Friday, March 7, 2014

How to Catch a Professor (Without Even Trying)

Published:  January 20th, 2014
Prudence and the Professor (Brides of Jubilee #1)
By: Sibelle Stone
Moon Valley Publishing
ASIN #:  B00I0B8Y22

Civil War widow Prudence Worthington has vowed to never again be at the mercy of a man.  She's determined to make her own way in the world after being one of the first women to graduate from a business school in upstate New York.  In search of adventure and independence she takes a position as a personal secretary to an eccentric inventor and heads to Montana territory.

Professor Gerritt Rhineheart must develop his newest invention to meet a critical deadline.  Someone is willing to do almost anything to stop him, and the distraction of a raven-haired beauty he hired as his secretary makes it impossible to concentrate.  But he must stay focused, especially when his invention could change the course of the War-Between-the-States.

Discover a rollicking steampunk romance from an award-winning author.   The first book in the Brides of Jubilee series.


     Anyone who knows me, knows that I tend to avoid most things steampunk related.  I like my complicated world-building and overall book surroundings to be more fantasy than mech in their flavor.  But occasionally there will be a steampunk novel that will sneak its way into my to-read pile.  Because of the fact that this was marketed first and foremost as a historical romance, this one crawled in through the breach!  I was interested because the cover doesn't scream steampunk OR typical, historical romance, at all, and I wanted to read it and find out how it would turn out.  I enjoyed the fact that Prudence, while still fairly young for a widow and heroine, is a strong and independent woman.  She has graduated from business college and wants to run her own secretarial school one day.  After being stuck living with her cruel mother-in-law, who treated her like an unpaid servant, and was abusive verbally and physically, Prudence wants to make a way for herself.  She wants to control her own destiny and help other women do that as well.  Plus, she's sassy, kind of awkward, and pretty darn funny!
     Professor Gerritt Rhineheart is a colleague of her Uncle's, so Prudence starts corresponding with him and takes the position as his secretary.  But Gerritt hired her mainly because the tintype (photo) she sent him made her look plain, unappealing and downright ugly  He figures she won't be getting married away from her job anytime soon, so it's safe to hire her to help him out.  Well, the tintype just turns out to be a bad picture day.  Prudence is very pretty and also, very distracting to Professor Rhineheart himself.  With Prudence and Gerritt getting into compromising situations at every turn, his inappropriate bawdy housekeeper Alma trying to get them together, the Confederates trying to steal the designs for his game-changing invention, and someone trying to harm Prudence, can Gerritt truly resist falling in love?  Especially when Prudence is falling right along with him?
     What drew me in was the approachability of these characters.  Prudence is by no means a prissy, perfect widow.  She is flawed, slightly lust-driven and sometimes says things she knows she shouldn't.  Gerritt is insecure, but beyond charming and the sex appeal just oozes off the page in every encounter between the two of them.  Sure, the verbal exchanges are a bit corny sometimes.  And the "high action" sequence at the end of the book, meant to resolve the mystery, is by no means unpredictable.  I knew who the villain was going to be less than halfway through.  But this book tickled my funny bone, tugged at my heart and had some truly awesome characters.  It was a sweet romance (if a bit sexually unrealistic, in terms of their somewhat weak surrender & societal disregard a great deal of the time), and the supporting characters were wonderful too.  I loved Alma, who teaches Prudence to shoot a revolver and a rifle, gives her sex advice (and unsolicited stories from her bedroom, set when her husband was alive), and can cook like nobody's business.  She's a scary, warm and fuzzy teddy bear.  And somewhat of a man-eater.  I adored her so much.  Alma is the latter day Golden Girl of the Wild West romance genre!  
     Also, Gerritt reminded me SO MUCH of Nathan Fillion in his role as Mal on Firefly - only with slightly more common sense and more academia.  But the way the reader is introduced to his character is very swashbuckling, daring hero-esque.  The cover model also does not help to dissuade me from this notion.  I also love the cover of this one and it's relation to the actual story!  Prudence and Gerritt look just how they're described, all the way down to her horribly ugly hat with the stuffed, dead birds on it!  Overall, even with some mech tendencies, the focus in this one was more on the romance.  I recommend it to fans of light, humorous historical romance who don't mind a slight bit of alternative history.  Also, fans of Nathan Fillion.  Be prepared for Gerritt Rhineheart to melt your panties with his daring, tragic backstory and sweet talking ways!

VERDICT:  4/5  Stars

*I received this book from Moon Valley Publishing, on NetGalley.  No favors or money were exchanged for this review.  This book was published on January 20th, 2014.*

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