Clockwork Heart, by Heidi Cullinan
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Genre: Gay (M/M), Romance, Steampunk, Historical
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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.
This is a tale of alternate history.
Brace yourself for a world of airships and absinthe, tinkers and treason, as Heidi takes you on a wild ride through early 1900s Europe! This novel has everything you’d expect from a Heidi Cullinan novel– complex characters, a delicious romance, and some heart-stopping kinky sex– and the unique alt-history adds an exciting twist to the story!
Our heroes are about as unconventional as the setting. There’s Cornelius, a tinker-surgeon with nimble fingers and a desperation to do what little he can to help end the war.
He was his father’s son, but he was a bastard son, in blood and in spirit.
And there’s Johann, rescued from the brink of death by Cornelius’ skill (and a bit of miracle), brave and solid and loyal to his savior.
He’d been a son, a soldier, a pirate, a human sacrifice. If it meant he could keep feeling like this, he’d be whatever the Frenchman wanted him to be.
The romance was outstanding. It’s a slow-build, and both men have their issues to face, but they have such a strong devotion and commitment to one another than nothing can keep them apart for long.
The plot wasn’t perfect, I’ll admit. A lot is hand-waived by the steampunk universe, and there were a few loose threads that I wanted to see tied up. But this is the first book in a series, so it’s definitely setting the grounds for future character arcs and plotlines. And I didn’t mind the hand-waiving for the most part… the gears-and-gadgets world was fascinating, and I could use my imagination to fill in the gaps.
Heidi Cullinan is an auto-buy author for me. I feel like her characters are genuine and sincere, and the chemistry between the romantic leads is always expertly written. An excellent read!