The books are set in an alternate Victorian age where the combustion engine has been a flop and steam-powered devices are capable of sending the adventurous to another city, another continent ... or even another world.
The series follows Lady Claire Trevelyan, a young woman of resources and intellect, as she makes her way in the world. Claire does not have much patience for the life of a proper lady. Instead she intends to go to university, study Engineering and become a fine scientist.
She has but just graduated when her father loses the family fortune and kills himself. Through a series of unfortunate events she finds herself on the streets, taking charge of a band of ragamuffins. Through application of lessons in mathematics, strategy and poker they manage to keep themselves alive. Claire's prowess in Chemistry, Engineering and their practical application in the rough life on the wrong side of the river earn her the title Lady of Devices. But there are still Claire's mother and Lord James Selwyn, who expect Claire to be a proper lady and be married to Lord James by Christmas.
- Lady of Devices
- Her Own Devices
- Magnificent Devices
- Brilliant Devices
The books show examples of:
- Action Girl: Lady Claire becomes this. Alice Chalmer is this, also.
- Alternate History: Well, Victorian England with Steampunk.
- Disappeared Dad, and Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Alice's dad.
- For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: Claire goes to a fancy-dress ball in her raiding rig, complete with the Lightning Rifle.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Claire. She is the Lady of Devices. 'Nuff said.
- Happily Adopted: Claire and the Mopsies. And Rosie.
- Historical Domain Character: Prince Andrew, Lord Zeppelin.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Tigg. His name is only revealed when Andrew wants to put it on the patent for the Carbonizer
- Silk Hiding Steel: Lady Claire. Also Lady Dunsmuir
- Sky Pirate: Ned Mose. Complete with a walk of the plank up high.
- Spot of Tea: Pouring tea in the correct manner takes months of schooling for young ladies.
- Steam Punk: Everything's powered by steam. Almost.