Dedicated scientist Gladys DeWalt is a rising star in a Victorian community of scholars and explorers influenced as much by politics as discovery. So when her highly touted mission to excavate a legendary shipwreck ends in devastating failure, the Council of Scholars deals her another devastating blow.
Stripped of her title, she's demoted to status of Intellectual Ward and placed under the authority of Sebastian Cromwell, a former professor she remembers as stern and exacting. Gladys feared Cromwell as a student, and fears him more since his accident and transformation as part automaton by rogue scientist Nigel Longbridge. Cromwell may look and function like a man, but he's as cold and clinical as the gears under his skin. He takes Gladys on to settle an old debt, but informs her from the outset that he will not brook any disobedience or disrespect. When Gladys defies him, she is punished.
But under Cromwell's stern demeanor is the lingering shadow of humanity, and as the dashing automaton comes to admire his ward's intelligence and drive, he begins to question what really caused her mission's failure.
What he discovers will shake the Council of Scholars to its core and give Gladys a chance to redeem her name and win the love of a man who thought he was now beyond emotional connection.
She’d expected to return victorious.
As she walked up the aisle, she found her mind returning to those rare nights during the expedition when her first mate had convinced her to get some sleep. Gladys would lie in her bunk, thinking of returning to this very room. As the metal around her had groaned and popped its mechanical lullaby, she’d drift off to the fantasy of how she’d confidently face the Council of Scholars � triumphant - as hundreds of sets of eyes watched in admiration and envy.
How different this was - how perversely contrary - returning in defeat.
It took all her effort to hold her head high. She tried to focus on the members of the council. There was Reubens, who’d voted against commissioning her. His smug look stung, but not so much as the stricken look of her longtime mentor and advocate Dr. Hadley Jenkins. His reputation had rested on her slim shoulders.
Gladys dropped her eyes. She couldn’t bear to see the expressions of the others. But she could still feel one of them. The disdain emanating from her benefactor, Miriam Beckworth, was palpable. �And withering.
Gladys stepped up to the rostrum, its intricate woodwork gleaming and rich with history. She wasn’t the first scientist to stand here. Others had come before her to report to this council and preceding ones. Had things gone as she’d promised, knowing that she was standing where Granville and Postman and Hargrove had once stood would have emphasized her achievement. That those esteemed scholars had looked up from this spot to report on successful discoveries or expeditions now made her failure seem all the more acute.
It was just one word, delivered so harshly that it seemed to ricochet through the wood-paneled room. Miriam Beckworth did not like it when she lost money. With Gladys, she’d lost big.
“I take responsibility�.” Gladys began, looking up at the council’s chief benefactor. Miriam Beckworth’s eyes were like two blue chips of ice in a face that was unnaturally smooth for a woman in her fifty-fourth year. It was widely rumored that Doctor Hargrove’s last expedition to the Amazon had yielded a mineral compound that reversed the aging of skin. It was also rumored that Miriam Beckworth had no intention of sharing the discovery with the world.
“As you should,” she was saying, titling her chin so that the glow from one of the gaslights glinted off the brooch pinned to the high collar of her gown. “You were leading the expedition, Dr. DeWalt. A leader always accepts responsibility, but it will take more than a mea culpa to satisfy the council. We want answers, girl! Now!”
Somewhere, a male colleague tittered in amusement.
Gladys felt her face grow warm, and knew the flush of anger would be evident on her pale skin. She wanted to lash out at her benefactor, to demand an apology for the humiliating verbal demotion. It was no mistake on Miriam Beckworth’s part, juxtaposing the title of “doctor” with the disparagement of “girl.” It was the way of the upper class to punish scholars who let them down, to remind them that Money � not Knowledge � was the real power.
“I misread the schematics,” Gladys explained. “I had studied the chart, devoted the last five years to unraveling its mysteries. I�” Her eyes darted to Dr. Jenkins. He looked tired, defeated and sad. He nodded almost imperceptibly, as if to acknowledge that he alone knew all Gladys had done to decipher the scroll. She looked away before again turning to continue addressing the council.
