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  • Caitlyn Lynch

Book Review: The Designs of Lord Randolph Cavanaugh by Stephanie Laurens

In the throes of the Industrial Revolution, Britain’s inventors competed ferociously with each other to push the technology of the time to its available limits and beyond. Even more ferocious than the inventors were the investors, however, with fortunes made and lost by investing in the inventions which would power the future.

Lord Randolph Cavanaugh is such an investor, and William John Throgmorton’s horseless carriage is, he hopes, the greatest invention yet. The only problem is that it isn’t ready, and now there might be a saboteur out to make sure it never will be. Riding herd on the inventor might be the only way it will ever be ready in time for an upcoming exhibition.

What Rand doesn’t count on is the inventor’s sister, the lovely Felicia, who has no love for inventions after her father devoted his life and the family fortunes to them. He has to win her over to his way of thinking, which quickly becomes a desire to win her heart as well.

I actually really enjoyed the romance between the two. It was a quiet growth of respect and admiration, and a recognition between two like-minded souls, rather than the insta-lust which is too often what is portrayed as love in romance novels. It was really well done.

The 19th century engineering detailed in the text was lovingly researched and accurately written; Ms Laurens has obviously done her research on early steam-powered engines. As a former engineer, I found it intriguing but I suspect that the average reader might find it quite dull, as there was a lot of talk about valves and pistons and pressure - which is about as interesting as a discussion of modern-day motor mechanics to most.

I can imagine that many might think the 1840s too early for a steam-powered vehicle to be traversing England’s roads, but I checked up and there were similar vehicles being successfully built and demonstrated from the 1820s onwards.

This is a beautifully written period romance with so much historical accuracy behind it, and some genuinely unique and intriguing characters. I hope other readers aren’t put off by the sheer amount of engineering included in the book; it really is an integral part of Felicia and Rand’s story. I loved this and I’m happy to give it five stars.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.

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