Review: Clockwork Heart, by Heidi Cullinan

Blurb:

cover-heidicullinan-clockworkheartLove, adventure and a steaming good time.

Clockwork Love, Book 1

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.


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Dates read:
Edition read:
February 2, 2016
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Steampunk, Historical-Edwardian, M/M, GLBT+
243 e-book pages
3rd person
Book 1, Clockwork Love
February 3-4, 2016
Kindle Edition
See the book on GoodReads.

Rating:     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
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Review:

Tinker Pirate Soldier Spy™ *

Or, Clockwork Heart.

Steampunk. Set in the early 1910s, in France and surrounding areas, before the real WWI means this is Edwardian-ish, I guess, as far as the era.

This book is a total re-write of history in that France is the major empire obsessed with conquering all of Europe in scandalous ways. Make sure to read the Author Notes at the beginning where Heidi explains more thoroughly the state of the world during the course of events that take place therein.

I have mixed feelings.

On one hand, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed this. It was, for me, quite thought provoking–in the aspect of some morality issues. And, I really liked all of the characters we’re supposed to like and detested the ones we aren’t. I laughed, I nearly cried, I was engaged and intrigued. The romance between Cornelius and Johann was sweet, believable, and hot as combusting phlogiston.

But.

Yep, I’ve got a but.

While there was plenty of momentum to keep the story going and I was engaged, the blurb led me to believe that this would be a mad-dash race against the evil pursuers with these guys constantly on the verge of capture. There were a few tricky moments here and there–but they felt quite rare and fell a little short for me.

Meaning: there was lots and lots of downtime for lurve and sex and tinkering and parties and more sex and more lurve–and the baddies were, I dunno where doing what.

The few moments of conflict that arose were resolved incredibly quickly and, for me, way too perfectly.

All hell finally broke loose around 70% and the momentum lunged forward with way more action and suspense. I was glad for this. Really glad. ‘Cause my level of frustration was ever increasing and I thought I’d just end up with a sweet book I only liked. Mostly sort of.

There were a few small lulls in the last 30% but nothing to get worked up over. They were, I think, necessary breathers for me and the characters.

Heidi can spin a fantastic tale, make no mistake. Her characters are exceptionally entertaining and nuanced. The writing and world-building here were, I thought, outstanding. Overall sparkly geared-up clever fun AND a promising start to a new series.

My BUT had me balanced on a solid I-Liked-It-Three-Stars. Then…that last 30%, man. That did it. I gots both feet planted firmly on the fourth star.

Also, thank ya Jeezus Kindle has a translator so I could learn some dirty words and phrases in French, German, and Italian…and know what the characters were on about.

* This is a total play on the similarly titled book/movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy–of which I haven’t (yet) read nor (yet) seen but do know bears no resemblance whatsoever to genre or plot, or character (I don’t think), to Clockwork Heart. It’s just me attempting nerdy cuteness.

 

This review also posted on GoodReads.

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