Welcome to our Steampunk Revelry! Dance with us. Have a glass of sherry. Today we celebrate Shelley Adina’s new release, A Lady of Resources! Check out my author page here to get a glimpse into my other steampunk books!
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You can choose your friends, but you cannot choose your family … or can you?
Now sixteen, the twins Lizzie and Maggie are educated young ladies who have not been called “the Mopsies” in years … except by their guardian, Lady Claire Trevelyan. With the happy prospect of choosing their own future, the girls can leave their dodgy past behind, and Lizzie can bury her deepest childhood memories where they can do no harm. Upon her graduation from school, Lizzie is awarded an enormous honor—but can she pay the price? Is she ready to be separated from Maggie and become the woman she believes she was meant to be—or will old habits tempt her into defiance and plunge her into disaster?
On a dare, Lizzie picks the wrong man’s pocket and nearly loses her life. But these frightening events bear unexpected fruit: The dream Lizzie holds closest to her heart comes true in a most unexpected way. But this dream, too, comes with a price. Lizzie must decide whether her true family is the one she was born to … or the one she chose that long-ago day when the Lady of Devices steamed into their lives …
Here’s an excerpt:
A Lady of Resources
By Shelley Adina
Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.
Munich, the Prussian Empire
“Of all the infernal instruments man ever made, the corset is the worst.” Lizzie de Maupassant struggled with the hooks on the front of the glossy brocade undergarment, which one had to wear in order to make everything that went on top of it hang properly. “Look at this, Maggie. It bends where it oughtn’t and pokes everywhere else.” She smashed the placket together, which only made the hooks she’d managed already pop apart. “Argh!”
Lizzie flung the wretched thing across the Lady’s room, where it landed on the windowsill like an exhausted accordion.
“Fits of temper won’t solve anything.” Her twin’s tone held no criticism, only reason. “Come on. Let me have a go.”
Maggie rescued the poor corset, bought new for the grand occasion of the graduation of Lady Claire Trevelyan, the girls’ guardian, from the University of Bavaria, and passed it about Lizzie’s chemise- and petticoat-clad form.
“I don’t miss the old lace-ups,” Lizzie said, feeling calmer as Maggie’s clever fingers made short work of the row of hooks, “but I’ll say this for them—they were more forgiving of a mort’s curves than these new ones. Even if it were made specially for me.”
“Don’t say mort.”
“Ent nobody here but us. We don’t have to be so careful about our diction and deportment—” She mimicked the squeaky tones of Mademoiselle Dupree, the mistress of their class by that name. “—when we’re on our own.”
“The Lady says that’s the test of a true lady—that she does the right thing even when nobody’s looking.”
“Aye, more’s the pity,” Lizzie sighed. “We might pass our exams, but we’ll never remember everything she probably knew by the time she was ten.”
The door opened and the Lady herself breezed in. “All who knew? Goodness, Lizzie, we’re to be in the ballroom in two hours and you’re not even dressed, to say nothing of your hair.”
Maggie patted the corset and released her. “Won’t be a tick, Lady.” The corset now lay obediently where it ought, hugging Lizzie’s waist into a satisfyingly narrow width, and flaring out over hips and bust, which possessed dimensions not quite so satisfying. The Lady said to give it time, that she herself had been eighteen before resigning herself to a sylph-like silhouette rather than the majestic curves fashion now favored. But if one didn’t have an idea of one’s silhouette by now, then the odds weren’t very good, were they?
And now that you’ve met young Lizzie, the heroine of A Lady of Resources, let us take our glasses of sherry over here behind this cluster of potted palms, and chat with her!
Shelley: Lizzie, what a lovely dress. That shade of green suits you. May I introduce you to our readers?
Lizzie: How do you do, mesdames? [curtsies]
Shelley: Nicely done, for a girl who spent her formative years in the alleyways and catwalks of 1880s Whitechapel. Can you tell us how you got here from there?
Lizzie: My sister Maggie and I were in a street gang led by Snouts McTavish, doing whatever we could to stay alive—pickpocketing, thieving, con jobs, rag picking. Maggie and I were the scouts of the gang on big jobs—we’d keep an eye out for the bobbies, and whistle or make bird sounds to let the boys know someone was coming. Everything changed when the Lady found us—that’s Lady Claire Trevelyan, our guardian. She taught us our letters and numbers, and how to pour a cup of tea, and how to live without having to lie and cheat and steal. She taught us cowboy poker so the boys could make a living in the gambling halls, and mechanics and chemistry, too. When we met Count von Zeppelin and he offered to sponsor her education if she would come work for him after she graduated, Maggie and I went with her to Munich. And here we are, freshly graduated from the fifth form at the lycée!
Shelley: You are to be commended for pulling yourselves up by your bootstraps, as the expression is in the Americas.
Lizzie: We had lots of help, ma’am.
Shelley: So now that you have graduated, what are your plans?
Lizzie: [hesitates] There is a little difficulty. You see, I want to go to finishing school in Geneva, but Maggie wants to go back to Munich with the Lady and begin sixth-form classes. We’ve never been separated in our whole lives, and I don’t want to begin now. Somehow I have to convince her to come to Switzerland with me.
Shelley: What has caused this difference of opinion between you?
Lizzie: I don’t think she or the Lady really realize that we’re not just going to be able to waltz into the Belgravia drawing rooms that receive the best families. Underneath it all, you see, we’re nobodies—alley mice, we’ve been called. Street sparrows. But at least if we go to finishing school, we’ll be able to, um, fake it. And we’ll meet people there and make friends with girls who can introduce us into the finer circles that their families inhabit.
Shelley: But what about your education?
Lizzie: I have all the education a lady needs, thank you. I think a woman can have just as much influence in the world through fine manners and good connections as she can knowing how to fly a velocithopter or build a steam engine. Goodness knows there are enough of those in the world already.
Shelley: I think Lady Claire would tell you that a woman is capable of being more than merely an ornament to society.
Lizzie: You’ve been talking to her, haven’t you?
Shelley: I have, as it happens. She loves you very much and only wants the best for you. Well, I see a young gentleman hovering behind the palms. I believe he wishes to ask you to dance.
Lizzie: That’s only Tigg. He was in our gang in the old days, but now he’s a lieutenant aboard Lady Lucy. That’s the airship belonging to Lord and Lady Dunsmuir, who are great friends of ours and who own diamond mines in the Canadas. They are exceedingly rich—but Lady Dunsmuir came from beginnings as, er, unusual as mine. She is the very model of womanhood to which I aspire. May I be excused?
Shelley: Of course you may. Enjoy yourself, and thank you for talking with us!
Lizzie: [curtsies again and is whirled into the crowd of dancers by the handsome young lieutenant]
Shelley: I think Lizzie’s aspirations may be a source of conflict sooner rather than later. But she is a young lady of singular resources, so I am sure she will figure it out. Let us adjourn to the buffet, shall we?
PRIZE UPDATE: Congrats to bn100! You won the gift certificate!
Current and upcoming steampunk novels
- Lady of Devices (also in audiobook, with ebook free on all major retailers!) – Book 1
- Her Own Devices (audiobook coming in October) – Book 2
- Magnificent Devices – Book 3
- Brilliant Devices – Book 4
- A Lady of Resources – Book 5
- A Lady of Spirit – Book 6
- A Lady of Integrity – Book 7
- A Gentleman of Means – Book 8