Author Stacy Gail brings a dark edge to the Christmas holiday in CRIME WAVE IN A CORSET. Roderick may toe the line close to villain territory at the beginning of the story – threatening the instantly likeable Cornelia with death isn’t the most endearing of introductions for a hero – but Ms. Gail slowly brought me around as I learned more about the clever professor. Cornelia and her inventions do tend to steal the show though, which is perhaps appropriate with a thief for a heroine. A healthy dose of sensuality rounds out the enemies-turned-lovers plot, making CRIME WAVE IN A CORSET a sexy seasonal story.
THIS WINTER HEART by PG Forte
Eight years ago, Ophelia’s husband Dario sent her back to her father after discovering that she wasn’t entirely human. Now that her father has died, Ophelia has no choice but to turn to Dario for aid. Dario’s anger at her return intensifies when he learns that Ophelia has a seven-year-old son she never told him about – one he doesn’t believe can be his. Ophelia knows that Dario once loved her…before he found out about her mechanical parts and started viewing her as a machine incapable of returning his love rather than a woman. Can she convince him that she’s far more human than he believes?
Estranged spouses and secret babies may be tried-and-true romance plots, but author PG Forte gives them her own dazzling, unique twist in THIS WINTER HEART. Ophelia wound her way around my heart almost immediately; and I found myself emotionally invested in her story, wanting Ophelia to find happiness. Dario, in turn, is a bit harder to like since he thinks of – or tries to think of – Ophelia as a thing, rather than a person, but Ms. Forte was able to make me follow his logic, even if I didn’t agree with it. I enjoyed watching Dario become the man worthy of Ophelia’s love, and ultimately I found THIS WINTER HEART to be a satisfying, original tale.
WANTED: ONE SCOUNDREL by Jenny Schwartz
Australian heiress and suffragette Esme Smith needs a man. And not just any man, but a respectable scoundrel she can hire to represent her political party, the Women’s Advancement League. American inventor Jedediah Reeve seems to fit the bill perfectly. But as the political intrigue that Esme and Jed are involved in heats up, so does their connection. Will Esme fall for her scoundrel who may or may not be all that he seems?
WANTED: ONE SCOUNDREL is light on both steam and steampunk devices, but it’s an interesting tale. Esme is a smart woman with a spine of steel, ready to go after what she wants. She doesn’t seem to want to depend on anyone, but thankfully, she’s not the type of heroine who turns away help just to make a point. Esme and Jed fit each other well on a number of levels, and the dynamic between them keeps WANTED: ONE SCOUNDREL afloat when the plot slows down in a couple of places. I enjoyed the Australian setting; it was a nice change of pace since almost all of the steampunk stories I’ve read have taken place in England or America. All in all, WANTED: ONE SCOUNDREL was an entertaining story.
FAR FROM BROKEN by JK Coi
Colonel Jasper Carlisle fell fast and hard for prima ballerina Callie and courted her until she agreed to be his wife. Their happiness comes crashing to a halt when Jasper’s enemies kidnap and torture Callie. By the time Jasper is able to find her, only a number of experimental surgeries can save her. But the surgeries leave Callie with a mechanical eye, hand and legs, making her feel like a stranger in her own body. Her anger at Jasper and his guilt at leaving her unprotected threaten to tear them apart. However, Jasper’s not about to give up on Callie or their marriage. He’ll prove to his wife that his love hasn’t changed, and he’ll regain her trust. But Jasper has to move quickly – his old enemies are back, and they’re determined to finish what they once started.
FAR FROM BROKEN is a heartbreaking story about two people finding each other once again. Callie has been through an unbelievable trauma that has left her physically and emotionally injured. Both Jasper and Callie’s true strength shows in how they come to connect with each other and the world around them. Though author JK Coi almost made me cry while reading FAR FROM BROKEN, I absolutely loved the story. The romance, character building, danger and steampunk elements all worked together flawlessly to create one fabulous story. I could go on, but suffice it to say that readers looking for a different kind of romance – one rich in both joy and tragedy – should read FAR FROM BROKEN.
A CLOCKWORK CHRISTMAS contains a quartet of unique steampunk romances. Each story is very different from the others, and I liked not knowing what to expect from one story to the next. The Christmas holiday isn’t really a big element in any of the stories in A CLOCKWORK CHRISTMAS, so readers are sure to enjoy this anthology all year long. Stacy Gail, PG Forte, Jenny Schwartz and JK Coi are all talented authors, and I look forward to reading more of their work.
Note: All the stories in A CLOCKWORK CHRISTMAS are also for sale as individual ebooks.