Blue Ribbon Rating: 3 out of 5 Original Review Link
All Philadelphia Hardcastle wanted to do was invent machines to make her family’s farm operation more profitable. After learning that her brother sold her inventions to the British Air Enforcement — who then manipulated and turned her technology onto people — Philadelphia feels there’s no better penance for what she’s done than taking her own life.
When smuggler and airship builder Brecon Gravenor rescues a woman from the edge of a cliff, he has no idea he’s just saved the infamous “Dr. Castle.” Even after he learns the truth, it’s clear to him that Philadelphia’s no monster. But the smugglers Brecon works with don’t see it that way. They’re determined to have Philadelphia make inventions for their own purposes.
Philadelphia is eager to help undo the damage the BAE has done, but she’s not happy being thrown in a jail cell with Brecon and commanded to work. Philadelphia will have to work with her unlikely rescuer if she ever hopes to escape. What she doesn’t expect is to find love with her handsome cellmate.
As one might expect in a story with two inventors for protagonists, the true uniqueness of CAPTAIN GRAVENOR’S AIRSHIP EQUINOX comes from the inventions. Author Heather Hiestand develops fascinating steampunk technology in CAPTAIN GRAVENOR’S AIRSHIP EQUINOX and I admit that my interest in the world building outweighed my interest in the romance in this third STEAMPUNK SMUGGLERS tale. That being said, Brecon and Philadelphia are by no means bad characters. They’re survivors with intelligence, kindness and general likeability which make it easy to hope that they beat the odds and find happiness. Yet, while I liked Brecon and Philadelphia, I was never really invested in either the romance aspect or the twists and turns of the danger plotline in CAPTAIN GRAVENOR’S AIRSHIP EQUINOX. When compared to Ms. Hiestand’s previous STEAMPUNK SMUGGLERS tale, CAPTAIN FENNA’S DIRIGIBLE VALENTINE, I felt there was something almost inexplicable missing in Philadelphia and Brecon’s story.
CAPTAIN GRAVENOR’S AIRSHIP EQUINOX is the third STEAMPUNK SMUGGLERS story, but it can be read as a standalone. Fans of the series will undoubtedly be delighted by mentions of characters from the first two tales, CAPTAIN ANDREW’S FLYING CHRISTMAS and CAPTAIN FENNA’S DIRIGIBLE VALENTINE. While CAPTAIN GRAVENOR’S AIRSHIP EQUINOX wasn’t my favorite story in the STEAMPUNK SMUGGLERS series, it is an inventive tale and I did enjoy reading it.
Note: My review was written for Romance Junkies and is cross-posted here courtesy of Romance Junkies.