Title: Clockwork Heart
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: February 2, 2016
The Breakfast Octopus’ rating: A
Thanks to Samhain Publishing for this review copy!
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.
I stayed up way too late reading Heidi Cullinan’s Clockwork Heart, and it was worth every sleep-deprived minute.
I loved the combination of the brilliant inventor who’s also a bit of a flake but is charming, and the stoic soldier who is so worldly-wise in some ways and so delightfully clueless in others. Too often the genius inventors have no people skills, and it was great to see that stereotype turned on its head.
I wouldn’t have called myself a steampunk fan before reading this, but now I’ll have to check out more. Cullinan deftly weaves the alternate history of Europe with the invention of clockwork organs and limbs, and it all works seamlessly. It didn’t feel over-explained and it was easy to sink into her world.
I did get a bit bogged down in the last third of the book, getting befuddled about who was where and why, but I’m willing to believe that it had as much to do with my lack of sleep as anything else. And there’s one character who stuck out as possible sequel bait, not seeming to fit precisely in this story, but I’m so eager to read the sequel that I don’t care. (See you soon, Valentin?)
There are swashbuckling sky pirates! Competence porn! Intrigue! Realistic scenes of linguistic and cultural misunderstanding presented in touching and hilarious ways! It’s an adventure story that has a lovely soul to it.
Cullinan is a new author to me, and now I’m excited to hunt down and devour everything in her backlist.
Clockwork Heart comes out on February 2nd from Samhain Publishing.
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