Evelina Cooper, the heroine of The Baskerville Affair series, is the niece of Sherlock Holmes. Naturally, she has to do some detective work in the course of the trilogy, but she also has to fight battles that require more than her brain. Willpower, physical agility, and a dash of magical powers come into play as well—not to mention the feminine wiles required to cope with dashing rakes and steampunk pirates.
Evelina is not alone in this quandary. Steamy heroines are faced with the problem of how to conduct themselves. On one hand there are villain and dangers a-plenty and on the other the requirements of polite society dictate what a well-bred lady can and cannot do. How is a properly-raised young woman expected to cope?
There are five things I believe must be kept foremost in her mind.
- Dress and deportment: Whether battling evil sorcerers, burning up zombies, or taking a turn on the dance floor, a young lady must choose her gown accordingly. Too many ruffles at a graveyard scene are vulgar, and an aether weapon is never welcome at an afternoon musicale, however bad the singers.
- Self-defense: A lady should never carry a weapon that cannot conveniently be carried as an accessory. Parasols are tried and true. Pistols should fit inside one’s reticule—anything larger is cumbersome and likely to clash with one’s accessories. Cleverly, Evelina uses magic which, though illegal, goes with whatever she is wearing.
- Mechanical aptitude: While engaging in a steampunk adventure, an understanding of machinery seems natural. And, of course, even if one actually knows what a thingamajig does, it’s not necessary to admit to the fact. Mechanical emergencies are a fine excuse to engage the attention of another person—preferably one inclined to muck about with noisy, greasy objects hazardous to one’s gown (see “suitors” below).
- Companions: Although rules of propriety require a chaperone, this if often hard to maintain when involved in a bout of vigorous espionage. Here is where where trusty companions are useful. Evelina has her best friend, Imogen, and also her pets, the living automatons Mouse and Bird.
- Suitors: While not strictly necessary, these are delightful accompaniments to any adventure scenario, whether singly or in multiples. They can be of a dark and dangerous variety or the noble and dashing type. The wise heroine will not settle on the first young blade that comes along. Victorians were avid explorers, after all. Permit the lady to consider her options.
That’s my list – can you think of anything else she should have or consider?
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All three books in The Baskerville Affair trilogy are now available!
Evelina Cooper, the niece of the great Sherlock Holmes, is poised to enjoy her first Season in London’s high society, but there’s a murderer to deal with—not to mention missing automatons, a sorcerer, and a talking mouse . . .
In a Victorian era ruled by a Council of ruthless steam barons, mechanical power is the real monarch, and sorcery the demon enemy of the Empire. Nevertheless, the most coveted weapon is magic that can run machines—something Evelina has secretly mastered. But rather than making her fortune, her special talents could mean death or an eternity as a guest of Her Majesty’s secret laboratories. What’s a polite young lady to do but mind her manners and pray she’s never found out?
But then there’s that murder. As Sherlock Holmes’s niece, Evelina should be able to find the answers, but she has a lot to learn. And the first decision she has to make is whether to trust the handsome, clever rake who makes her breath come faster, or the dashing trick rider who would dare anything for her if she would only just ask . . .
A Study in Darkness – Book Two
When a bomb goes off at 221B Baker Street, Evelina Cooper is thrown into her Uncle Sherlock’s world of mystery and murder. But just when she thought it was safe to return to the ballroom, old, new, and even dead enemies are clamoring for a place on her dance card.
Before Evelina’s even unpacked her gowns for a country house party, an indiscretion puts her in the power of the ruthless Gold King, who recruits her as his spy. He knows her disreputable past and exiles her to the rank alleyways of Whitechapel with orders to unmask his foe.
As danger mounts, Evelina struggles between hiding her illegal magic and succumbing to the darker aspects of her power. One path keeps her secure; the other keeps her alive. For rebellion is brewing, a sorcerer wants her soul, and no one can protect her in the hunting ground of Jack the Ripper.
As part of her devil’s bargain with the industrial steam barons, Evelina Cooper is finally enrolled in the Ladies’ College of London. However, she’s attending as the Gold King’s pet magician, in handcuffs and forbidden contact with even her closest relation, the detective Sherlock Holmes.
Not even Niccolo, the dashing pirate captain, and his sentient airship can save her. But Evelina’s problems are only part of a larger war. The Baskerville Affair is finally coming to light, and the rebels are making their move to wrest power from the barons and restore it to Queen Victoria. Missing heirs and nightmare hounds are the order of the day — or at least that’s what Dr. Watson is telling the press.
But their plans are doomed unless Evelina escapes to unite her magic with the rebels’ machines–and even then her powers aren’t what they used to be. A sorcerer has awakened a dark hunger in Evelina’s soul, and only he can keep her from endangering them all. The only problem is…he’s dead.
Emma Jane Holloway
Ever since childhood, Emma Jane Holloway refused to accept that history was nothing but facts prisoned behind the closed door of time. Why waste a perfectly good playground coloring within the timelines? Accordingly, her novels are filled with whimsical impossibilities and the occasional eye-blinking impertinence—but always in the service of grand adventure.
Struggling between the practical and the artistic—a family tradition, along with ghosts and a belief in the curative powers of shortbread—Emma Jane has a degree in literature and job in finance. She lives in the Pacific Northwest in a house crammed with books, musical instruments, and half-finished sewing projects. In the meantime, she’s published articles, essays, short stories, and enough novels to build a fort for her stuffed hedgehog.