All Men of Genius by Lev A.C. Rosen
Source: From publisher for review
Inspired by two of the most beloved works by literary masters, All Men of Genius takes place in an alternate Steampunk Victorian London, where science makes the impossible possible.
Violet Adams wants to attend Illyria College, a widely renowned school for the most brilliant up-and-coming scientific minds, founded by the late Duke Illyria, the greatest scientist of the Victorian Age. The school is run by his son, Ernest, who has held to his father’s policy that the small, exclusive college remain male-only. Violet sees her opportunity when her father departs for America. She disguises herself as her twin brother, Ashton, and gains entry.
But keeping the secret of her sex won’t be easy, not with her friend Jack’s constant habit of pulling pranks, and especially not when the duke’s young ward, Cecily, starts to develop feelings for Violet’s alter ego, “Ashton.” Not to mention blackmail, mysterious killer automata, and the way Violet’s pulse quickens whenever the young duke, Ernest (who has a secret past of his own), speaks to her. She soon realizes that it’s not just keeping her secret until the end of the year faire she has to worry about: it’s surviving that long.
When Violet Adams decides to disguise herself as a man and apply to Illyria College, she has no idea what she’s getting herself into, but is determined to prove herself in a man’s world and gain attention for her mechanical genius. With the dubious support of her twin brother, Ashton, and their friend and fellow Illyria student Jack, Violet embarks on a school year that she’ll never forget. Among the vast halls and clanking gears of Illyria, Violet finally feels she’s truly home, among great minds and great inventions. The faire at the end of the year, with a chance to showcase an invention to the Queen, will be the icing on the cake, and Violet hopes to unveil her secret to everyone. She certainly didn’t count on falling in love with the Duke of Illyria, not to mention the daily challenges of posing as a man.
All Men of Genius is great fun, and the author manages to balance multiple story lines without sacrificing pacing or completely taking the attention off of Violet. We get to know the cousin and ward of the Duke, Cecily (who has some engineering know-how of her own), as well as her governess, Miriam, a few of the professors (including one who’s more machine than man), and the scenes involving Violet at the pub with Jack and their circle of friends are a hoot. Misplaced affections and gender bending conflict abound, creating twists and turns that certainly keep our heroes and heroines guessing. There is a villain, and he’s a nasty one, but I’ll leave that one for you to discover. Then there’s that creepy, labyrinthine basement… Filled with clockwork contraptions, ferrets that fly (and other interesting creatures), menacing automatons, wry wit and humor, and a heroine you’ll root for, All Men of Genius is a delight, and I highly recommend it for anyone that enjoys a good comedy of manners, and a Victorian romp with steampunk sensibilities.
Will Violet’s true gender be found out? Will she find true love without losing herself in the process? I suppose you’ll have to snag a copy of All Men of Genius and find out!
*Note: Although our heroine and her friends are young adults, All Men of Genius is not a YA title, and there are some references to sex.
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