Review Courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales
Quick & Dirty: A fascinating steampunk spy novel complete with a heartwarming reunion.
Opening Sentence: "You shouldn't go in there, ma'am. `Tis no place for a lady."
You know, as I have stated before, I am still fairly new to the genre of steampunk as a whole, and so apparently is my spell check. But the more I read of it, the more I like it. And the costumes look so fun!
In the city of London in the Age of Steam (so says page one) there resides a group of men and woman, loyal to the crown, a secret spy type agency known as the Wardens of the Realm. These brave souls are doctors, inventors, noblemen and women, risking themselves to rid England of certain evils, namely the organization calling itself The Company.
The heroine of this first novel has paid a handsome price in this war on evil, she has lost her husband. Seven years ago her husband, a W.O.R. officer, left her to go on a classified assignment in Paris, and never returned. Most people, including his own brother and best friend, feel he is most likely dead. His brother has even gone to the point of starting the proceedings to have him declared dead. Not believing what she cannot see with her own eyes, Arden Grey, Lady Huntley to her peers, has remained ever faithful and vigilant, knowing in her heart that her husband is not dead.
On the night of an investigation into the grisly murder of a debutante, she fancies she glimpses a man on the roof of a building. The murderer perhaps, but for one startling characteristic. The man is wearing the face of Arden's lost husband Lucas. When, later that night she is attacked in her own bed by that same man, and he does indeed have her beloved's face, her life has been dramatically altered once again, and not all of it for the better. Her husband has returned to London, but now wants her dead??
The man called only Number Five is on a mission to enact revenge on an enemy agent for the murder of one of his colleagues. But, upon entering the bedchamber of his target, he finds himself oddly attracted to the woman, and even more oddly reluctant to carry out his orders. And when the woman wakes and calls him by a name he cannot recognize, but seems surprisingly familiar, he begins to question himself, and his life, and the job he is sworn to do. Why does he seem to remember this woman, and what did she once mean to him?
When the questions and memories become too much, Five returns to Arden's house looking for answers. Her words and the picture on the mantle paint an obvious picture. He was once her husband, and this was once his home. While there he is, well attacked isn't quite the right word but I can't seem to find it in my brain right now, maybe physically threatened by his bosses. Arden uses a machine to immobilize Five and keep The Company out of his head (literally) so he can live long enough to be turned in to the W.O.R. for rehabilitation, and be restored as her husband. Alas, the damage done by The Company is too much for Five/Lucas to completely overcome and he still remains mostly clueless on his past and years with Arden.
Through the book the pair must dodge a few attempts by The Company to take them out of the equation, and Arden has another debutante murder on her hands as well. After yet another unsuccessful attempt at Arden's life, they uncover a murderous scheme plotted by members of The Company involving a party on an airship and an explosion meant to turn it into the Hindenburg. Lucas and Arden, along with others from the W.O.R. find their way onboard and manage to thwart the plans to take it down, and Arden manages to find her killer as well. All in a day's work, piece of cake and all that jazz..
This first book in the series is sure to make most people want to come back to read the next one, especially with that tiny bit of a cliffhanger at the end of the excerpt from the second installment, Heart of Steel.
Though this is my first book by this particular author, she has written several other novels under a different pen name, I have no doubts that it will not be my last.
The Clockwork Agents Series:
1. Heart of Brass
2. Touch of Steel
FTC Advisory: Penguin/Signet provided me with a copy of Heart of Brass. No goody bags, sponsorships, "material connections," or bribes were exchanged for my review.