I loved Cindy Spencer Pape’s Kilts & Kraken, so when I saw this one up at netgalley I jumped at the chance. The author has built a great Steampunk world, and I love seeing both the mechanical aspects and the political aspects of the plot.
If you’ve read Steam & Sorcery, you’ll see many familiar faces since we’re back with the Hadrian brood. One of those familiar faces is Inspector Liam McCullough (a werewolf). He helped rescue Wink from a vampire when she was younger, around the time the Hadrians adopted her. And ever since then, Wink has been desperately in love with Liam.
Wink is wonderful with machines, gadgets, anything mechanical. She has even designed a brass dog named George who acts as if he were a real dog. Wink has an affinity with machines, almost as if they talk to her. Even she sometimes feels as if George has grown from how she originally engineered him. This is important since Wink isn’t just a tinkerer, or holding down a job. She eats, sleeps, and breathes machinery.
While she may be in love with Liam, he treats her as if she were his sister. He even goes so far as to help Connor, one of the Knights of the Order, to woo her. He says forget flowers and chocolates, bring Wink a broken gadget as a gift. Compliment her intelligence rather than her beauty. And it’s painfully obvious that he’s in love with Wink. Yet he keeps pushing Connor at her.
Wink agrees to consider Connor’s suit, but in the mean time, there’s a mystery on their hands. Men, women, and animals, are all disappearing from London’s working class, stolen by a metal man. There also seems to be something planned for the Ascot races, and Liam is working both cases.
The whole case is getting more and more confusing and more and more twisted. When they finally think they know what is going on, something happens to muddle it even more. It’s really an intriguing plot, and I wish there had been more time spent with the mystery plot, because at one point the romance started to drag a bit.
What I like is that there’s no real love triangle. Wink makes up her mind pretty quickly about Connor, and she knows that she’d rather be a spinster than a wife to someone she doesn’t feel passionate about. What annoyed me though, was Liam’s reluctance to be with Wink. I mean, I get his reasons (his dad was a horrible and abusive father/alpha to him), but it just felt like it dragged on for too long, and when his parental issues were resolved, it seemed like it was way too quick, I mean seriously, something that has shaped the way you see yourself and life and marriage isn’t going to go away after a dinner with your father.
This book’s strongest aspects are the strong world-building and the fun cast of characters, and I don’t think you need to have read the first 3 books to enjoy this one.
***ARC courtesy of Netgalley and Carina Press