“I was sure that we were traveling well north of the Ragmar Trenches. My calculations had us at least five leagues away, and within range of where I’d estimated The Four Sisters to rest.”
“And there was no indication that you were near the trenches?”
Gladys grew quiet. Her first impulse was to lie. Who would know? Those who saw the signs were dead. The survivors were all technicians or sailors who only occasionally glanced out of the portholes. Only she and Elliot had noticed the absence of the tall undersea plants the scroll had mentioned. They’d looked at one another, both knowing instantly that she’d taken them off course. Below them was just darkness and silt. By the time they’d turned the ship around it had been too late.
“Yes,” she replied woodenly. “I could tell by the sea floor that we were off course � perilously off course. Dr. McDonald and I were recalculating when it hit us.”
She closed her eyes now, remembering the look of panic on her colleague’s face as his body slammed against the interior cabin wall. I’m sorry Elliot.
“If I may�” Dr. John Reubens leaned forward, his moist lips pursed under his thin moustache. “Gladys�”
“Dr. DeWalt, if you please,” she corrected him. Gladys could not help herself. She owed this man nothing. If he was going to gloat, she wouldn’t make it easy for him.
“Doctor DeWalt,” he said, coating the first word with sarcasm. “What was the one consistent warning about this expedition? What was the one chief concern, the one thing we emphasized over and over that you avoid? Remind us, Doctor. Humor us, if you will�.”
“The Ragmar Trenches, but�”
“There are no ‘buts,’ DeWalt,” he thundered. “Good men are dead because of you! You assured us that your research was solid, that your readings of the scroll had yielded a direct path to the Four Sisters well clear of the trench and the creatures that destroyed both that ancient ship and now yours as well! Now half your crew is lost, the treasure still remains on the ocean floor and this council is left with nothing to show for it!” He leaned back in his chair, an expression of satisfaction crossing his face.
“Yes,” Gladys was no longer able to contain her anger. “And yet you sit there fighting back a smile, Dr. Reubens,” she said, using the same sarcastic emphasis on his title as she had on his. “This whole process has been political, and while I admit that my error led to a tragedy that will haunt me forever, I can honestly say that if the shoe were on the other foot, I’d hardly take pleasure in a colleague’s failure, especially when lives have been lost.”
Now it was John Reubens whose face reddened. “You misspeak!” he sputtered.
“ENOUGH!” Professor Laurel Singh was the quietest member of the council, but as The Chair, when she spoke, everyone listened, even Miriam Beckworth.
“I will not have this discussion degenerate into ugliness,” she said. “Crewmembers are dead, a vessel lost. Doctor DeWalt has accepted responsibility for the disastrous outcome of this mission. In her defense, missions fail; that is the risk of science.” She glanced over at their benefactor. “Even unnecessary science.”
The older woman’s eyes shot daggers at the council chair. No one had ever come this close to saying what everyone knew - that this expedition was more about a claim to treasure than any actual science. It was true that the Four Sisters was a legendary craft, but beyond artifacts no advancement to mankind would have been gained by plundering its wealth.
“However,” Singh continued. “Because we were assured repeatedly by Doctor DeWalt that she was not just sure, but one hundred percent sure, that she had successfully recreated the Archimedes Map from the scroll, her failure in this mission does have consequences.” Her soft brown eyes fell on Gladys. “You’ve lost our trust, Dr. DeWalt, you realize that.”
“Yes, Professor,” Gladys said.
“And you understand that trust is something that must be regained, and that the process in the face of such a failure will be slow and tedious�”
Gladys could not answer. She could only nod as she tried to swallow the lump in her throat.
“I make a motion,” said Professor Singh, “that Doctor DeWalt be stripped of her title as Scientific Commander for the Council of Archaeological and Anthropological Acquisitions and that she be demoted to Scientist First Class.”
“Scientist First Class?” Miriam Beckwith’s tone was incredulous. “Are you serious? She has all but broken us financially.”
“She’s broken the council, Ma’am, not you,” Professor Singh said levelly. “Unless you’re telling us that you’re pulling support.”
