I have to admit, just the concept of a steampunk romance sold me. It was the follow through and underlying threads of post-colonial theory and prejudice, in so many manifestations, so masterfully presented that wowed me. There was no lecturing; the action drove the plot and the character interactions. This is a book that I would recommend to non-romance readers based on the world development and plot alone. That said, there is a very strongly developed romance present. It is not one of spun sugar and unicorns, but dark, rich, and poignantly bittersweet at times. This book was so good, I'm almost afraid to read the next in Brook's Iron Seas series. Question is can I take a leap of faith and abandon my fear of disappointment? Probably. After all, there are several fantastic secondary characters that whisper to me, even now, a month later.