Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Book Review: A Clockwork Christmas

A Clockwork Christmas

By:  J.K. Coi, P.G. Forte, Stacy Gail, Jenny Schwartz

Publisher:  Carina Press

Publish Date:  December 5, 2011

Genre:  Steampunk Romance

Series:  Anthology

Recommendation:  Four lovely romance stories with clockwork and steampunk world setting, coming into Christmas holiday.  Daring, sexy, sweet, and dark stories in one place.

Book Synopsis:
Crime Wave in a Corset
By:  Stacy Gail

Roderick Coddington is on a mission to make Cornelia Peabody pay.  After identifying her as the thief who stole a priceless Faberge egg from his dying sister, he finds her and shackles a deadly timepiece to her arm.

If she doesn't return the egg by Christmas morning, she will die.

Normally seven days is more than enough time for Cornelia to carry out the perfect crime, but Roderick's intrusion into her life is beyond distracting.  He challenges her mind, and ignites her body with desire she's never felt before.  But worst of all, he threatens the independence she values above all else...

As Roderick spends time with Cornelia, he realizes there's a lonely soul hidden beneath her beautiful but criminal veneer.  Falling for a thief wasn't part of Roderick's plan, but plans can change and he has no intention of letting another priceless treasure get away from him.

The Winter Heart
By:  PG Forte

Santa Fe, The Republic of New Texacali, 1870

Eight years ago, Ophelia Leonides's husband cast her off when he discovered she was not the woman he thought she was.  Now destitute after the death of her father, Ophelia is forced to turn to Dario for help raising the child she never told him about.

Dario is furious that Ophelia has returned, and refuses to believe Arthur is his son - after all, he thought his wife was barren.  But to avoid gossip, he agrees to let them spend the holidays at his villa.  While he cannot resist the desire he still feels for Ophelia, Dario despises himself for being hopelessly in love with a woman who can never love him back.

But Dario is wrong: Ophelia's emotions are all too human, and she was brokenhearted when he rejected her.

Unsure if she can trust the man she desperately loves, she fears for her life, her freedom and her son if anyone else learns of her true nature...

Wanted: One Scoundrel
By:  Jenny Schwartz

All suffragette Esme Smith wants is a man.  A scoundrel to be precise.  Someone who can be persuaded to represent her political views at men-only clubs.  As the daughter of the richest man in Australia, Esme can afford to make it worth the right man's while.

Fresh off the boat, American inventor Jed Reeve is intrigued by Esme's proposal, but even more interested in the beauty herself.  Amused that she takes him for a man who lives by his wits, he accepts the job - made easier by the fact that he already shares her ideals.

Soon, he finds himself caught up in political intrigue, kidnapping and blackmail, and trying to convince his employer he's more than just a scoundrel...

Far From Broken
By:  JK Coi

Soldier.  Spymaster.  Husband.

Colonel Jasper Carlisle was defined by his work until he meet his wife.  When the prima ballerina swept into his life with her affection, bright laughter and graceful movements, he knew that she was the reason for his existence, and that their love would be forever.

But their world is shattered when Callie is kidnapped and brutally tortured by the foes Jasper has been hunting.

Mechanical parts have replaced her legs, her hand, her eye... and possibly her heart.  Though she survived, her anger at Jasper consumes her, while Jasper's guilt drives him from the woman he loves.  He longs for the chance to show her their love can withstand anything...including her new clockwork parts.

As the holiday season approaches, Jasper realizes he must fight not just for his wife's love and forgiveness...but also for her life, as his enemy once again attempts to tear them apart.

First Sentences:
Crime Wave in a Corset
A mink-lined cloak hooked beneath her chin, and hands ensconced in a matching muff, Cornelia Peabody approached a band of children caroling near the Beacon Street entrance of Boston Commons.

The Winter Heart
The battered airship creaked in feeble protest as the mooring lines were winched tighter, tethering it to the landing dock.

Wanted: One Scoundrel
"I need a scoundrel, Uncle Henry."  Esme Smith's gloved hands tightened on her reticule.

Far From Broken
It was dark when she awoke.

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My Thoughts and Summary:
Crime Wave in a Corset
Cornelia returns home to signs someone had tripped her defenses and broke into her home, then to find someone, a man, attack her in her hidden office.  Roderick Codington.  Roderick finds he's attracted to the woman he fastens his deadly wrist shackle on and giving her seven days, until Christmas morning, before it will kill her unless she brings to him what she stole from him.  A Fabrege Egg that brought happiness to a loved one.  Once Cornelia learns where the Fabrege Egg is, she realizes whether she tries to get it or not, she very well could die by Christmas or if she does pull it off she'll break another's heart.

This story is full of steampunk gadgets.  That's what a steampunk story should have!  Clockwork devices, dawning of electrical harmful devices, and more.  I have a soft spot for crafty thieves, and Cornelia is a successful thief at that.  She keeps a hidden office accessed by a steam powered dumbwaiter along with many more at her fingertips.

We start with one chapter from Cornelia's view then go to Roderick's view.  A romance love story in which maybe both Cornelia and Roderick will have more than gifts by Christmas morning while they learn about themselves and each other.

The Winter Heart
Ophelia and her son, Arthur, exit the Airship they took from Pennsylvania to Texacali where she left her estranged husband eight years earlier.  Now needing her husband's support, she returns.  Ophelia is more than her husband, Dario, had known.  They married for love, but Ophelia wasn't what he thought, and she never told him.  Now Dario's all that's left of his family and married to a woman who left when he found out the truth about her and he believed her to be barren, no children to carry on the Leonides family name.  When Dario hears of Ophelia's return, he takes her and her proclaimed son back to his home claiming for the holidays but to really stop the rumors circulating through town.  By taking them home and making the mistake of not thinking Ophelia can love anyone, he might put his only son in harms way unless he learns and accepts the what lies deep in him and his wife.