The two women faced each other. They were at a draw. Professor Singh and the council needed Miriam Beckworth’s money, but Miriam Beckworth needed them just as much. There were other councils, but none so studied and none so populated by such great minds. Finally, the council’s benefactor looked away. Gladys’ fate was now in her colleagues’ hands.
The huge clock above them ticked, the gears visible through a gap. Gladys looked up and was reminded of the gleaming metal submersible she’d piloted, of how proud she and Elliot had been as they’d broken a bottle of champagne on its riveted hull just hours before departing on their mission. Elliot, with his boyish grin and natural genius, had been discovered among the dead when the battered submarine had finally limped to the surface.
“May I propose a compromise?” John Reubens voice was smooth honey as he spoke. Gladys had known the man long enough to know this was not a good sign.
“Technically, Dr. DeWalt could be brought up on charges of endangerment,” he said. “I mean, I wouldn’t do it, of course, but if the council is deemed culpable we could lose our credibility and open ourselves up for legal action. We could be held personally liable for the losses of the crew. Already the press mutters.” He rose to his feet and pulled at his moustache, as if pondering what to do. Gladys glanced at Hadley Jenkins, knowing he was thinking the same thing as she: Whatever Dr. Reubens was about to propose, he’d planned well in advance.
“We can no longer call Dr. DeWalt a colleague. She has led us to the brink of ruin. It would be�uncharitable, given the regret she no doubt feels, to strip her of her letters or abandon her to the legal system. But as the council we must levy the harshest punishment possible while at the same time showing mercy. We must satisfy the public that scientific community is not just lofty, but just. We must prove that we are willing to police ourselves. And what fairer way to do that then to return a careless colleague to the status of Intellectual Ward?”
A collective gasp rose from some in the audience. The room was filled by not just other scientists, but members of the public who had hung on news of Gladys DeWalt’s career. The quiet, small, studious woman was the brightest rising star of her day. Her proficiency for interpreting ancient texts had already led to several discoveries featured in prominent scientific journals.� In a world that prized discovery and intellect, she had grown from student to unlikely superstar and darling of the usually harsh Victorian press. Now, as flashbulbs went off around her, she sensed her star was about to crash harder than she could ever imagine. Even if she retained her title, to be reassigned to a mentor would be a most humiliating punishment. Her eyes went from council member to council member, hoping to see some debate. But as she watched, Gladys’ heart sank. Dr. Reubens’ logic was winning them over.
She steadied herself by placing her hands on either side of the rostrum. The corset under her blue velvet traveling suit suddenly felt tight against her rib cage. The pounding of a gavel cleared her swimming head and stirred her to attention.
Doctor Singh was calling for a vote. Gladys stood helpless as her fate was decided. By a count of four to three she was returned to Intellectual Ward status.
Dr. Jenkins, who’d voted against the measure, spoke up as soon as the vote was taken. “I cannot say I approve of what the council has done to my colleague,” he said, but I can guarantee that as her mentor I will continue to�
“No.” Dr. Reubens was shaking his head. “You assume too much, Dr. Jenkins. You forget that I make the assignments for the council. And I’ve already decided that given the intellectual immaturity displayed by Gladys DeWalt, a different and sterner mentor is warranted.”
“What?” The older man asked, flustered. “Who?”
Dr. Reubens turned his gaze to Gladys. This time he didn’t even try to hide his smile. “Dr. Sebastian Cromwell.”
“No.” The word was out before Gladys could stop it, the pitch of her voice betraying the dismay and apprehension she felt. She gripped the rostrum harder, feeling faint. It had been years since she’d encountered the man. Cromwell had been the only person to ever intimidate her, and stories of what had happened to him � what he’d become � had magnified her fear of him.
“The automaton?” Dr. Jenkins asked.
“Well, technically only part automaton,” Dr. Reubens said. “But if I may be so bold, I’d argue that part of what has allowed Dr. DeWalt to hoodwink us all is her charm.” He sighed. “She has a way of putting one at ease with her sweet manner. It’s easy to believe her. Is this by calculated design on her part? Perhaps she’s known all along that she was incapable of the mission she accepted, but we � being human � were too blinded by her charm to see her flaws and deal with them.” He paused. “Dr. Cromwell won’t have that problem. He’s not fully human.”
