know exactly who was bringing the kraken, even the first time I read the story. It’s pretty obvious. It doesn’t matter. The important part of this story is the love between Magnus and Geneva, and the conflict they face about what to do about it. Magnus absolutely must stay on Torkholm, and Geneva won’t stay for anything less than love. But she has a medical practice in Edinburgh, and a life there. Magnus is rightfully afraid to bring another mainland woman to his remote island, after his disastrous first marriage.

The opposition forces were, well a bit obviously witchy. And bitchy. They liked being the most important females because they had healing skills, and wouldn’t have wanted a real doctor on the island, but the attacks started long before that. Some people really, really hate change. Something that is still true.

At least, no one can call up sea monsters. About that recent hurricane…


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