Review: Cards and Caravans by Cindy Spencer Pape

Cards and Caravans by Cindy Spencer PapeFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, audiobook
Genre: steampunk romance
Series: Gaslight Chronicles, #5
Length: 129 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Released: March 18, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Belinda Danvers isn’t a witch. But that won’t stop them burning her at the stake…

Connor McKay can tell at a glance that Belinda’s magickal powers are minimal at best. She can’t be guilty of murdering village children. There’s something suspicious about her arrest and lightning-quick sentence. Unfortunately, telling anyone how he knows would mean revealing his own powers. He’s been sent by the Order of the Round Table to help and he can’t just let her die.

Escaping from jail and running from vindictive villagers in her grandfather’s steam-powered caravan is more excitement than Belinda’s had in years. And despite the danger–or maybe because of it–she loves the time spent with her sexy rescuer. But there’s more to his magick than he’s letting on…

There’s something going on that’s bigger than the two of them. It’s time for good to make a stand.

My Review:

Cindy Spencer Pape’s Gaslight Chronicles are tremendously fun. They are a combination of steampunk and fantasy, with mechanical creatures existing alongside the descendants of King Arthur’s Knights.

One of the best parts of the series is that she has continued to follow the adventures of one particular group of the Knights. So we get to see the developments of relationships, not just the ones that succeed, but also what happens to those who are not-so-lucky in love.

Or at least not-so-lucky the first time around.

Moonlight and mechanicals by Cindy Spencer PapeConnor Mackay was the unsuccessfuly contender for Wink Hadrian’s hand in marriage. Connor was never going to win that contest, because she had been carrying a torch for Liam McCullough. (The story of their courtship, and their foiling of a plot to bring down the monarchy, is marvelously told in Moonlight & Mechanicals)

But that left Connor at rather dangerous loose ends. So when Zara, a Rom who is trusted by the Order, calls to say that her granddaughter is in grave danger, Connor is perfectly happy to hare off to the north of Scotland to investigate.

What he finds is a beautiful woman in a dank jail cell, convicted of witchcraft and sentenced to be burned at the stake in the morning.

When he can’t convince the local magistrate to wait until he can investigate the extremely hasty trial and sentencing, Connor breaks the woman out of jail and runs away with her.

The fact that she is an exotically beautiful spitfire has no bearing on his actions. Absolutely none. (Hah!)

Belinda Danvers is innocent of the crime. She isn’t even a witch. However she does have a gift for magick, and an unwillingness to be anyone’s mistress just because she’s a widow and a Rom.

Of course, what happened to Belinda is not as simple as a jealous man striking out. It’s only the tip of a plot to wipe out foreign magick practitioners across Scotland.

And what’s happens between Connor and Belinda isn’t simple, either. But it does make Connor realize that Wink is not the woman he wanted or needed.

He just has to make Belinda realize that. If he can keep the madman who started this whole mess from killing her.

Steam and Sorcery by Cindy Spencer PapeEscape Rating B+: I couldn’t put this down, but it probably works better if you’ve read the whole series. If you have, it’s like catnip. Or potato chips. You can’t eat (read) just one. Start with Steam & Sorcery. (And yes, I’ve said that before. Spencer Pape’s Gaslight Chronicles are awesome steampunk!)

The circus setting used to capture the perpetrator was fascinating. Circus caravans would have been much different in the late 19th century, even in this steampunk/magick world, than in our universe. I’d love to have seen more of the circus life that Belinda came from, or how the circus operated with the Knights playing the circus parts.

The plot that captured Belinda was a bit thin to be as big as it was, or the description of it was not as detailed as I might have liked. It might have been better if the book had been just a bit longer. Since so many magick users were killed because of the plot, and so many “innocent” townsfolk were caught up in it, more details would have been good.

Connor and Belinda are terrific together. I’m glad to see a heroine that had some experience, and that Connor found happiness. He’d earned it. I can’t wait for the next book in this series. I know who I hope are the protagonists, but we’ll see. Hopefully soon?

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