Thursday, April 25, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013 ~ V ~ Viridis by Calista Taylor

In steampunk Victorian London, where airships dot the sky and tinkerings abound, Lady Phoebe Hughes develops an herbal elixir, Viridis, unlike any other. London's elite flock to her club to experience the euphoria and heightened senses the drink brings, an orgasm brought on by a single kiss. But when Lord Hawthorne is murdered after leaving her club, Phoebe is shocked to find that not only was he working for the Special Services to infiltrate the Cause, a movement fighting for the city's poor, he was also in possession of her secret formulation for Viridis.

Adding to her difficulties is the unexpected return of Mr. Seth Elliott, a brilliant tinkerer who stole her heart and imagination, only to abandon her when she needed him most. Unable to ignore all that is between them, Phoebe finds herself falling for Seth once again, only to have a powerful rival for her affections wrongly accuse Seth of attempted murder. As Phoebe struggles with a way to free her love, revolution, conspiracy and murder threaten to ruin it all.

*** Author's note: Some scenes are not suitable for those under 18 years of age. ***

My Review:

Ok. First let me second the author's note that is put in with the blurb.  There are definitely "some scenes" that "are not suitable  for those under 18."  Just want to point that out before I go any further. (more on that in a sec) Second there are going to be a major spoiler in this review. That being said don't say I didn't warn you.

Alright, for the most part I really enjoyed this novel.

I loved the way the story was written.  The author brought the combination of romance,steampunk, and mystery together wonderfully.  The steampunk was fun, I liked all the gadgets that the author created.  The romance was definitely swoon-worthy. Seth and Phoebe so right for each other.The mystery! Even up 'til the end I thought I knew who the guilty parties were and I was mostly right, but the twist was definitely a good one.
I liked the characters. Not just the main characters, but even the supporting ones as well. They had personality and made me want to learn more about them too.  I also liked how they interacted with each other and how their relationships developed.

Now I did say 'for the most part' so lets get onto the part that I didn't like.  Lets start with the minor frivolous parts. There were some editing issues.  For example one minute it says that Phoebe has turned away from Seth. Then a few lines later it says she turns away from him.  It didn't really ruin my enjoyment of the book, but it agitated me that things like this happened more than once in the book. Considering how well the book was written otherwise this is something that I feel should have been caught at some point before the book went to the public.  Again a frivolous complaint in the fact that it is my personal pet peeve, and the overall awesomeness of the book makes me want to overlook it.

Now for the main part of my issue with the book and the spoiler. (again you've been warned.) Also here is a prime example of the 18+ warning (told you we'd get back to that).
Ok. There is one scene in the book that REALLY tainted the book for me.  Fortunately it came at the end of the book so it wasn't like it ate at me for the whole thing, but it just really turned my stomach.
It was the scene were Phoebe goes to Victor in an attempt to talk him out of pressing charges against Seth.  At first I kept thinking that at some point someone was going to come to Phoebe's rescue. Even after Victor gave Phoebe a huge dose of Viridis so that she would be forced to enjoy him whether she wanted to or not. Even after she was naked in his room. I kept thinking "ok someone is going to break down the door". Didn't happen.  I understand why she did what she did. I get it.  Seth's understanding of her actions later in the book marks how much they love each other. Fine. That part made me sad for Phoebe, that she wasn't rescued and had to basically allow someone to rape her to save her love.  And don't make the mistake of saying it wasn't rape because she went into it willingly.  She was coerced into such a position that if she didn't let Victor do what he wanted that her fiance would die. That's not giving consent, because consent implies that there is a choice. In Phoebe's mind and her world she really didn't have one. Again it made me said for Phoebe but it wasn't the actual part that turned my stomach.
The part that did was the scenes that followed describing the sexual acts that Victor committed on Phoebe. How he whipped her, sodomized her, and while mentally she wasn't into it the Viridis made her body enjoy and get off on it.  In a way it felt that those short sex scenes between Victor and Phoebe were more descriptive than the multiple love scenes between Phoebe and Seth that are scattered throughout the book. I understand that maybe the author was trying to make sure how Phoebe felt. But I think this is one of those cases were less would have been more.  The fact that I really wasn't expecting it to happen combined with the graphicness of it really I think is what made that scene that much more disturbing to me.
 Did I enjoy the book? In general yes. Would I read more of Taylor's work? Yes. But it would be with the knowledge that there is the potential for above scenes in future work.  It wouldn't stop me from reading more books in this series or by this author, but it would still be in the back of my mind that none of his characters are above any horror, even if they are the main character. Also that even though the main characters romance might achieve a happily ever after, the rest of their lives might not be so happy.
There I said what really bothered me about the book. Overall I loved it except for those two issues.  I hope I didn't ruin the book for anyone, and I said ahead of time that there was a major spoiler in the review.  I would still read more by the author.  I would still recommend this book, but I had to be honest and say how I felt.

This post is part of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2013.


  1. I think this was great review and really comprehensive. That final scene would probably cause me the same issues you had as would the not noticing someone already having turned away. It sounds like a great book, that maybe needed just a tiny bit of extra work before release.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed my review. Thanks for stopping by!