Help A Bitch Out

HaBO: Steampunk Archaeologists Fight Over Bones, Plus Ada Lovelace

Help a Bitch OutThis Help a Bitch Out request is from Nancy, who is looking for a book that is not quite a romance, but sounds completely spectacular:

I have a HaBo request. The book is not strictly romance, I don't think, but I seem to recall some romancy bits in it.

It's steampunk and most of the story follows an archaeologist who has come back to England after excavating dinosaur bones in America. He's got this big rivalry with another archaeologist because they think the bones go back together differently.

Then Ada Lovelace gets kidnapped because she's been gambling and a warehouse burns down and someone sleeps with a prostitute.

I think there were other plotlines running along concurrently, but I can't remember them at all.

Seriously, that's all I can remember, it's driving me crazy. 

There are not enough stories with gambling Ada Lovelace. Ada Lovelace should be a background figure in more romances, for really reals. Do you recognize this book?


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  1. 1
    Karenmc says:

    I don’t recognize the book, but Ada Lovelace in romances gives me another idea: Admiral Grace Hopper as a mentor in a mid-20th century romance.

  2. 2
    Hannah says:

    Could it be The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling?

  3. 3

    OT – but could someone point me toward the thread(s) where the bitchery discussed cross-dressing heroes? I remember the Georgette Heyer book, but can’t remember all the other books we discussed and can’t find the comment thread!! Maybe sometime in the last two months… thanks so much!

    Wait … perhaps there is a book where a hero dresses like Ada Lovelace (I followed the link, curious to see who she was, and was suitably impressed. Plus she has a lovely shawl in one of the portraits).

  4. 4
    CarrieS says:

    I don’t know what the book is but I NEED IT LIKE OXYGEN.

  5. 5
    Trai says:

    That Ada Lovelace Wikipedia article mentions the book The Difference Engine. It doesn’t seem to contain any of the plots you mentioned in your request, but it is apparently steampunk, has multiple concurrent plots, and involves gambling (though apparently that was Ada Lovelace’s thing in real life so that’s not surprising).

  6. 6
  7. 7
    harthad says:

    Actually, it does sound like The Difference Engine to me. One of the main characters is a prostitute (the wikipedia plot summary refers to her as a “political courtesan”) and there is also another character who’s a paleontologist and goes to America. I remember this because there are two sex scenes in the book I hated so much that they are etched in my memory, one with the paleontologist and one with the prostitute (no, they don’t get it on together, only with other people).

  8. 8
    Gillian B says:

    Ada Lovelace should be a background figure in more romances, for really reals. I disagree totally.

    She should be the main character in romance novels far more often! Strong, independent historical female nerds who can stand on their own two feet are in ridiculously short supply (and 2d Goggles updates far too slowly).

  9. 9
    Nancy says:

    YES! It is The Difference Engine! Thank you guys so much for the help. My mind is at ease now.

  10. 10

    She’s also a background character in All Men of Genius by Lev Rosen. Not a romance, but a steampunk Twelfth Night / Importance of Being Earnest crossover and great fun.

  11. 11
    Karenmc says:

    CarrieS, thanks so much for the Hopper link. Hilarious, and so opposite of her RL demeanor. Also,The Difference Engine is yet another book to put on my read-it-someday list.

  12. 12
    SB Sarah says:

    @Anna Richland:

    Is this the comment thread you’re looking for? It’s from 2011:

    If it’s another, please let me know and I’ll use my more-powerful back end (hur hur) search tools.

    (NB: one of the focuses I have in the redesign of the site are more robust and user-friendly search options.)

  13. 13
    Jerry Ross says:

    Stumbled across some some sweet Ada Lovelace, and Grace Hopper shirts at “badass women of science”, that might be right up your alley.

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