When Captain Rafe Lancaster is invalided out of the Britannic Imperium’s Aero Corps after crashing his aerofighter during the Second Boer War, his eyesight is damaged permanently, and his career as a fighter pilot is over. Returning to Londinium in late November 1899, he’s lost the skies he loved, has no place in a society ruled by an elite oligarchy of powerful Houses, and is hard up, homeless, and in desperate need of a new direction in life.
Everything changes when he buys a coffeehouse near the Britannic Imperium Museum in Bloomsbury, the haunt of Aegyptologists. For the first time in years, Rafe is free to be himself. In a city powered by luminiferous aether and phlogiston, and where powerful men use House assassins to target their rivals, Rafe must navigate dangerous politics, deal with a jealous and possessive ex-lover, learn to make the best coffee in Londinium, and fend off murder and kidnap attempts before he can find happiness with the man he loves.
This was good...like really, really good...
While I really enjoy steampunk, I have to admit I'm kinda' picky about what I read. I've had this book for a while now and I kept doing that thing where I squirrel off to this and that but when I saw that a second book was being released I decided that it was time to buckle down and get it done and I am more than a little happy that I did.
'The Gilded Scarab' is my first time reading a book by this author and let me just say 'not only is this Ms. Butler's wheel house she is in the driver's seat' and before the end of the first chapter I was more than a little confused as to why I didn't read this sooner.
I was totally enamored with both the world building and the character development. The world building in this story was huge which can sometimes be an obstacle for me because I admit I can become bored in spite of the fact that world building especially in genres like scifi, fantasy or steampunk can be as crucial to the story as the characters and plot but Ms Butler has created a story here that perfectly mixes the development of plot, characters and world building both getting and keeping my attention no matter what the story focus was at the time.
Rafe Lancaster is the main character and the focus of much of this story and he's awesome. Rafe became a fighter pilot in an effort to remove himself from his families influence and basically because flying is his passion. Unfortunately the resulting injury from an accident forces Rafe out of the Aero Corps and into making some life changes...one of which is his return to Londinium.
Rafe's return to the place of his birth also brings him under closer scrutiny from his house...houses are the social system that this society functions under and their influence over the individual members is both considerable and unwanted by Rafe.
When Rafe takes his maiden journey back into society he meets one Ned Winters. It's just suppose to be casual, no attachments, an evenings dalliance. But as their evening progresses each man realizes that they want more than one night and how much they enjoy each others company...unfortunately Ned is an Aegyptologist and about to leave for Aegypt for a few months separating him and Rafe before things can really even start between them. Rafe's efforts to reintegrate himself into society and rebuild his life goes from challenging to more than a little complicated as new people enter his life and old friends re-emerge.
With Ned gone Rafe throws himself into rebuilding his life and becomes the owner of a coffee house...how can you not love a man who appreciates coffee? Personally I'm not even going to try and honestly I just like Rafe. He's someone I'd sit down and have coffee with. With the successful launch of his coffee house Rafe again ventures out into society looking for company and finding an entanglement that may be a whole lot more than he'd bargained for...especially once Ned returns. Things begin to get more than a little bit complicated and interesting as Rafe and Ned are reunited and realize that one night months ago was only a small sample of what they could have and despite the obstacles both men want more.
I was so enchanted with this story it's twist, turns and complexities drew me in and kept me both interested and wanting more. This is neither a simple nor easy story it's filled with twist, turns and complexities as the story unfolds while this story contains two plots the first one being an over all arc that begins with this book but continues, the second plotline is contained within this book but still connected to the overall story arc and the growing relationship between Rafe and Ned.
As the first book in Anna Butler's series "Lancaster's Luck"...'The Gilded Scarab' undertakes a big task setting the scene for a series that's filled with a diverse group of characters, it's own unique settings, social structure and story lines that take the reader to a different place and time, but it's a task that's been accomplished and has left this reader wanting more so I'm definitely on board for whatever comes next at the Lancaster's Luck Coffee House...anyone care to join me for a little adventure and a cuppa'?
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Reading gives us someplace to go, when we have to stay where we are. (Mason Cooley)
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