Title ~ Clockwork Heart (Clockwork Love)
Author ~ Heidi Cullinan
Publisher ~ Samhain
Published ~ 2nd February 2016
Genre ~ M/M Paranormal Erotic Romance, Steampunk
Love, 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.
I don't pick steampunk up that often, but there’s definitely something about an alternative history style universe that draws me in. Whether it's an arcane, metaphysical twist—a la Jordan Hawk and K.J. Charles—or a fantasy/Sci-Fi historical universe primarily powered by clockwork mechanics and steam, it does tend to tickle my fancy.
What I love about AU tales, is however intense the central romance gets, the storytelling surrounding and supporting is just as strong and equally compelling. Chock full of action, adventure, intrigue, excitement and interestingly plotted world building; the whole shebang grabs you in…and with it's rollicking good storyline, motley crew of extremely delightful air pirates, quirky side characters, double agents and nefarious baddies; Clockwork Heart meets all the above criteria and then some!
I adored Cornelius and Johann as a couple. Their poignant 'introduction' at the very start of the book was so bittersweet I felt an emotional connection to them, and the promise of what was to come, straight away. Totally gripped from the moment apprentice tinker-surgeon Cornelius 'Conny' Stevens found Johann Burgers dying and broken among a pile of slaughtered Austrian soldiers, I knew I was going to love this book.
The bastard son of an ambitious, power hungry French General and a young Austrian soldier with a surprising past of his own, they're complete opposites in so many ways. Adversaries in a pointless war and so different in their personal lives they shouldn't work, yet they compliment each other beautifully. Johann's solid, quietly centered but slightly naive character a perfect foil for openly gay Conny's flamboyant, at times slutty, but always sweet natured persona. Cornelius’ hatred of his fathers involvement spurring him on to save Johann; never imagining he'd begin to feel so attached to the man he’s reanimated with clockwork limbs and a heart that runs on cogs and wheels. Feelings his unexpected patient finds himself reciprocating.
Both captivating in different ways, watching them first grow closer and then fall in love, all while trying to stop Conny's despotic father getting his hands on the revolutionary clockwork heart (now hiding in Johann's chest) was sheer bliss.
Then when sex does enter the equation, Heidi hits the story with a sizzling dose of trademark Cullinan kink, giving the 'steam' in steampunk a whole new meaning. These two are so hot together they could definitely boil water!
Be still Johann's clockwork beating heart...and mine!
That sealed the deal for me, because no one manages to integrate hard hitting kink into a story, alongside the tenderness of a romance, and still make it an emotional factor quite like Heidi Cullinan. If you love that element of M/M, this fantastic author does it SO well!
I loved everything. Fell deeply in heart with the good guys, booed the baddies. Gasped when things didn't go to plan, cheered when they did. Sighed at the sweetness of the romance, wallowed in the dirty talk and kink, and just sat back and delighted in the complete and utter entertainment of it all. The intrigue around the clockwork heart cleverly woven into the enticing steampunk world that one of my fave one click authors invented. Plus I had fun trying to translate Conny's naughty "Francais" dirty talk using my ancient schoolgirl French and my friend, Google! Lol...
If Ms Cullinan's first attempt at steampunk produced this gem, which turned out to be an absolute cracker, then I can't wait for book two! Hoping we get Valentin's story next.