Title: Clockwork Heart (Clockwork Love #1)
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: February 2nd 2016
Page Count: 248
Reviewed by: Ele
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.3 stars out of 5
Love, adventure and a steaming good time.
As the French army leader’s bastard son, Cornelius Stevens enjoys a great deal of latitude. But when he saves an enemy soldier using clockwork parts, he’s well aware he risks hanging for treason. That doesn’t worry him half as much, however, as the realization he’s falling for his patient.
Johann Berger never expected to survive his regiment’s suicide attack on Calais, much less wake up with mechanical parts. To avoid discovery, he’s forced to hide in plain sight as Cornelius’s lover—a role Johann finds himself taking to surprisingly well.
When a threat is made on Cornelius’s life, Johann learns the secret of the device implanted in his chest—a mythical weapon both warring countries would kill to obtain. Caught up in a political frenzy, in league with pirates, dodging rogue spies, mobsters and princesses with deadly parasols, Cornelius and Johann have no time to contemplate how they ended up in this mess. All they know is, the only way out is together—or not at all.
Warning: Contains tinkers, excessive clockwork appendages, and a cloud-sweeping tour of Europe. A little absinthe, a little theft, a little exhibitionism. Men who love men, women who love women, and some who aren’t particular.
This was my first Steampunk novel and I feel torn. I liked some things, but some others did not work out for me.
I’ll start with the good ones.
I found the setting and the world building to be brilliant. The story is set in 1910 alternate universe , where France rules most part of Europe. The alternate history is central to the plot than simply being used as background. I liked this a lot.
This was a relatively long book, but it’s fast-paced and there is a lot of action that never slows down. This kept my interest alive.
The alternative POV works great and there is an interesting cast of secondary characters. I can’t say I liked them all, but they ‘re pretty well-ketched, regardless.
The premise was good. I mean, the French army leader’s bastard son and tinker surgeon, falls for the Austrian soldier/enemy, who he saved from death. Using a clockwork heart! This is a hell of an idea to work on.
I had some problems in the romance department. The last department I want to have major issues with!
I felt that the romance between Cornelious and Johann was underdeveloped. It seemed that there were a lot of time skips and I’d like more on page time with them alone to just…be. Not trying to dodge electric parasols, escape death or…have sex with other people.
Which brings me to my other niggle; the kink. It just didn’t feel right to me. And let me tell you, I’m a big fan of Ms. Cullinan’s Special Delivery, where the exact same kink (exhibitionism and sharing partners) was perfection. Here, it felt out of place, for two reasons:
First, it happened too soon. Johann and Connie were not in that place yet, where they could explore this kind of thing without it hurting their relationship.
And, second, Johann never felt comfortable in this role, his inner thoughts speak of that. It was almost like he gave in because Connie got off on it. Poor guy’s attempts to talk dirty and commanding seemed awkward and cringe worthy to me. And when he eventually gives in, he’s high as a kite.
So no, the kink didn’t work for me at all, although I find it delicious in my romance, when done right. Again, Special Delivery.
Overall, I recommend this book for Steampunk lovers. I liked it, but didn’t love it. I doubt I’ll read the next one in the series:(