The Lady in the Coppergate Tower (Proper Romance Steampunk)

Written by Nancy Campbell Allen
Review by Fiona Alison

Twins, separated at birth are at the heart of this gothic steampunk romance; one is kept in Romania, the other (Hazel) is brought to England. As assistant to the wealthy and celebrated surgeon, Sam McInnes, Hazel secretly admires her employer from afar. She’s an unapologetically feisty heroine but still constrained by the Victorian age, and commoners do not aspire to nobility.

A mysterious Romanian Count purporting to be Hazel’s uncle comes bearing a hitherto unknown family history—that the girls are nobility (this raises the stakes in the romance game) and that her ailing twin sister is showing signs of madness. Hazel, with her inherent healing ability, is compelled to help her sister, and so begins a dark and menacing journey aboard the Count’s palatial submersible en route to Romania.

What’s simply delightful here is the steampunk world Ms. Allen has created! I didn’t want to leave it, and more notably I wanted to hang out longer with Eugene, Dr. Sam’s saucy automaton, ‘who’ blurs the lines between human and non. The story is firmly rooted in this fantastical world of mechanical horses and telescribers and ray guns, and most deservedly belongs in the series named Proper Romance.