The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross (June 2012, Mira Ink, ISBN: 1848451121)
Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset follows on very shortly after the novella, The Strange Case of Finley Jayne, which is also included in this UK print version.
It's a steampunk Victorian England and Finley Jayne, is a sixteen-year-old who has two sides to her personality, a timid one and a 'dark' one which makes her super-strong, fast and fearless and appears when she is threatened. When the son of the household she's currently working for threatens her virtue, her darker self takes control and leaves him badly injured on the floor. Fleeing, she collides with a velocycle being ridden by Griffin King, the Duke of Greythorne. Finley is knocked unconscious and taken to the Duke's home which he shares with the super-intelligent Emily and the super-sized Sam.
It seems that Griff and his gang secretly help to protect the Queen and currently they are on the trail of the Machinist who is stealing objects from museums but also turning machines deadly; Sam has had to be "rebuilt" after an encounter with a rogue digging machine.
Finley has the choice: to stay with Griff and trust him or run, again...
The mystery of Finley's two natures is fairly swiftly explained but she is still an unknown quantity and is trusted in various degrees by the group. A violent confrontation between her and one of the gang ultimately seals her fate.
The Girl in the Steel Corset is an enjoyable read, there is a mystery (though not too taxing), some fighting, lots of gadgets and a love triangle developing, as Finley is drawn to both the "good" Griff and the "bad" Jack Dandy, a young crime lord.
The characters, including several strong female roles, are ones you are interested in and the story overall is intriguing. My only reservations are, first, the writing as I sometimes had to reread a sentence; at times there is a clipped-ness to it, a lack of punctuation and a wandering point of view and secondly there's the issue of the occasionally less than British sounding-ness of the characters. I'm not sure how many Victorians would say "We good?" and there is a rather inappropriate use of a swear word that rhymes with banker that must have a different use in the US.
Nonetheless I sped through it and look forward to The Girl with the Clockwork Collar.