“Clockwork Heart” is a fascinating m/m steampunk romance story that features a brilliant man who follows his instincts and his heart, and doesn’t let his father’s evil machinations determine his choices. One should be warned that there are fairly violent and graphic elements but there are also some amazingly vivid flights of the imagination that explore how mechanics can be combined with biology. I love the journey that takes two men from different cultures, politically and socially, moving from being ostensible foes to inseparable bulwarks for one another. The crew of the ship, which is virtually a character in itself, the allies gained, and the struggle against evil, are all so realistically depicted that I felt like I was involved in an action-adventure film where the action ramps upward until the final climax that made me want to cheer for the heroes.
I was very impressed with the combination of sensuality and imagination presented in this story. The intimate scenes get a little kinky at times and almost distract from the overall struggle but I like the genuine emotion that links the two main characters, and the creativity that goes into describing the remarkable inventions provides a tale that demonstrates what I like best about steampunk stories—an alternate history with remarkable world-changing inventions created by idealistic and visionary geniuses. There are plenty of characters in this story who deserve a turn in the spotlight, so I hope there are many more stories set in this universe percolating in the author’s imagination!
Heidi Cullinan’s story, “Clockwork Heart”, follows Cornelius (Conny) Stevens, a remarkable inventor who has been mentored by the best tinker in France. A radical decision to rescue a dying soldier from the opposing side of the war leads to a world-changing operation and an inescapable bond to the soldier, Johann Berger. Together, they face almost insurmountable challenges but discover that neither war nor vicious despots nor distance can disrupt the connection and mutual dependence they have for one another—although the clockwork heart may turn out to have some limitations that will need a tinker to fix!
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.