Wanted: One Scoundrel

Wanted: One Scoundrel: A Steampunk Christmas Novella - Jenny Schwartz

Every now and then I need to try something new. Expose myself to unfamiliar ideas and experiences. Whether in real life or as a reader - though both worlds are of course necessarily intertwined. In reading, I like experimenting with new authors and new genres, new ideas - even points of view that may challenge my own.


Wanted: One Scoundrel is just such an experiment.


I do not generally read romance because - well, unless it is disguising a dramatic existential dilemma it just doesn't hold my interest. It just one of those things where you cannot alter tastes and preferences.  But every now and then I will pick up a romance novel to see if my tastes have changed. So far, they have not.


Another reason for picking up Wanted: One Scoundrel is that I have never read any steampunk stories. In fact, I had to google "steampunk" just to find out what it was. Again, I enjoy trying new things.


So, how did I fare on this adventure into terra nova? I enjoyed it. It was a fun afternoon of light reading with some quirky characters that very much reminded me of the old tv series Remington Steele.



Similar to Laura Holt in Remington Steele, Esme Smith - the heroine of Wanted: One Scoundrel - finds herself discriminated against because she is a woman and hires a man to overcome the gender bias and pursue her goals acting through her deputy.


Unlike Laura Holt, however, Esme Smith's purpose is far more radical than to merely make a living as a private eye. Esme seeks to change politics and fight for women's suffrage. What ensues is an entertaining caper.


There are some elements of the book that left me cold but, again, this is probably because I really don't care for romance stories. There are also a couple of scenes that did not make much sense to me - but then, hey, I read James Bond novels: Suspension of disbelief is not new to me. And after all, it is a light read with some great historical details about Australia as well as some funky and amusing interludes:   


"She blinked, then smiled. “I would never be so unsubtle. Although…” She reached up and slid a pin from the pert hat. “I ordered these from an American suffragist catalogue called ‘Modern Tools for Modern Women.’ It’s rather like a Swiss Army knife.” An array of clever gadgets unfolded from the unsharpened end, including tweezers, scalpel blade and a needle. “Ingenious.” He handed it back to her. “What else did the catalogue advertise?” She refitted the pin. “Laughter capsules which I believe contain nitrous oxide. Guaranteed to enliven the dullest evening,” she quoted the catalogue with droll amusement."