Phoenix Rising (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #1) - Philippa Ballantine,  Tee Morris
4.5 enthusiastic stars. fantastic fun, with a sweet partnership between two unlikely people!Set in 19th century Victorian England, Phoenix Rising is an adventurous (sometimes sinister) romp through secret brotherhoods, hair raising hansom cab shootout chases and exploding laboratories!Agent Eliza Braun has been remanded to the Ministry of Peculiar Occurances’ (MPO) Archives after her fondness for pushing the limits of her assigned mission boundaries and *ahem* blowing things up have finally landed her in hot water. Paired with a new partner by the mysterious Director of MPO, Eliza believes her illustrious and exciting career in the field might be permanently cut short.Brilliant archivist Wellington Books is quite happy in his quiet underground kingdom nestled alongside the river Thames, thoroughly convinced of the incalculable value he provides to solving the cases of the Ministry. But what happens when the brash, enlightened, and attractive Agent Braun is assigned to partner with him surprises even him! Drawn into an unresolved case that involved Eliza’s former partner (Agent Harrison Thorne, now resident of Bedlam asylum) her investigations force Wellington to follow Eliza down some very dark paths indeed. Along the way we are treated to dry, witty commentary and almost comic confrontations as the two leads snipe and poke at each other, all the while chasing down and foiling more than one set of villainous forces on their tails! Now Welly and Eliza’s mutual attraction is quite obvious, but I wouldn’t characterize the story as a romance, more as a fledgling relationship nurtured by respect and admiration that could quite possibly grow into something more down the road. It’s got ‘the will they or won’t they’ flavor perfectly balanced and I was very pleased by the ‘just enough’ that the authors give us.At the end we are left off quite satisfactorily if open ended, with book two, The Janus Affair, hinting at much more treachery and explosive adventure to come!