It is nice to stumble across a long, entertaining series when on vacation. The first book in the Magnificent Devices series is free, and after I finished it I promptly bought a book bundle that contained the next three books.
The Victorian setting is typical of the steampunk genre, with the British class system split between Wits and Bloods. Claire is born in a family where she is expected to make a good marriage and settle down and raise a family, however her natural interest in Engineering makes her dream of attending a university. When her family falls on hard times, Claire finds herself free to make her own way in the world, and she accidentally becomes an adoptive mother to a large group of orphans, despite her only being 17.
Claire is unfailingly intrepid, securing a mysterious weapon to defend herself and her charges, setting up a school to teach the orphans how to read and write, and running poker games and intelligently investing the proceeds so she has a means of supporting herself independently. While the first book takes place in England, the next part of the series takes a detour to North America, both the Wild West and Canada. The extended cast are all well-characterized, and while Claire is the main focus of the books, this means that some of the sequels can focus more on the orphans as they begin to grow up. There are plenty of quirky touches, like the hen that follows Claire’s adoptive family about, and her engineering prowess ensures that most of the time she just saves herself instead of waiting to be rescued whenever she gets into a threatening situation.
While there are hints of romance, for the most part the books in the series that I’ve read so far focus much more on steampunk adventure and character development. I’m finding it very relaxing to read this series while I’m on vacation, and I recommend it if you enjoy steampunk as a genre.