“Rebel Mechanics” by Shanna Swendson

“Rebel Mechanics” takes place in an alternate history where British magic prevents the American Revolution from ever occurring. Verity Newton arrives in New York to find a job as governess and winds up working for one of the most powerful magical families in the city. Concerned about toeing the line in such a household, she discovers that not everyone in the family is as they seem. Although this magical family has held power for years, many members sympathize with the rebels, a group in the city reliant on engineering and machines instead of magic.

Verity finds herself swept away by the rebel group she encounters in the city. She agrees with their cause to bring equality to the non-magical people and decrease reliance on magic. It also helps matters that Verity starts falling for a rebel inventor. But will her magical employers mind the company she’s keeping? Although some of them are opened minded, Verity isn’t sure if they’ll be opened to all her secrets.

This book had a rollicking steampunk feel. The characters wore strange clothing and made quirky inventions and had unusual gatherings. As a reader you can’t help but like Verity who struggles as a bookish outsider to New York. I love authors who make their characters avid readers – a sure way help the readers of their own books identity with their characters! Although I caught many of the plot twists before they happened, a quite a few of them I didn’t see coming.

Swendson does a good job creating morally grey situations where the truth is stretched with good intentions and characters who seemed likeable display their dark sides. In all, “Rebel Mechanics” is a fun read.

“Alex and Eliza” by Melissa de la Cruz

Love stories are universal. Everyone at some fundamental level wants to love and be loved. Novels about love and romance are somehow the most human and the most hopeful.

Unsurprisingly, I love a good romance – one that has you desperately hoping for the couple to get together the entire way. There has to be a first meeting full of such chemistry that you are swooning and later a list of painful obstacles that the couple has to overcome with each obstacle more impossible than the last. If only, you think, if only.

Which brings me to “Alex and Eliza.”

I loved it. It’s a historical fiction set in the good old USA – mostly Albany, New York and Morristown, New Jersey – from 1777-1780. Even though the setting takes place during the American Revolution, the times definitely have a Jane Austen like feel of propriety. It’s been awhile since I took a history class, and even then I definitely had more of a Canadian focus in school. However, you don’t have to remember your history to enjoy this novel.

The star really is the romance. And this story definitely isn’t as prudish as Jane Austen. Thank god. Haha.

Eliza is a strong, intelligent, patriotic young woman. She is dedicated to the revolution and her old money family. Alex is a handsome, proud, and literary. He has no family and is a self-made man. Since they are of different classes, however will they marry?

(And trust me, once you meet the characters, you’ll want them to marry.)

Of course, Alex and Eliza don’t hit it off right away. Alex reluctantly shows up at Eliza’s family party to inform her father he must appear in court. Not exactly the best foot to set off on.

However, when Eliza visits her Aunt in New Jersey and delivers the small pox vaccine Alex’s army encampment, things become more interesting. The obstacles the couple encounters are untimely and challenging and definitely transform this romance into a page turner.

Will they prevail and end up together? Or will their romance never come to fruition?

Read “Alex and Eliza” to have all the feels!