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An opium-addicted beauty.
An infamous poet living in self-imposed exile.
An ancient treasure about to fall into the wrong hands.
Melanie Karsak’s Chasing the Star Garden takes readers on a thrilling adventure from the gritty opium dens of gaslamp London to the gem-colored waters of the ancient world. Lily Stargazer, a loveable but reckless airship racer with a famous lover and shattered past, reluctantly plunges into a centuries-old mystery in a steampunk romantic adventure best described as Dan Brown meets Mary Shelley.
It all begins on one of the worst days of Lily’s life. She just lost the London leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix. To top it off, a harlequin fleeing from constables shoved a kaleidoscope down her pants, told her to fly to Venice, then threw himself from her airship tower. What’s a girl to do? For Lily, the answer is easy: drink absinthe and smoke opium.
Lily’s lover, Lord Byron, encourages her to make the trip to Venice. Lily soon finds herself at the heart of an ancient mystery which has her running from her past and chasing true love and the stars along the way.
Lily Stargazer is an unforgettable anti-heroine. She was an orphan with a troubled past that has made her tough and talented, but has left her drowning in drug addiction and debauchery to ease her pain. But when a silent Harlequin stuffs an object down her pants and leaps to his death, it sets in motion an adventure that will make Lily face the ghosts of her past in order to see the love that has been waiting at her fingertips.
Her story takes us on a tour of Europe and the Mediterranean by way of airship. There are sky pirates and fortune hunters who join the ghosts of her past in pursuit of her. An interesting band of characters surround her, from a tinkerer to a temple “prostitute” to a warrior poet.
I actually “read” this book entirely by audio in my car on a long trip – there and back again (it’s not a short read). But I was so immersed in the world the author built that it was a good thing that I was following another car the whole time, or I might have missed an exit and gotten lost… The author’s use of setting and costumes build a world that the reader can see, hear, and touch. As a reader of clean fiction, I’d have to rate this book “R” for drug use and sexual situations. But, this is a very good story with a great character arc. It’s inspiring, charming, and keeps you thinking about the characters long after you’ve set it aside. This book is easily a stand alone with a TREMENDOUS and complete feel in the end, although the author promises more!
Interesting side note
…I googled “Chasing the Star Garden” and “Youtube” and was treated with this:
…what’s awesome, is that Lord Byron is a character in the book ~ and his description here could easily fit Lily Stargazer.