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Review: A Clockwork Christmas

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A Clockwork Christmas
Author: See Below
Release Date: Dec. 5, 2011
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Steampunk, Anthology
Format(s): e-book
Book Source: NetGalley
About the book:
Changed forever after tragedy, a woman must draw strength from her husband’s love. A man learns that love isn’t always what you expect. A thief steals the heart of a vengeful professor. And an American inventor finds love Down Under. Enjoy Victorian Christmas with a clockwork twist in these four steampunk novellas.
What VampBards talking about:

Crime Wave in a Corset by Stacy Gail
Summary: 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’ 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.
Review: Cornelia Peabody, the independent heroine of our story, has quite the history. Coming from a heritage of opportunists, Cornelia has carved a niche for herself, albeit illegal. She leads a low-profile lifestyle in order to evade suspicion. However, when we catch a glimpse into who the REAL Cornelia is, we learn that she’s brilliant and enjoys surrounding herself with items that challenge her mind and infuse beauty into her life. She also prides herself on ensuring safety by utilizing her mind to rig elaborate systems of warning to alert her of intruders to her abode. Caught off-guard by Roderick Coddington, Cornelia finds herself releasing control to a man that is conflicted about his feelings for her…for awhile.
Roderick Coddington, a college professor, takes the law into his own hands when he tracks down the thief that stole more than a trinket from him and his family. With such feelings, it is difficult for Roderick to process his true feelings for Cornelia. After all, there IS a fine line between love and hate. We are led through week in which Roderick pressured Cornelia to retrieve the trinket she stole from his family, while threatening her life. Although it is not difficult to see, we watch the burgeoning love between the two, as well as the internal conflicts presented for both characters as they wrestle with what their heart feels and what their logic dictates.
I really enjoyed the way the author presented these characters, and how she created a wonderful Steampunk environment within which her story took place. Enough detail was present for me to get wonderful images of the settings and actions taking place. I also felt the author tied together technology and the Victorian era quite effectively. As this was my first venture into the Steampunk genre, I didn’t really know what to expect. I feel that Ms. Gail has set a high bar for future Steampunk authors to hurdle.
Rating: 4 stars Enjoyed – strongly recommend (A-)
This Winter Heart by PG Forte
Summary: Eight years ago, Ophelia Loenides’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…
Review: Loved this story! I would, however, like to see how the story plays out. Definitely thought there was enough material for a novel instead of just a novella! I really liked Ophelia. She is a spunky woman, and is 100% momma-bear. There could have been more done with her, and the story could have been developed into a novel.
Dario… Picture Antonio Banderas on a horse (ala Zorro), and this is the image I get for Dario. Jus’ Sayin’. I liked the way Dario’s thinking shifted throughout the course of the story. I eneded up LOVING the way he expressed his love for Ophelia. Also dug the way he spent time with his son.
Over-all, I think this was a sweet little Steampunk story, full of technology and things not deemed possible ‘back in the day’. The infusion of standard Steampunk schools-of-thought was kind-of nice. Nothing new and twisted or convoluted. Only hesitation with this novella: Seriously. Make it longer. There’s enough material. 😉
Rating: 4 stars Enjoyed – strongly recommend (A-)
Wanted: One Scoundrel by Jenny Schwartz
Summary: 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…
Review: I really REALLY liked this one! Ms. Schwartz totally surprised me at the end of this novella! Suspense and the slow-burn romance without all the bow-chica-wow-wow. Great historical references, too.
Esme, our heroine, is the rock-on, hard-core girl that believes in equality for all. S’all good. She definitely has earned the right to require independence at any given point in her life. Making it legal would be all that much better! Far from the traditional lady of the ’20’s, Esme has a strong conviction to bring equality to all those in Australia.
Jed, our swarthy hero, does all the right things. Says all the right stuff. Esme thinks he playing her, or he’s hiding something. Creative, and thinks-on-his-feet, Jed definitely has something to offer a young lady of marrying age.
When things become complicated through thievery and trickery (not by Jed!), Esme finds out who really cares about her, and who she can trust. Creative minds, ah, they can be dangerous.
Rating: 4.5 stars Loved it – enthusiastically recommend (A)
Far From Broken by JK Coi
Summary: Soldier. Spymaster. Husband… Colonel Jasper Carlisle was defined by his work until he met 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 her life, as his enemy once again attempts to tear them apart.
Review: Out of the four novellas in A Clockwork Christmas, I believe that Far from Broken was the most ‘Steampunkish’. I also felt that it was ‘hotter’ than the others. The conflict leading up to the ultimate resolution (yes, there’s a HEA…) really tore at me, and I was compelled to finish the story. Eh. Sleep is highly over-rated. 😉
Callie, ballet dancer, is very disciplined and believes that she isn’t worthy of Jasper’s love after the horrible kidnapping and torture she endured. What she feels even more strongly about is the mechanical trappings that make her able to function independently. This is the one thing that prevented me from giving this story 5 stars: Sure, pity party for the situation… but dang, Callie…you’re the Bionic Woman now. You’re stronger, faster…able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. The mechanical stuff doesn’t make you less, Girl. It makes you MORE. OK. Dealing with that might take a minute in the story, but the whole woe-is-me thing, I’m not diggin’. Sure. She can be ticked off at Jasper for what happened, and he SHOULD have to work his way back into her life. That’s OK. But the rest? I’m not feelin’ it.
Jasper, our hero and member of the militia. Although, I don’t know who is the bigger hero in this story, Jasper or Callie. Jasper avenges his wife’s torture. He wakes up the dormant part of her that feels emotions. He tries to protect her. Has a great finale at the end of the story. I believe Jasper handled all the situations in the story in the perfect manner. He COULD have been stubborn and harsh with Callie, demanding their reunion, but he went for the soft-sell. The only way to go with a strong female. Besides, earning his way back into her life – the trust factor- was something that should have been explored a bit more, in my opinion.
I really, really liked this novella! Excellent job, Ms. Coi! I felt as though I experienced the time in history, as well as the plot. Fast paced, with several peaks & valleys for a novella. Don’t expect to put it down.
Rating: 4.5 stars Loved it – enthusiastically recommend (A)


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A Clockwork Christmas

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