Clockwork Heart (Vallie’s Review)

Clockwork heart
Title: Clockwork Heart (Clockwork Love #1)
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Genre(s): Steampunk
Page Count: 248
Reviewed by: Vallie
Heat Level: 5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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

Steampunk isn’t usually my thing –the few times I’ve tried reading it, it hasn’t held my interest. But this book made me seriously reconsider. Heidi Cullinan has created an amazing alternate world, where tinker surgeons are the epitome of masterful engineering. They can create anything, not only prosthetic limbs, but vital organs, including a top secret heart that could wreak havoc in the wrong hands.

Conny is an apprentice tinker surgeon, but we soon find out that he is beyond a mere assistant. He finds a mortally wounded German soldier and saves him by giving him artificial limbs and a heart. I have to say bravo to the author here. The level of detail that goes into the tinkering and the technology involved is astounding. I was actually fascinated by reading about every little part of the process Cornelius followed to repair the broken soldier. Said soldier wakes up and things become even more interesting.

Johann is initially terrified of his clockwork and resents Cornelius for giving it to him. The language barrier was handled really well with Conny trying to mime what exactly he had to do to save Johann and what they needed to keep him a secret. Of course there are developing feelings but this is a proper slow burn. After all, they have other things to worry about.

There is so much adventure in this story: soldiers searching for them spies everywhere, a pirate ship that takes them on, an decadent pleasures in Italy. Be warned: as sensual and intimate the sex scenes between Conny and Johann initially might be, the kink that follows is classic Cullinan. If you’ve read any of her older BDSM novels, you get the idea. No actual BDSM here, but there are orgy parties, serious dirty talk, and a ménage scene. Clockwork fetish, anyone? If monogamy is where you draw the line, you might be put off, but the emotional aspect was put in the forefront for the whole scene, so I personally felt okay with it. Johann doesn’t initially want Conny to be with another man but when he gets that Conny’s need it to be dominated, given away, all under the control of Johann, they quickly work it out and the results are scorching hot! It’s on the extreme side, but it’s only one scene.

There are plot twists, heart-ache, and very anxiety provoking situations toward the end of the book. But of course, the baddies lose and all is restored. Johann and Conny make for an amazing couple and I am hoping Val’s book is next!

Highly recommend!

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Galley copy of Clockwork Heart provided by Samhain publishing in exchange of an honest review.

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