These two were deeply in love, a true love and even with what happened between them eight years ago they both feel the love and desires for the other - neither knowing of the other's feelings.  Dario wonders on Ophelia's true emotions since not really human.  Is her love real?  Was it ever?

There is mention of mechanical technology in this story.  Clockwork mechanicals.  I love the mention of the garden with pipes and such to keep ground warm.  And then Ophelia!  Wow.  Ophelia is special, different thanks to her father.  Part mechanical.  I love this creation!

Ophelia is fighting a battle she has no idea she's fighting, and no idea how to win.  Dario has to make a choice to believe Arthur is really his human son and not an automaton.  Then decide what to do about his wife.

This story pulls at heart strings as you want Arthur to be accepted and Dario to accept his wife for what and who she is.

Wanted: One Scoundrel
Esme wants a scoundrel; a well dressed, well spoken man who all in town will like, to front her political campaign on the manly side since one man has convinced other to carry political discussions in Gentleman clubs.  She'll even pay him.  Esme's Uncle, running a skimmer boat in from England, has just the man - an American who won money from all passengers every night on the trip, Jed Reeve.  Esma heads the suffragette movement in Australia and is hard at work at making changes.  Jed has found he's attracted to Esme at the first meeting and looks forward to working closely with her.

As I read this sweet story I became ever so curious of why Jed came to Australia and who he is to be able to pick up the reins of what Esme wants, and do a fine job with them.  All this we learn in the end.  And it was wonderfully played.

This story for me felt like the sweet innocent love.  It's not at intimate as the others but pure innocent falling in love here.  I liked reading as Esme and Jed became closer and not even know it.

Far From Broken
She wakes in a hospital room made to be cozy, with her appendages heavier and not her own... metal and a mechanical eye.  She wanted to die, they wouldn't let her.  Thinking she'll never dance again and where is her Jasper?  Four months has passed as Jasper was sent away from his wife as he seemed to upset her and to find those who attacked and tortured her and others, Jasper is now on his way to retrieve his wife.  Jasper works to get close to his wife again.  As she seems to come out of her shell, there are debts to be paid for saving her life and possibly danger for both still surviving.

Oh, this one caught my attention on many different levels from the get go.  There are hints of many things, and all are answered here.  I wondered on what the plans were with creating Callie into what she is, why she was attacked, and if these two could find a way to get to know each other again.

Jasper feels guilty, he's the reason she was attacked and tortured, and the one who saved and asked to have this work done to her - to have his love, Callie, with him.  Now the War Office is coming to see what they've created and Jasper fears they will try to lay claim on his sweet Callie.  Callie seems furious with Jasper as with all that pain, she just wanted to die.

I was drawn in to the characters with the recovery and learning what happened, then the action started!  This story was full of elements to draw you into their dark events and to see light at the end of the tunnel, and action.  This is a complete story yet there is a feeling as the author could easily pick up with these characters and do more short stories with them.  And, truth be told, I would love to follow this couple!  Agents in the line of duty, and with the amazing abilities Callie now possesses while she learns from Jasper the experienced spy and fighter.  Ooo, that would be so good!


I enjoyed all the Holiday centered stories, and it's perfect for the holidays.  I think two stood out over all for me; Crime Wave in a Corset and Far From Broken.  I think these two stood out for me because they had more action and mystery to them.  Oh goodness, after writing the review I realized I loved each of these stories in different ways as they are all different in their designs.  You have daring, sexy, sweet, and dark stories in one place.


**I was offered this anthology for an honest review.

16 comments:

  1. Not usually a fan of the short story, I'm willing to make an exception for this selection.

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    1. Petty Witter, I hope you enjoy these stories. It was nice for Christmas with a blend of steampunk. :) Thank you.

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  2. I do enjoy anthologies and have yet to read a steampunk one. Plus they are all so different. Oh I do think I need this anthology!

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    1. Oh Melissa (B&T) this would be a great antho for your steampunk week. ;) They are all different so that was great for me. Hope you get a chance to enjoy it.

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  3. Not a fan of shorties, but sometimes they work, and I do like when they are holiday centered

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    1. Blodeuedd, that was what sold me on these, the holiday centering. I need to do more for the holidays. :) And that they were of steampunk was a great combo for me. :) Thank you for stopping.

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  4. you know that I don't read a lot of anthologies, it's always difficult for me because it's too short but I love this cover and it sounds nice so maybe one day.

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    1. Melliane, many feel the same way about anthologies. :) I understand. Thank you for stopping!

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  5. So glad you enjoyed these, I read this last year and really enjoyed them. I love steampunk and this was a great intro to some fab authors.

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    1. Oh Kimba, I was really surprised with the blend of the four stories. It was really fun, now I have a short story by JK Coi to get that goes with the one in this book. :D Thank you.

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  6. Wow, I never seen a steampunk anthology before. sounds great.

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    1. Jennifer Bielman, I know this was put out for 2011 Christmas, but it was completely new to me and I really was glad I found it. :) Thank you.

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  7. Great review! I really like how you featured each story by itself. I love anthologies, but usually not a fan of steampunk. Need to get this one though, because I love the sound of The Winter Heart and Far From Broken!

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    1. Alexia, I always think of you with anthologies. But I think those two would be amazing reads for you in this one. :) Thank you for stopping, and hope you get to try this one. :)

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  8. I have this anthology but haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I always run out of holiday reading time.

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    1. Oh Carol, I do hope you enjoy it when you get to it. And it would be a great one for Christmas in July? Lol. Thank you for stopping.

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