The Gaslight Chronicles written by Cindy Spencer Pape are, in my opinion, steampunk on easy mode. Where as Whitechapel Gods is a hard slog to read, these books are very easy to get through. In fact, I read the book Photographs & Phantoms in under an hour at lunch today. These are short books that are a bit formulaic but are at least modestly entertaining.
They follow the Order of the Round Table, made up of the descendants of the original Knights of the Round Table. As in King Arthur and Merlin. While I have not yet seen one of the knights who is descended of Arthur himself, I have read of those who are descended of the other knights and Merlin himself.
The books follow one of the knights or his family members as they run into a supernatural problem of some sort. While pursuing this problem, they get introduced to the plucky female love interest. Both parties are insistent that they are either a) not attracted to the other party or b) looking for love/marriage. Inevitably, the supernatural problem brings the two people together, they realize their love (sometimes in days, sometimes in actual weeks or months!), get married and have little hellions of their own. I mean, children. 😉
This is the basic plot of every single one of these books, so you know what you’re getting in to. That said, it is a bit like a soap opera or reality TV show, a guilty pleasure. They’re Harlequin romance novels set in a steampunk era. I do think that Pape does a good job in steampunk. And I will probably keep reading these stories because they are cheap and easy. But if you are looking for a real awesome steampunk, go for Gail Carriger.
The books are as follows: Steam & Sorcery, Photographs & Phantoms, Moonlight & Mechanicals, Kilts & Kraken and Cards & Caravans. Considering that they’ve only been published starting in March 2011, I’m certain there will be many more of these little steampunk stories. Overall, I think I’d rate them a C+/B-. Entertaining but not great. And I probably wouldn’t buy them if they didn’t average about 3 dollars a go.