I really enjoyed this story. The plot was different and exciting. I liked the suspense. Some times with a suspenseful story you figure out what is around the corner. Very well done.
I absolutely loved this story. The characters are so well drawn and Sebastian Cromwell is a fantastic literary creation. I love everything about him - his sternness, his fairness, the way he handles Gladys de Walt's first spanking after she attempts to run. I particularly loved watching his feelings grow and see him change from a "robot with human experiences" to a "human with robot experiences." Sidney Swann has great turn of phrase and the knack of writing scenes that you can visualise as though you were there, even when it's something as simple as a book being hurled across a room. In fact, this book would make a great movie. Someone, should get on that right now!
I really enjoyed this novel. It's H/h work together to find evidence that she was set up to fail. Not as steampunk as some but very good.
This book reminded me a little of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. Some of this book vas science fiction, advanced society, somewhat Victorian and totally fascinating. The main characters and the secondary characters were well developed. This is the first steampunk book and I loved it and plan to read more.
Really enjoyed it. Quite well-written, though the editing needs help (missing words or letters, mixed-up pronouns, tenses, etc.). Loved the characters and the relationship. The hero is a great mix of logical, uncertain of his ability to feel, and caring. Good secondary characters. The plot was original and entertaining, and the world-building was good. Loved the clockwork cat.
This story started well with the development of romance between the two main characters. Suddenly, it was as if the writer got tired of that and they suddenly plunge into a full blown affair as the story shifts to solving a mystery. It remains a pleasant read if you can ignore some spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and overlook the completely implausible 'science' described in the book.
This book grabs your attention and doesn't let go until the last page. A delicious blend of Victorian society mixed with modern day steampunk under tones. The characters are intriguing their description leave a vivid mental picture. There is just the right amount to discipline to keep interest sparked. A sequel would be great!
This was a great book! The first time I have read steam punk. I enjoyed reading about Gladys and Sebastian and their story. I couldn't put it down.
This book is sort of a takeoff on a Jules Verne kind story. Enjoyed the plot line and enjoyed the story of Gladys and Sebastian. She has been made his ward when she messes up an exploration and some crew members are killed. Liked these characters separately and especially together. Would have liked it to have been edited a little better. Had to read some sentences over a couple of times to figure out what it was saying.
This was my first time reading steam punk, and I really enjoyed it!
It was so much fun!
Though there was not very much spanking in the story, the plot made up for it. It was fast paced and energetic.
I really liked the attention Ms. Swann gave to each MC’s POV, showcasing plenty of emotional depth and growth.
Dr. Gladys DeWalt was a strong, brilliant scientist, punished for failing a mission that led to the deaths of many of her crew members. I loved her feisty nature mixed with her emotional side- the softer side she had to keep hidden.
Dr. Sebastian Cromwell, an outsider, and brilliant scientist, is also part automaton, giving others the impression that he has no human emotions or feelings.
Gladys is stripped of her position, and placed in his care as his intellectual ward, making for a clever and entertaining story.
This was a great combination of sci fi, fantasy, romance and steam punk with a little spanking included.
I wish there had been a bit more spanking, but I still very much enjoyed the story and the characters as they developed and fell in love.
I hope there will be sequels!
When the proud fall, they land hard. Gladys DeWalt is a shining star who is rapidly falling out of the sky. She's a scientist whose mission failed and her punishment is to not only be demoted but re-assigned to a new mentor: Sebastian Cromwell. Sebastian taught Gladys at one point and his strict requirements and high expectations frightened Gladys. To be completely under his thumb again is more than she can bear.
Ms. Swann is a new to me author and she shows great potential. She creates an interesting steampunk world. She captures the Victorian society and mixes it just right with guilds and steam driven machinery. Hopefully there will be more in this world so she can expand upon the world she's built so far.
Her characters are well done. Gladys is easily understandable. She is flawed just right for this story to work. Sebastian is a perfect balance for her headstrong impulsive behaviour. Incorporating domestic discipline into this story enhances a reader's enjoyment. The attention to detail Ms. Swann uses in her descriptions of Sebastian's Library as well as the underworld to Nigel's secret laboratory is divine. She incorporates more than just sight. Her description of scent helps make these places vivid and come alive.
