This boring cover hides a rollickin’ good time!
The Adventures of the Incognita Countess by Cynthia Ward
The plot is a little bananas. Instead of summarizing it myself, just take a look:
It’s the easiest assignment a British intelligence agent could hope for. Lucy Harker needs only see the secret plans of the Nautilus safely across the Atlantic. As German spies are largely a fantasy of newspapers, she anticipates no activities more strenuous than hiding her heritage as Dracula’s dhampir daughter. Then among her fellow Titanic passengers she discovers the incognita Countess Karnstein—and it seems the seductive vampire is in Germany’s service. Can Agent Harker stake Carmilla before her own heart—and her loyalty to the British Empire—are subverted by questions as treacherous as a night-cloaked iceberg?
Yes! Dhampirs (half vampires) and full vampires, the Titanic, icebergs, German and British spies, and so much more. What else could there be, you ask? Martian heat ray technology, Tarzan, the influence of Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes, the unsinkable Molly Brown, woman-loving-woman action (sadly off screen), and even more I’m forgetting now.
This is a very short, fast paced novel with a whole lot of delightful steampunk detail and a plethora of characters taken from both fiction contemporary to the story and real life. It’s a really fun read, anchored by Lucy’s strong voice and point of view. I never felt lost or overwhelmed by all the plot and detail. Actually, I wished the book would slow down a bit, take a little more time with building characters and back stories, filling in the gaps. This could have been 100 pages longer and I would not complain.
Also, it is a bummer that the sexy times are completely off the page. I get it, not every book can be a romance novel, but a lil smooching never hurt anyone.