Title: Under Her Brass Corset
Author: Brenda Williamson
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: February 27, 2012
Rating: 2.75 out of 5
The title and cover of this novel are a bit misleading. Under Her Brass Corset appears at first glance to be a steampunk novel, but in fact it is more fantasy, with a few steampunk elements. While I found the premise of the novel interesting - an immortal captain falls for the young woman he’s been watching over since childhood - I found the book to be a bit disjointed. The book isn’t badly written; it just isn’t well written either, so I have a hard time recommending it.
Set in what seems to be Victorian England but is never really identified as such, the novel begins with Abigail Thatch making her way home alone, attempting to avoid any dangerous encounters. She meets Captain Jasper Blackthorn in what appears to be a fortuitous meeting, and there’s an instant chemistry between them. Abigail informs her new friend that her father was recently murdered during an attempted burglary, and she is unable to make the mortgage payments on the house, which will soon lead to foreclosure on her family home.
But after another burglary attempt is made, Captain Jasper Blackthorn discovers the object the thief was looking for - a globe that can point out the location of an elixir that grants immortality. The Captain is an immortal and has looked out for Abigail and her family for generations, and he realizes that this compass, long believed lost, can only attract more danger to the vulnerable Abigail. He steals the compass, little realizing that Abigail would follow him to his steam powered ship and climb aboard, insisting on joining him in his adventures. But the honorable captain finds this spirited young woman irresistible. Can he convince the skeptical Abigail of both his love and his immortality?
This novel started out with a great deal of promise. Abigail comes across as very brave in the face of daunting circumstances, namely her father’s death and the imminent foreclosure on her home. She’s very attracted to Jasper, and he is mysterious yet sympathetic. I was a bit surprised, however, by how quickly Abigail jumps into bed with Jasper. I just never felt very invested in the hero and heroine, and their romance, while steamy, didn’t draw me in. Jasper is supposed to be much, much older, yet he acts as though he’s only a few years older than Abigail. When I looked back over my notes about the book, the beginning of their physical relationship seems to be the point where the book goes downhill for me.
Once Abigail and Jasper are on his flying ship (one of the few steampunk elements in the novel), their physical relationship goes into high gear, despite Abigail’s refusal to believe Jasper’s assertions that he is immortal and that she’s related to the infamous pirate Blackbeard, who Jasper claims is also immortal. The action also picks up at this point. We learn about the elixir and its Avalon connection, and all that entails. I was surprised by what felt like a sudden shift in genre from steampunk to fantasy. I don’t particularly mind when an author mixes genres, but it felt awkward in this novel, since the book began in one genre then switched to another with little transition.
This wasn’t badly written, but it wasn’t as engaging as I had hoped. I would feel badly if a friend spent her money on this book, so I can’t really recommend it.