The undercurrent of erotica through the disciplining spankings is so delicious. Seeing Gladys being corrected is so good. She needs maintenance spankings and perhaps a good figging! Sebastian is a sexy stoic character. He is logical and exudes a dominant presence. Even his mechanical body parts is attractive.
The story does feel rushed to a conclusion. From the point of the villain's plot revealed to the resolution, it moves fast and concludes too quickly. A couple of the secondary characters seemed to be left hanging. They were mentioned in a way that made them important yet when it came to the resolution of the story, their contribution fizzled out. This yields a 3.5 star rating.
This steampunk romance is recommended for domestic discipline lovers.
Note: I was given an ARC of this book in return for an impartial review, which I believe I have delivered.
Dangerous Science is a good blend of a modern steampunk work, a throwback to Victorian times and the fantastic machinery imagined by authors of the era. In particular I found the setting evocative of H. G. Wells; the underlying tension between wealth and science and the social struggles that emerge from it (not to mention the theme of scientific development and physical refinement, in the form of the automatons, also represent the elevation from humanity and human emotions) are fairly torn from his fiction and nonfiction works alike. The latter parts of the book, however, clearly resemble the Extraordinary Voyages of Jules Verne, particularly 20,000 Leagues.
In terms of the interaction between the characters, there is a slow build taking up the first half of the book. Additionally, much of the dominance and submission aspect is not in the traditional physical form (although that does emerge), but in the method of an emancipated female scientist forced to return to the tutelage of her former professor, consigned by the Council of Science to have her position of scientist reduced to that of Intellectual Ward. While this may not be to everyone's taste, I thought this was a novel approach to the subject, and quite suitable for the Victorian mindset (where propriety and social standing are everything) and the steampunk setting (where menial tasks instead of scientific advancement would clearly be seen as punishment of the highest degree).
While this story is self-contained, it clearly has set up a world and relationship that continue, and the end hints that this may be so. I would certainly read the next in the series. My personal wish, since Verne's submarine trope has been explored here, maybe his Moon voyage could serve as inspiration next?
I really enjoyed this story. It was very original, and once I started reading it, I could not put it down. Sequel, please!
I've never read from this author before but I liked her writing. She showed both sides of the the couple's perspective which I always like and the main characters were very interesting. The length was also nice. I felt like I got my money's worth. I'll be reading this author again
Sidney Swan is indeed downright dangerous with her new release, Dangerous Science. A very delightful and skillful balance of steamy plot, and tantalizingly, hot erotic romance. This cunningly crafted story pulled me in right from the start with Dr. DeWalt facing the tragedy and guilt of failing her mission. I could feel her remorse over her dead crew members, that she thought was entirely her fault.
As a failed scholar and scientist, she is demoted to Intellectual Ward and placed in the care of a former professor, Dr Cromwell, who she was less than happy about ever having to see again. Known for his stern, cold and reclusive demeanor, and her compulsiveness to absolve herself in her work, it’s a true love story to watch as these two scholars find love
I think Sidney Swan writes with zeal and passion that comes from a snappy and highly aroused imagination. The very well thought out plot of this story and the vividness of each character was astounding. I especially liked the clockwork kitten. My imagination as well as my emotions were brought to life through this tale of wrongful accusations made right. The passion and zeal between the hero and heroine as they fall in love does not disappoint. This author can write a sizzler of a sex scene. Congratulations Miss Swan, I am full steam ahead looking for more about Sebastian and Glady's.
This is a steampunk story, but you don't have to like steampunk to like this story. Dr. Gladys DeWalt has been discredited because her expedition was a failure and her crew were killed. She is devastated by this. She is brought to trial and is demoted to Intellectual Ward. This essentially means that she is now under the control of Dr. Sebastian Cromwell. Dr. Cromwell has had his own problems and is now part automaton. He was stern and exacting before his transformation and he is even more so now.
