Novella Review: A Gentleman and a Scholar by Rebecca Diem
Genre: Steampunk, Pirates
Series: Tales of the Captain Duke #3
Publisher: Woolf Like Me Publishing (September 1, 2016)
Author Info: www.rebeccadiem.com
The Captain Duke and his crew are slowly trying to piece together their lives, their livelihood, and the mystery surrounding the gunpowder and the mutiny that cost them their home of Haven in the previous book. Our hero, the Captain Duke, struggles to keep it together as he watches his best friend and mentor, Trick, wallow in the depression brought on by a lost limb, while our heroine, Clara, tries to balance her duties to the crew with her feelings for the enigmatic captain. But they both must adapt and focus on the future in order to unravel the threat against them and their life.
When I reviewed the first two books in this series, I spoke about family. The kind that goes beyond blood. That is the heart of Diem’s story. In spite of those that betrayed them and the shaken trust that has left behind, Diem’s endearing cast of characters remain loyal to each other and to their way of life. This sense family and belonging is further solidified through Trick’s tragedy and the way the story and characters desperately circle around his hope for recovery. The hunt for the perpetrators of the mutiny and the Tradist conspiracy are a tantalizing mystery that keeps the book moving forward in the background, but even the gently teased romance between Clara and the Captain takes a back seat to Trick’s well-being and the effect his recovery has on the entire crew — as well as to me, the reader, since I’ve come to care as much about this crew as Clara since she first stowed away with them. Trick’s recovery is in the hands of Clara’s actual family — as in, her brother, who works with a famous professor who has never let her disability stop her from living her life to its fullest.
Despite the short length, Diem skillfully balances the major elements of the story — the conspiracy and Trick’s recovery — without ever losing the rhythm of the tale, or its charm as we get to see some of the characters in a different. Most notably, the mysterious Captain Duke himself.
And just when things seem to start coming together, Diem drops one of the most shocking cliffhangers I’ve had to deal with in a while. And now I am impatiently awaiting the next book….