After being instantly drawn to the cover and having recently fallen for all things Steampunky, I sat down to enjoy what I hoped would be a wild adventure with plenty of sizzling sexual chemistry.
However, while I got plenty of rustles between the proverbial bed sheets, I was left rather disappointed. This is a shame, because you could see fragments of a truly brilliant novel hidden beneath.
The book certainly opens with a bang, with our hero, Phaeton Black, readying for a night spent with two prostitutes from the brothel he currently resides under. It’s stated early that Phaeton has a bit of a reputation as a Lothario and a man of healthy appetites since one of his women is only just being introduced to this alternative way of making a living. She protests to the madam about “servicing” Phaeton due to the rumors about his…ahem…appendage.
Phaeton surprised me very early on as he demonstrated a set of commendable morals. Yes, he may be an opium addicted womanizer, but he shows concern for the young girl’s plight and is very gentle with her. He tries to reassure her and even promises that if what is to happen gets too much for her, she can leave.
Before things can progress, Phaeton is interrupted by his friend and former colleague Zander Farrell. (Phaeton had been kicked out of the force after some unfavourable opinions on the Jack The Ripper case. He believed that it had a supernatural element to it). Zander requests his help on a case that seems to resemble the Ripper case, to which Black eventually agrees.
Meanwhile, our leading lady in this tale, America Jones, is currently trying to gather evidence in gaining back a number of vessels that she believes were stolen from her father by his former partner. They were believed to have been lost a sea, which caused her father to go bankrupt.
Right now, I can see you all reading this, thinking “Wow, this sounds like it should be an exciting tale, with pirates and supernatural beings. It has a rather dangerous and dashing hero and a very independent and kick ass heroine.” I wish I could tell you that it was, but both plots disappear very quickly after both of them cross paths.
America, with the pirates hot on her tail practically bumps into Phaeton. She threatens him with a knife and “asks” him to pretend that they are having a liason in the alley. It is right at this point my love of Phaeton began to weaken. Instead of taken her request and pretends they are having sex in the back alley, Phaeton goes the full hog and in what I can only describe as “forced seduction”, he has full intercourse with her.
When America begins to protest, Phaeton counters:-
“Must I remind you,” he gasped, “your blade is at my throat.”
It was clear that Phaeton was taking advantage of America’s situation. She has blood thirsty pirates after her so her options are limited and he knows. Now whether the next part is genuinely America enjoying the “pleasure” that Phaeton bestows on her, I don’t know. The signals are very mixed. It is never made completely clear if America is mocking him, or if she is being consumed by his love-making skills.
After being confronted by the men who were pursuing America, Phaeton only then believes her plight and withdraws from her, after he disarms her. She ends up taking a swing at him and knocking herself out.
From here on in, the book is taken up with the inveitable two step of two people who are attracted to each other. Both have baggage, though Phaeton’s appears to be much more substantial than America’s. Even now I couldn’t tell you much about the supposed actual plot. I know it has some connection to Egyption gods, but ask me for the finer details, and I wouldn’t be able to retell them.
The reason being, I was completely perplexed at how a firey, independent woman like America would so easily fall into the arms of Phaeton. He is such a misogynistic pig at times, blowing hot and cold so much that if it were me I’d have high tailed it out of there in a heartbeat. I’ve read books before where the hero is less than likable to start with, but with Phaeton there is very little. OK, I’ll give him points for the fact he is an absolute stallion between the sheets, but he seems the type of character you would have a dalliance with rather than a long term future.
America, on the other hand at first came across as such a strong character. She had lost everything; her father, her source of incoming, but still she managed to come out swinging. Yet, after Phaeton working his sexual prowess on her, she decends into a love-struck fool. (OK, she denies this at first) I also couldn’t stand how she stated she would not become his concubine in order to secure her position as housekeeper in his humble abode, only to practically fall into bed with him a few pages later.
The saving grace, at least for me was the inclusion of a mysterious character named Dr. Exeter. You find out very little about him in this book, except that he seems to be supernatural in nature, his father was linked to both the ripper case and the supernatural being terrorizing London at present and that he has a charge named Mia. Yet, he is the most compelling of all the charcters in the book. I’m not sure why I was drawn to him, but there is something about him that is just so interesting.
Stone has a certain flair when writing her more amorous scenes in the book and the pages certainly do sizzle with the heat coming off them, but it seems that is all there really is to the book. The other plots appear to be thrown in for good measure, which is a shame as there are some pretty decent foundations for a really good supernatural tale hidden beneath it all.
One final note, the only reference to anything steampunk related is an air-ship. Otherwise it could have been any other regency set romance novel with little spattering’s of the supernatural to season.
I have an ARC of The Moonstone and Miss Jones, but I am not sure whether I really want to read it. Writing this review has helped me clarify why I didn’t really enjoy the book all that much. I do like books with a good splattering of the horizontal tango (depending on the position chosen), it’s just I like a good plot to go with it. I would have given the book the benefit of the doubt, if this was the authors first book, but it isn’t as she has written another series.
There are much more well-rounded books in the same genre out there, two of which I have read recently and really enjoyed; Wicked as They Come by Delilah S Dawson and Tarnished by Karina Cooper, which in my opinion far surpass this.
BUY YOUR COPY