The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow
Urban Fantasy, odd couple who become partners and probably fall in love, Steampunk variation. It’s attractive, though.
Emma Bannon, forensic sorceress in the service of the Empire, has a mission: to protect Archibald Clare, a failed, unregistered mentath. His skills of deduction are legendary, and her own sorcery is not inconsiderable. It doesn’t help much that they barely tolerate each other, or that Bannon’s Shield, Mikal, might just be a traitor himself. Or that the conspiracy killing registered mentaths and sorcerers alike will just as likely kill them as seduce them into treachery toward their Queen. In an alternate London where illogical magic has turned the Industrial Revolution on its head, Bannon and Clare now face hostility, treason, cannon fire, black sorcery, and the problem of reliably finding hansom cabs. The game is afoot..
There’s one more novel out as of now.
It’s a lot of fun!
Worldbuilding! Saintcrow has created a lovely alternate Victorian England–everything’s just tilted a little bit to the side.
Dragons! There are mysterious and powerful dragons who live in this England. Trying to figure out what they are up to is a big part of Bannon’s job.
Unexpected Romance! I will just say here that the bit of romance that is in the story did not go at all as I was expecting.
If you like urban fantasy steampunk at all, you’ll probably enjoy this one. Bannon and Clare are an odd couple in the classic buddy-cop kind of way: Bannon is a powerful sorceress, and Clare is a deductive genius. Side characters are interesting and varied; of special interest is Queen Victoria. It’s not quite as lighthearted or amusing as some urban fantasies, but still very enjoyable. The only real problems I had with the book were nitpicky. For example, I kept thinking that Clare was the female of the pair, because, well, Clare is usually a girl’s name. The patterns of thought were distinct to each narrator, however, so I remembered shortly into each Clare-narrated chapter. My other big problem was also to do with Clare. He’s already a deductive genius who uses strong observational skills to wow his acquaintances, did he really need to have a casual drug habit and play the violin? Your readers probably aren’t that stupid, they will get the Holmes reference without making him an exact copy! Once the story really got going, it became unimportant, but it did bug me in the beginning.
Borrowed from work, because I am poor and live in a small apartment.