A classic steampunk novel, THE JANUS AFFAIR faithfully combines the aesthetic and social mores of Victorian England with advanced technologies in their cumbersome, nascent form. Books and Braun continue their partnership, and from page one both mystery and mayhem rule the narrative.
My love for these two characters is both an asset and a downfall for the series. On one hand, the hints about Wellington's "less civilized side" had me eager for an explosion of super spy prowess that would cause Eliza's heart to explode with unbridled admiration. On the other hand, waiting, waiting, waiting for that damnable Victorian reticence to get out of the way so these two partners could high-five their palpable awesomeness was painful. Even worse than waiting for them to acknowledge how much their working relationship means to them, the hints of sexual tension drove me to distraction. The needle barely moved on either front in PHOENIX RISING, but luckily, THE JANUS AFFAIR starts off Books and Braun rather happy in their work relationship (if romantically repressed).
Of course, any sudden baring of souls (or flesh), would go against authentic steampunk tone of the story. And it was just those elements that I really struggled with. The droll habit of calling Eliza a "colonial was funny the first time, but by book two I was more than ready for that type of humor to give way to new wit or a deeper appreciation for Eliza's character. THE JANUS AFFAIR at least addresses the crushing chauvinism Eliza deals with every day, but reading along as she secretly solves cases in the face of condescension and incompetence on the part of so many men around we was frustrating. Of course, that is one of the things that makes Books her perfect partner, as he too is continually underestimated by field officers (including Eliza herself).
Full review to follow.
Sexual Content: Kissing, references to sex.