An exciting, fast-paced and very, very sexy steampunk romance series.
I am now hooked on a new series, the Clockwork Agents by Kate Cross, and I’m cheating a bit and doing a two-in-one review, largely because what I liked in both books was the same. (I blame Mirna of Rendezvous books for another excellent recommendation.)
This steampunk series is set in Victorian England and is filled with interesting inventions, gadgets and robotics—Cross does a good job of integrating corsets, guns and gadgets. I especially liked the world building and the combination of steampunk and spy vs spy plot. I wouldn’t say it’s entirely historically accurate—they say fuck and shite!—but as this is a steampunk novel, I expected the authors to take some liberties.
Heart of Brass features Lady Arden Grey, whose husband Luke disappears on a mission for the Wardens of the Realm, a covert organisation created to protect the British Empire. Seven years later, an assassin is sent to kill her in retribution for her killing of a Company agent (their rival spy organisation) and she recognizes him as her husband, who has no memory of who she is or any of his past. Arden is a strong, very resourceful heroine, who never lost faith in her husband, Luke, who starts off being a bit of a prick before he gets his memory back.
There’s also a side plot with Arden helping out Scotland Yard in investigations using her special gadgets—she’s an inventor—and solving a mystery as to who is murdering young girls. I don’t think this side plot was necessary, though, and in some ways it detracted from the main story of Arden and Luke figuring out who brainwashed him and trying to help him get back his memories. That story was meaty enough to not need a distraction. There are also a few things I found a bit convenient—like how they have a master surgeon who has a magic elixir that can fix everything, but we don’t know what it is. I hope that’s explained when she gets her own novel.
Touch of Steel features Claire Brooks, who works for the Company. Her brother, also a spy, was killed in the line of duty, and the Company doesn’t care enough to investigate. Claire swears revenge and in the process gets caught by the Wardens. She then has to team up with Alistair Payne, Earl of Woford, to catch the guy who killed her brother along with the Doctor who brainwashed Luke in the first book.
I liked Claire better as a heroine because she was slightly more kick-arse, and I could somehow relate to her better. The plotting in this book is tighter, and while the previous book is more gadget-y, this book is more adventure-filled, with the characters travelling in a submersible, a cruise ship, a dirigible and, well, just running around a lot.
However, I have to mention three peevish things that I didn’t like about this book:
1. The hero has had enhancements done to make him a better spy. He can see in the dark, so his eyes glow in the dark when the lights are out, freaking the heroine out even though she knew he’d been enhanced. How can you have sex without being creeped out?
2. The heroine acts in Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the author refers to her character as Tatiana, when it is actually Titania. That’s poor editing. She’s meant to be a Shakespearean actress who doesn’t like Shakespeare. It’s not a typo if you keep saying it.
3. The hero—this is a minor spoiler, but it’s a romance novel so we expect them to get married—proposes in climax. Like when he’s having his moment. Inside her. The whole proposal while you’re having sex thing is a pet peeve for me as it is, and really with all their mega-sex (this is romance, and every love scene is mega-supercalifragelisticexpialidocious-explosive sex) I don’t know how he’d have the brains to say that, and how she’d have the brains to hear it and accept. (With matching glowing eyes!)
Yay or nay?
All in all I really love this series, and can’t wait for the next book. It’s exciting, fast-paced and humurous and very, very sexy. I would recommend it for anyone looking for a fresh and new adventure. (Thanks, Mirna!)
Who might enjoy it: Readers looking for a new adventure
Who might not enjoy it: Sticklers for historical accuracy
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