Erryn reviews ‘The Gilded Scarab (Lancaster’s Luck Book #1)’ by Anna Butler. The audiobook, narrated by Gary Furlong was released October 14, 2022, and is 11 hrs and 9 mins. The ebook was published October 6, 2019, and is 340 pages. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this: I love steampunk.
Book one in the Lancaster’s Luck M/M steampunk trilogy.
When Captain Rafe Lancaster is invalided out of the Britannic Imperium’s Aero Corps after crashing his aerofighter during the Second Boer War, his eyesight is damaged permanently, and his career as a fighter pilot is over. Returning to London in late November 1899, he’s lost the skies he loved, has no place in a society ruled by an elite oligarchy of powerful Houses, and is hard up, homeless, and in desperate need of a new direction in life. Everything changes when he buys a coffeehouse near the Britannic Imperium Museum in Bloomsbury, the haunt of Aegyptologists. For the first time in years, Rafe is free to be himself.
In a city powered by luminiferous aether and phlogiston, and where powerful men use House assassins to target their rivals, Rafe must navigate dangerous politics, deal with a jealous and possessive ex-lover, learn to make the best coffee in London, and fend off murder and kidnap attempts before he can find happiness with the man he loves.
Buy links: Audible | Amazon | Goodreads
I knew very little heading into this book, but I quickly ascertained it was steampunk. Set in 1899, I remember planes weren’t created until the next century. Then, quickly, I fell in love with Captain Rafe Lancaster. He’s what I’d look for in a friend or even a mate – witty, acerbic, cynical. And funny – although he doesn’t always intend to be so. He’s one of the strongest characters I’ve ever met and his voice was so compelling. Sometimes he could be cutting or derogatory, but I always forgave him.
Being invalided out of the Aero Corps and forced to return to London with less-than-perfect sight leaves him at loose ends. He’s got a small pension, and an odd inheritance, but no prospects. Until he discovers the perfect business to acquire. Oh, except he has to ask his ‘family’ for money. Felt a bit like the mafia houses and the different operations amused me greatly.
Beyond all this, he’s gay. Upon his return, he meets a gentleman and they share a wonderful evening and an intimate encounter. He thinks often of the man, who has left the country. In the meantime, he meets someone else who seems vaguely compatible. Needless to say, things get interesting.
Rafe’s business, personal, and family life all collide into a climax that quite took my breath away. I enjoyed watching the dénouement as everyone picked up the pieces after their adventure.
I’m thrilled there are more books in the series and desperately hope they come to audio. With a narrative voice that strong, they are bound to be just as compelling. Last, but not least, I want to discuss Gary Furlong. I’ve enjoyed every narration I’ve ever heard from him, and this one is no exception. He did an admirable job and I hope there are more audios to come. Well done, and I hope everyone picks this one up.
9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars
Twitter: @annabutlerfic | Website
Once I used to do communications work for the UK government, in a variety of departments that saw me do things as diverse as managing both national TV campaigns and an internal TV service delivered through everyone’s PC. These days I live a much quieter life deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside with my husband, and Molly and Mavis, the Deputy Editors.