Although Courting Trouble is definitely a sequel to Wanted: One Scoundrel, I think it will also stand alone fairly well. None of the plot, beyond the fact that the two main characters met in book 1, depends on earlier plot points.
Esme is a suffragette in
Part of Schwartz's alternate universe is the introduction of Bombaytown in the Swan River colony. Much like Chinatown, but Indian, it plays a central role in Courting Trouble when Gupta, the teenager Jed saved in book 1, comes to Jed and Esme for help. Of course, this leads to the central dastardly plot and direction of action. In the end, the bad guy seemed to me to be as much a victim of colonialism/the British Raj as of his own crazies, something I didn't think was quite addressed as much as it could've been.
All in all, Courting Trouble was a great fun read and I was a bit disappointed when it was over so soon. I certainly wouldn't object to reading a novel-length story set in the same world. From Wanted: One Scoundrel to Courting Trouble, I feel Schwartz's writing has improved, becoming tighter. The steampunk elements which originally drew me to the series are still crucial to the plot, though perhaps less prominent (or less silly?) than in Wanted.
I definitely recommend Courting Trouble to anyone who's read and liked Wanted: One Scoundrel or to anyone interested steampunk, particularly those looking for a different setting. (Also, if anyone knows of any other Australian-flavoured steampunk books, please let me know; I'd love to read them.)
4.5 / 5 stars