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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stealing Utopia by Tilda Booth

Stealing Utopia (A Silk, Steel and Steam Story) by Tilda Booth
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Suspense/Mystery, sci-fi/fantasy, steam punk
Length: Short Story (78 pgs)
Heat Level: sensual
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Water Lily

The plan: Kidnap H.G. Wells. Definitely not part of the plan: Falling in love.

A Silk, Steel and Steam story.

The year is 1897, the place, a Britain that could have been, but never was. H. George Wells is helping lead Britain into a new Golden Age, driven by technological advances and discoveries of the human brain. Then one night a beautiful woman abducts him at gunpoint, and she seems to despise everything he’s worked for. Despite his outrage, he can’t help but be intrigued by this adventuress and her passion for her cause.

Jane Robbins, agent provocateur, has reason to fear her country’s march towards a new world order. Using her wits and her arsenal of spy gadgets to infiltrate Wells’ house, she delivers him to her employer, who plans to use him as leverage to halt the coming Utopia. But when Wells’ life is threatened, she must choose between saving him or sacrificing him to the cause.

Scientist and spy, they are irresistibly drawn to each other even as the future pushes them apart.

I love it when I learn things about a time period without even trying. Booth brings 1897 England to life in her suspenseful story of the kidnapping of H. G. (George) Wells. The technology, conflicting mores of the time (Victorian standards vs. women’s rights, and the rights of the poor vs. the rights of the privileged), along with the rise of technology sparked by a group of highly imaginative and innovative men, paint the rich tableau in which this story is set. The amount of information Booth incorporated into this story without the slightest hint of author intrusion or information dumping was amazing.

The chemistry between Jane Robbins and George Wells added spark and depth to this story. I liked Jane from the start and the motivation behind her actions added to my respect for her. Using real people as characters can be tricky, but Booth did a great job. She used realistic details and future political and social leanings of the actual man to add the character while providing a fictional romance. The real H. G. Wells didn’t have the happily ever after Booth gave him, but many of the other details in his life were true. Even the title harkens to the real Wells’ interests. History notes that he enjoyed Thomas More’s “Utopia”.

I liked the plot’s twists and turns and was surprised by who financed the kidnapping. I was especially tickled by how the happily ever after was achieved—a lot to accomplish in a mere 78 pages.

If you are looking for a quick read, jam packed with history, romantic chemistry, and intrigue, I recommend Stealing Utopia—A Silk, Steel and Steam Story.