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.
This story was amazing! I loved Cornelius and Johann, along with Val and the crew of The Brass Farthing. The characters just come alive on the page. You get so invested in their lives you can’t help but be pulled into the story and enjoy every moment of it. The story was rich and so full of details. The way Mrs. Cullinan describes the clockwork and how they work, you’d think she’s a tinkerer herself. You are immersed in this new place with a new culture. It may look and feel similar to events and places we know. However it’s different enough you can’t help but be excited.
My favorite line in the book is something that’s sums up the characters’ feelings on what’s going on in the story. Plus it’s pretty apropos for the real world as well. “I hate that we waste so much money and so many lives in war.” The scene at Mateus’ house is so freaking sensual. Plus the voyeur and exhibition part is drop dead sexy. I loved this scene. But I was on pins and needles waiting for Johann’s answer to Conny’s question in regards to the princess’ suggestion. (Yup, convoluted description but read the book and you’ll definitely know which part I’m talking about!) I was sitting there reading it and I’m saying to myself “Forget the damn tacos! Let them burn! WHAT DOES HE SAY?!” Once I finished that scene I was a little bit in shock and a little in awe of how they both responded to that.
I fell in love with Conny and Johann quickly. I wanted them together from the moment Johann wakes up. Their love is so beautiful to watch. They complement each other so well. All Conny wants is to be the center of Johann’s world. All Johann wants is to make Cornelius happy. Plus Cornelius is so sweet because he just wants to help those around him and do the right thing. Seeing these two together is amazing. The support they receive from Val is slow coming but he becomes an amazing ally. The crew of The Brass Farthing are a quirky bunch. However they have such personality. My favorite is Crowley. He is the perfect captain, taking care of his entire crew and ensuring no one is left behind. I desperately hope a sequel is coming in the near future. I would love to read more in this world with these characters.
Four and a half
Johann closed his hand over Cornelius’s. “I am safe. I swear on my mother’s name. Bertha.” He ran a finger down Cornelius’s cheek. “She would like you.”
Without meaning to, Cornelius leaned into that finger, and all the yearning he’d been holding back rushed in with a vengeance. Johann’s gaze darkened, and the finger tracing Cornelius’s face became a hand cradling his cheek.
“Now I will ask you a question,” Johann said, his voice rough.
Cornelius swallowed, unable to stop staring at Johann’s stubble-surrounded lips. “Y-yes?”
“You keep telling Valentin and Félix we are lovers. You kiss me, but only in front of others. You tell me we’re pretending.” His thumb brushed Cornelius’s chin. “Are we…pretending?”
There was no saliva left in Cornelius’s mouth. “I…didn’t think you…took men. As…lovers.”
Johann’s gaze didn’t waver. “I haven’t had any lovers. And no men have ever kissed me before.”
“And…now that…one has?” He could barely get the words out of his mouth. Each one felt like sending life out of his lungs. Please do not reject me. Not you, Johann, not now. “What…what do you think of the…notion?”
He didn’t smile, but his eyes danced like a devil’s. “I don’t know. I haven’t had a kiss that wasn’t pretend.”
Cornelius’s exhale was an anguished sigh. “Johann, please—”
And then he could say no more, because Johann’s lips were on his.
Cornelius started to lean in, open his lips, then paused, still too nervous. It was an almost timid kiss. What if Johann were teasing? What—?
Johann’s lips parted, his breath tingling Cornelius’s mouth. This time Conny’s sigh was surrender, and he opened too, taking Johann inside.
Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, playing with her cats, and watching television with her family.
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