Samuel Hawkins, Sergeant in the King’s Sentry, has been called in to investigate a murder case. As he awaits the Archivists to arrive—the team who will use a special device to extract the memories of the dead man to help find clues to his murder—he never expects to come face to face with the woman he’d left behind when he’d fled the Archives five years earlier.
Piper Smith has grown from the girl Samuel remembered into a strong woman and full-fledged archivist. Shadowed by her mentor, Master Ryerson, Piper will be performing her first extraction. When she sees Samuel, she must push aside her childhood crush, else risk her standing within the Guild.
As the two begin working together to find the killer, Samuel and Piper explore their intense attraction to each other. But “Jack the Ripper” proves to be harder to catch than the two originally thought. What’s worse, they discover he may very well work for the Archives. Now, Samuel and Piper must battle internal and external threats as they try to foil a plot against the Crown and stop Jack the Ripper from taking his next victim.
Prior to Christine D’Abo’s Gilded Hearts, my experience with the steam punk genre was hit or miss at best. To say my experience is moving in a far better direction doesn’t really even come close. Gilded Hearts has converted me completely and I am now 100% a steam punk fan 🙂
Gilded Hearts is a totally weird mix of all kinds of things near and dear to my heart so here’s the skinny on why this book rocked:
The Plot: New London is being plagued by a serial killer and it just happens to be a new and improved version of Jack the Ripper. More vicious, more diabolical, more evil than his namesake, Jack is terrorizing the town and laying waste to prostitutes and only the King’s Sentry and the Archivists’ Guild can stand against him. While it may seem like there is strength in numbers, the King’s Sentry and the Archivists’ Guild do not have a good relationship and working together is nigh on impossible.
The main characters:
Piper Smith is a strong and capable woman who is also a fully trained Archivist. Her job is to collect the memories of the dead and her first solo assignment is to take the memories of the first prostitute killed by Jack. The process is torturous but it is the only way to help track the killer and Piper is determined to do her job well. Though she is undaunted by her task, her confidence is severely shaken when, at the crime scene, she comes face-to-face with the one and only man who has every held her heart.
Sergeant Samuel Hawkins was meant to be an Archivist but after years of abuse and the loss of his dear friend, Sam left the Guild like a thief in the night. Though he has never regretted the decision to leave, he does regret having to live his life without his Piper. Leaving Piper was the hardest thing Sam has ever done but leaving the Guild meant he would survive and with survival comes hope. Sam is strong and smart and his job as a member of the King’s Sentry is both challenging and rewarding but this new case is going to take every ounce of awesome he has to solve. Oh, and all that awesome is going to have to come out in front of Piper.
Constable Rory Timmons is one scary dude!! His loyalty to Sam is absolute and though we don’t learn a lot about him in this read, he is intriguing and sure to have a place in future reads.
David: the totally weird, ridiculously genius brother of Rory Timmons. David is completely insane and likes to experiment with pretty much anything and everything he can get his hands on. Luckily, he has Rory and their “maid” Aiko. Luckily, Sam and Piper have David because without him, both of them would have died.
The Setting: New London is mess and all but toxic following a nasty war – of course, the French were involved. The streets are filled with the unfortunate, crooks and thieves and, those just trying to make a living in a hard, hard world. The city runs on steam which is constantly pumped into the atmosphere, the environment is all but hazardous and, the machinery that runs the world is constantly on display. The descriptions of New London are interesting but it is the descriptions of the Archivists’ Guild that are fascinating. The parts and pieces of the machinery as well as the general environment are so clearly and wonderfully described by D’Abo.
The Bottom Line: Kudos to Christine D’Abo for converting me to the steam punk genre!! I am really stubborn so the conversion is all the more significant 🙂 I soaked up every detail of this book and found that there is not a single strength in this book but a multitude of strengths that all come together to create something really very cool. The descriptions of the city and the Archivists’ Guild, the completely engrossing characters and a plot that took a multitude of wonderful turns had me totally swept away. Make no mistake, this isn’t a light and fluffy read but a steam punk re-telling of Jack the Ripper and his reign of terror. It is dark and gory with some light romance and naughty bits mixed in for funsies. Start to finish this is a fine read and yes, I have already bought the second book in the series 🙂