Flavia's Flying Corset
by Sahara Kelly, historical/fantasy (2010)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 978-1-60928-253-0


Flavia Winters and Dr Harland Gennaro go way back. She not only grew up in the neighborhood as that man, she managed to become his father's apprentice when she was sixteen. She was not only close to Prof Adalfieri Gennaro, she also had a thing with Harland. They didn't do anything more than kissing, but they were hot kisses, and I guess that's what matters at the end of the day.

But all that happened ten years ago. Today, both their fathers had long passed on from the world, and Flavia, now a widow, is back in Roman Rock. Harland is pleased to see her again, and he won't mind rekindling with her what they once had, but she is a woman on a mission that is unfortunately not of a carnal nature. She believes that he has in his possession a gravity-defying material that was stolen from her, and she wants it back.

Unfortunately, the reasons Flavia have for suspecting Harland to be a thief are circumstantial ones - Harland even points this out to her. Not only that, Flavia quickly believes that Harland is not the thief and then proceeds to blab everything about her amazing gravity-defying material (thankfully not called Elphabanium, heh) to him. I tell you, if he really happens to be the thief, this story will not end well.

Apart from the gravity-defying material, there is nothing in this story that emanates a steampunk flavor. Indeed, unlike the other two stories in the Silk, Steel and Steam series, this one has steampunk pretty much as window dressing only. The story is mostly about information dumping and sex scenes. It is hard for me to view Flavia and Harland as viable and memorable characters because they are tainted by their contrived reunion at the start of the story. The whole story, in fact, feels contrived because Flavia's reasons for suspecting Harland and going all this trouble to confront him are silly.

Flavia's Flying Corset is a decent story in any other genre, but because it is marketed as a steampunk story, there are expectations that it fails to fulfill. And no, the flying corset isn't as amazing as I'd have liked. In fact, when it is revealed, my reaction is pretty much a nonchalant, "So? Is that it? Ho hum."

Stacked against the other two stories in the series, poor Flavia's Flying Corset fails to defy gravity - step aside as it gets pulled down by unfulfilled expectations.

Rating: 63


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