Jack the Ripper might be in town. But is marriage more terrifying?
In an alternate Deep South in 1890, society reporter Adele de la Pointe wants to make her own way in the world, despite her family’s pressure to become a society wife. Hoping to ruin herself as a matrimonial prospect, she seizes the opportunity to cover the recent Jack the Ripper-style murders for the newspaper, but her father's dashing new intern suggests a more terrifying headline—marriage.
Dr. Phillip Rawley’s most daring exploit has been arriving at his new home in America in a hot air balloon. A tolerable sacrifice, if it means he can secure the hand of his new employer’s daughter in a marriage of convenience. But Adele works, she's spirited, and she has an armored pet monkey running her errands. Not only does she not match his notions of a proper lady, she stirs up feelings he’d rather keep in tight control.
With Adele hunting down a headline and Dr. Rawley trying to protect and pursue her, a serial killer is spreading panic throughout Mobile, Alabama. Can Adele and Rawley find the murderer, face their fears, and discover true love?
Quarles (Must Love Breeches) builds a sprightly 1890s steampunk Alabama where ladies have metal parasol holders installed in their backs and automated balloons are available for rental, but its gender roles are strictly traditional, and America appears devoid of people of color. Dr. Phillip Rawley, having promised to marry a surgeon's daughter in exchange for treatment for his maimed sister, is surprised that his intended fianc e, Adele de la Pointe, would rather investigate the murders of prostitutes than settle into an engagement. Adele urges Phillip to accept his dashing nature as he gets used to her brazenness, and soon they've fallen in love. The two of them make a great team, even when Adele's pet monkey makes it a team of three. Quarles's world is slapdash, sanitized, and not quite exaggerated enough to offer the thrill of good adventure writing, and the sex is a bit too emotionless to satisfy romance lovers, but the story moves quickly and readers should at least be amused. (BookLife)