Size Doesn’t Matter (57): Steeplejack; The Duke & I

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (57): Steeplejack; The Duke & ISteeplejack by A.J. Hartley
Series: Alternative Detective #1
Published by Tor Teen on June 14, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Mystery
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book Depository

Seventeen-year-old Anglet Sutonga, makes a living repairing the chimneys, towers, and spires of Bar-Selehm. Dramatically different communities live and work alongside one another. The white Feldish command the nation’s higher echelons of society; the native Mahweni are divided between city life and the savannah. And then there’s Ang, part of the Lani community who immigrated there generations ago and now mostly live in poverty on Bar-Selehm’s edges.

When Ang is supposed to meet her new apprentice, Berrit, she finds him dead. That same night the Beacon, an invaluable historical icon, is stolen. The Beacon’s theft commands the headlines, yet no one seems to care about Berrit’s murder—except for Josiah Willinghouse, an enigmatic young politician. When he offers Ang a job investigating the death, she plunges headlong into new and unexpected dangers.

Meanwhile, crowds gather in protests over the city’s mounting troubles. Rumors surrounding the Beacon’s theft grow. More suspicious deaths occur. With no one to help Ang except Josiah’s haughty younger sister, a savvy newspaper girl, and a kindhearted herder, Ang must rely on her intellect and strength to resolve the mysterious link between Berrit and the missing Beacon before the city descends into chaos.

Before it showed up on my doorstep, Steeplejack was only mildly on my radar. I’d featured it in Cover Snark, and I thought the cover was gorgeous, but, other than that, I’d not given it much thought. Thankfully, Steeplejack did appear, because I would have taken a long time to get around to reading it otherwise, and it’s such an adventure.

One thing I’ve bemoaned, even with the advent of more and more diverse books in recent years is that diverse genre fiction still lags behind. Steeplejack has a heavily diverse cast and takes place in a fantasy Africa. The plot deals heavily with racial tensions in a colonized land. On top of that, this is a fantasy novel where women totally dominate, though that’s not the nature of the society in general.

Anglet Sutonga, works as a steeplejack, long past the ages when most girls have quit and moved on to other employment. Anglet is one of the best steeplejacks in the city, skilled at her work and excellent at climbing. Her career comes to an abrupt screeching halt when her apprentice is murdered, her boss tries to rape her, and she stabs said boss.

The weakest part of Steeplejack, I think, is actually the premise whereby Anglet now gets hired on by a random (sorry, Willinghouse, ilu) government official to work as a private detective. No offense to my girl Ang because she’s a total boss bitch, but Willinghouse hiring her made very little sense to me. She has zero qualifications aside from having figured out one detail. She makes a lot of mistakes initially because she has no clue what she’s even doing. They also do not agree on any sort of clear terms about payment or anything, which is weird. That said, I didn’t mind rolling with the premise because it’s still so awesome.

The plot’s excellent fun, though predictable in places. The characters are all very promising and likable, though many could use a bit more fleshing out. There are a couple of potential romances blossoming, which obvs I am down for (Team Willinghouse). Basically, I think Steeplejack‘s a great start to the Alternative Detective series, and I can’t wait to see how Ang and the rest grow.

In case that wasn’t enough to sell you on it, Steeplejack has a baby and many moppets but I still really liked it. So yeah, it’s pretty damn good.

gif mulan climbing

Size Doesn’t Matter (57): Steeplejack; The Duke & IThe Duke and I by Julia Quinn
Series: Bridgertons #1
Published by Avon on April 28, 2015
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 437
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book Depository

Can there be any greater challenge to London’s Ambitious Mamas than an unmarried duke?

—Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers, April 1813

By all accounts, Simon Basset is on the verge of proposing to his best friend’s sister, the lovely—and almost-on-the-shelf—Daphne Bridgerton. But the two of them know the truth—it’s all an elaborate plan to keep Simon free from marriage-minded society mothers. And as for Daphne, surely she will attract some worthy sutiors now that it seems a duke has declared her desirable.

But as Daphne waltzes across ballroom after ballroom with Simon, it’s hard to remember that their courtship is a complete sham. Maybe it’s his devilish smile, certainly it’s the way his eyes seem to burn every time he looks at her… but somehow Daphne is falling for the dashing duke… for real! And now she must do the impossible and convince the handsome rogue that their clever little scheme deserves a slight alteration, and that nothing makes quite as much sense as falling in love…

Ever since I finally dived back into romance (last year? the year before?) I’ve wanted to branch out. Historical romance was my JAM back in high school, but I burned myself out, partially because I read the really terrible ones but whatever. Julia Quinn’s a big name, and I’m pretty sure someone recommended her to me as a nice follow-up to Dare, and oh is she ever.

The night I started this, I actually had trouble falling asleep because I wanted to do nothing but stay up until 4 am finishing The Duke and I. Did I know how it would end? Sure. But, with romance, it’s about the journey and the ship and the banter, not about whether they end up together because duh.

The Duke and I is fluffy, banteresting, adorable, shippy fun. I mean, the heroine and love interest meet after she punches an overly enthusiastic suitor. They proceed to alternate between irritating one another and genuinely having a lot of fun, and the cuteness. Also, Quinn is having so much fun with the dark and broody trope, because sometimes Simon tries to play the classic romance hero and, whenever he does, Daphne just laughs at him. These two have such a great, believable connection precisely because they do talk and laugh together so much.

More than that, I completely adore this family. This series centers on the Bridgerton’s, Daphne’s family. She is one of eight children. At this point, I only really know six of the kids, but they’re all fabulous, and I’m so thrilled to get all of their romances yasssss. Violet, Mummy Bridgerton, is also fabulous. She’s got some Mrs. Bennet qualities on the surface, but underneath she’s made of stern stuff. She raised her brood for years alone, and she loves them fiercely and can keep eight kids well in line. That’s skill.

Despite my love of this book, I had to rate down a full star for one highly problematic scene. It’s interesting because it does flip the traditional romance novel roles, but it’s still really not okay. View Spoiler »

Despite the problematic element, I had so many feels that I really can’t rate lower than this. I’m SO thrilled to have found another fabulous romance author, and I can’t wait to dive into her whole backlist!

gif i don't care i ship it

4 responses to “Size Doesn’t Matter (57): Steeplejack; The Duke & I”

  1. Joanne Levy says:

    YES! I adore the Bridgerton books and honestly would be hard pressed to chose a favorite. Quinn excels at the banter (what I love that not all authors can pull off so successfully) and I am firmly on board with all the ships in these books AND the different ways they all find their HEAs. Looking forward to more of your reviews. 🙂
    Joanne Levy recently posted…How to Show Love to an AuthorMy Profile

  2. Joanne Levy says:

    Actually, maybe I like Colin best. Wait…no, Benedict.
    Never mind. Time for a re-read, obviously.
    Joanne Levy recently posted…How to Show Love to an AuthorMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      YAYYYYY! I’ve been loving the Bridgerton books, and I’m totally planning to go through her backlist, even though I know Bridgerton and after are probably the best ones. Whatevs. I’m a bit obsessive, what can I say.

      Colin’s my fave Bridgerton boy, probably forever, though I suppose I should give Gregory a shot. Though I also really fucking love Simon. ♥

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