Love, adventure and a steaming good time.
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.
While I am not a fan of Steampunk as to me the overall concept just doesn’t work, the fact the book was written by Heidi Cullinan one of my favorite authors made me go “Yes, I’ll read & review.”
Clockwork Heart takes place in alternative history, which is always an interesting story arc. Napoleon was never defeated and France has hold on a vast amount of Europe. Tinker surgeons replace body parts with ‘clockwork’ parts. Aether makes the world go round… literally. And dirigibles are the desired way to travel.
Cornelius is the son of the man driving France’s conquest of the world and he is the exact opposite of his father. While his father wants world domination and will kill anyone to get it, Cornelius wants to fix things and hates war and death.
As such, one night when he’s out walking around and sees a barge filled with dead men, when he realizes one is not yet dead, he puts his life on the line by rescuing an enemy soldier, taking him back to his tinker shop, and fixing him. Two new legs and a new arm later, things still aren’t working as the soldier’s heart fails. As Cornelius’s master tinker surgeon created a clockwork heart, Cornelius (known as Conny) used it to save the man.
And thus starts the romance part of the story.
I will admit, I did love this interesting clockwork world Cullinan created where tinkers are lauded and everyone wants one in their employ. And Johann & Conny’s relationship was interesting to say the least. I’m glad the author didn’t fall for the best friend turned bad trope so many authors tend to use as I liked Conny’s best friend Val. However, I never truly got to know Johann. Even though some of the story was from his POV, he still seemed distant and not very real to me. Why did he make the choices he made? Why did he fall for Conny? It was almost as though he were fully made of clockwork rather than a human being after being outfitted with a Clockwork Heart. But as we never saw him before the heart, there’s no way to know if he was that way beforehand.
As interesting as the story was and the relationship between Johann and Conny, there was a full third of the book in the middle that was really slow. It felt like the story was going nowhere. While I enjoyed the use of French and German, half the time I did get frustrated not having any idea what they were saying. I found the majority of the sex in the book a bit of a yawn. However, there was one rather hot DP scene right before the real action of the story started.
All in all, a good story. Just a really long lag in the middle.
Cornelius is the bastard son of an English Actress and French main driving force. The thing about Conny is that he want peace, he is what they call a tinker surgeon. He dedicates his life to helping people who have lost limbs in the war, by replacing them with his clockwork extremities. He also parties rather extensively with his group of friends.
As he walks of a night of Indulgence he sees a barge filled with the dead bodies of Austrian solders. He hears something that calls to him, when he checks it out he finds a live solder on the barge. He takes the wounded man bake to his place and rebuilds him using clockwork parts. When he has repaired him he has replaced left arm both legs part of his lung, yet still he is dying. That is when he sees a piece if metal shoved in his heart. His only chance is to replace his heart. To do this is treason if he succeeds and anyone finds out. The heart is one of a kind, made by his teacher. He takes the chance and does the surgery, and tells no one what he has done.
Johann wakes up and wonders were he is, knowing he was dying. When he figures out he is alive but changed he worries what was done to him and by who. As they begin to learn how to talk to each other, since they speak different languages trust is learned. Circumstances change and they must leave France, Johann swears to protect Conny but his best friend doesn’t trust him so Van decides to go with them. Conny is able to get a job anywhere because of ability as a tinker.
I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this story. Conny was a great character he was believable and loveable. Johann was harder to understand but as I read the story I came to understand him. He was quiet, shy and young. He had been abused by the system and was insecure. But he learned to depend on his fiends. Val comes across as shallow and frivolous but when the time comes he is just as strong and caring a friend as you could ask for.
All n all a really solid read that is both entertaining and a great love story!