Their first confrontation occurs quickly and since Gladys is acting like a child, she gets a child's punishment, an over-the-knee spanking! Sebastian is very dispassionate about the spanking and determines when he is done by the color of her bottom! Later, he is convinced by his housekeeper to comfort Gladys and he discovers he does still have feelings. He also suspects that Gladys's expedition was sabotaged and he is determined to help her get her reputation back.
I do wish that there had been more discipline (and spankings!) in the story. There was also very little sex. That being said, it is a very well written story. The characters are well thought out and the writing is very descriptive. I also think that the ending was rather abrupt. I would have liked to known more about what happens. But, I am intrigued by this couple and I can't wait for a sequel (hint, hint) I highly recommend this story to everyone.
This was my first Steampunk romance and I loved it. The story line is wonderful and draws you into a world where so many things are possible. The characters are well done, written so that you easily feel as if you not only know them, you want to spend time with them. It takes a while for the first personal, intimate interaction between the two doctors happens, but when it does, you instantly realize that their relationship will change. Both are strong, intelligent and discover previously unknown passions with each other. I felt the story was long enough to be truly worth the read and kept my interest throughout. Very well done and I look forward to reading additional installments featuring more adventures between these two.
My Favorite Quote: “Don’t send me away. You wonderful, clever man; let’s
be adventurers. Let’s see the world. At some point I’ll no longer crave your guidance. But for
now, I do.
Sidney Swann is a new author releasing her first story Dangerous Science. The story starts out slow but keep with it. Every sentence is important to the storyline. This is my first Steampunk novel to read and I loved it! I give high praises to Sidney Swann.
Gladys DeWalt is grief stricken over the failure of her expedition. She has been discredited as a scientist and her reputation is ruined. She is mourning the loss of her team and trying to figure out her next move. She is placed in the care of Sebastian Cromwell.
Sebastian Cromwell is not your average man. He is actually part automaton. He is stern and arrogant at first but slowly begins to learn to warm up to Gladys. He becomes fond her and wants to take care of her. Convinced that her expedition’s failure wasn’t her fault, Sebastian sets out on a mission to right the situation and find out what really happened.
There is a villain in this story but I feel that you need to read to learn about him. I am very impressed because usually I don’t read a lot of action stories. Dangerous Science is the perfect blend of action, adventure, erotica, and spankings. I am completely wrapped up in the characters from Dangerous Science and look forward to more from Sidney Swann.
Thank goodness Dangerous Science sets up as an origin story for a steampunk romance series starring its heroine and hero, Drs. Gladys DeWalt and Sebastian Cromwell (semi-cybernetic)! Otherwise I would worry that first-time author Sidney Swann would not return to the fascinating steampunk world she has created, in which intellectual guardians and their intellectual wards can enjoy what amounts to more-or-less enforced ageplay while at the same time making the sorts of Victorian scientific discovery that makes steampunk such a diverting genre.
Dr. Gladys DeWalt has been framed for causing the disaster that led to the death of a friend on her last expedition; she is turned over by a scientific council to Dr. Sebastian Cromwell, a reclusive steampunk (that is, really, proper Victorian) scientist who has been, er, cybernetically-enhanced after an accedent. Together, without a great deal of misunderstanding, they unravel the plot that disgraced Gladys unjustifiably and set out on the expedition that will vindicate her. Along the way, of course, they fall in love, and develop the kind of disciplinary/erotic relationship that only a Victorian scientist and his lovely, scholarly ward can develop.
I'm a little reluctant to recommend this book to anyone who looks for a great deal of erotica in his or her spanking fic reads, but anyone who enjoys Victorian fiction and science fiction, in addition to spanking and erotic elements will adore this book simply because the quality of the writing is so very high. The characters are well drawn and, when appropriate, very sympathetic. The little novel roars along from start to finish, and when the spanking and sex arrives, it's extremely hot. I have only one caveat, beyond, the low volume of the erotic element and in particular of the spanking element: the books sets up for a much more extended ending than we actually get, which is not a problem in itself but left me feeling a little less fulfilled than I was hoping for.
I recommend Dangerous Science very highly to anyone who knows what steampunk is, and likes a little spanking with his or her romance.