Synopsis: The once-beautiful domed neo-Victorian city of Bridges is split between four crime families in an uneasy cease-fire. Social disparity increasing and its steam-driven infrastructure failing, a new faction is on the rise: the Red Dogs. Jacqueline Spadros has a dream life: a wealthy husband, a powerful family. But her life is not what it seems. Kidnapped from her mother’s brothel and forced to marry, the murder of her best friend Air ten years before haunts her nightmares. She finds moments of freedom in a small-time private eye business, which she hides in fear of her sadistic father-in-law. Air’s little brother disappears off his back porch and the Red Dogs are framed for it. With the help of a mysterious gentleman investigator hired by the Red Dogs to learn the truth, Jacqui pushes her abilities to their limits in hope of rescuing the child before the kidnapper disposes of him.
I’ll have to admit that the designation of steampunk scared me a little bit although the reason I decided to read the book was because the summary was interesting. I soon realized that designation is because of technology running on steam power. The author did a great job setting the tone of mystery and the harsh environment. The characters are authentic, lovable/unlikable, and realistic. Jacqui has learned some hard lessons in short life but still carries on. She is realizing that despite her desire not to that she loves Tony. She is a survivor that carries around the guilt of her friend’s loss very closely. As the story progresses, the reader is shown snippets of the past memories that explain why she feels so guilty.
Jacqui has to sneak out to do her investigating business and learns that the repercussions her actions can be very detrimental to those around her. Her father-in-law Roy and others like him are beyond cruel and ruthless when society rules aren’t followed. I also liked that the author included a brief glossary of the people organized by families and found it very helpful. Overall, good read for anyone who likes mystery and suspense mixed with science fiction. I can’t wait to read the second book!