By Alison Chase, Signet Eclipse, $7.99, 370 pages
At the bidding of her monarch, Ivy, the second Sutherland sister to be called to such service, disguises herself as a young man in order to spy on Simon the Mad Marquess, who happens to conduct research at the University in Cambridge. Being extremely well read, Ivy wins herself a spot as his lab assistant and is promptly taken into his home and research. While Simon spends the greater part of the novel falling in love with Ivy, Ivy falls in love with something else: Simon’s research into ‘electromagnetism’. So much so, in fact, that she refuses his marriage proposal on the grounds that it would hinder her new found freedom. The mission for the queen is placed much to the back burner as the characters conduct their scientific discovery.
Instead of the fashions, foods, and society of the time that most Victorian romances highlight, Outrageously Yours: Her Majesty’s Secret Servants emphasizes the amazing industrial discoveries taking place. Some of the inventions mentioned include the sewing machine, light bulbs, electrical generators, prosthetic limbs and the bicycle. In addition to scientific discovery, many strides are made for feminism in this novel, as the heroine fights for her monarch’s right to choose a mate and her own right to attend university.
Though the characters and time are complex and enjoyable, the action sometimes stalls on the description, making the reading dry. The love scenes are tepid and the revelation of the villain in the end is somewhat reminiscent of an episode of Scooby Doo.
Reviewed by Rachelle Barrett