Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen. Steampunk, paperback, 318 pages, published August 2, 2016 by Shadow Mountain. ISBN: 1629721751
When Lucy Pickett arrives at Blackwell Manor to tend to her ailing cousin, Kate, she finds more than she bargained for. A restless ghost roams the hallways, werewolves have been reported in the area, and vampires lurk across the Scottish border. Lord Miles himself is clearly hiding a secret. He is brash and inhospitable, and does not take kindly to visitors—even one as smart and attractive as Miss Pickett. He is unsettled by the mysterious deaths of his new wife, Clara, and his sister, Marie. Working together, Miles and Lucy attempt to restore peace to Blackwell Manor. But can Lucy solve the mystery of Miles? Can she love the man—beast and all?
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Historically, I have been a big fan of steampunk imagery and costuming but haven’t been the biggest fan of the literature. With that being said, I’m generally willing to take a chance on a book and an author and this time, the risk paid off.
Beauty and the Clockwork Beast has two lead characters that are wrapped in such wonderful imagery and a creepy plot that I had no choice but to dive in and not come up for air until I was done. Between Lucy and Miles, I was hooked and here’s why:
Lucy: Ooooooh, I liked Lucy quite a lot from the very beginning. Though society demands she be prim and proper, Lucy doesn’t stand much on tradition and often makes her own way. She is educated, highly intelligent, intuitive, determined, caring, and loyal to a fault. When her ailing cousin and new mistress of Blackwell Manor calls her in order to help solve the mystery of her failing health, Lucy is on the first airship. Within just a few days, Lucy not only discovers there is a serious issue with her cousin but there are more mysteries just beneath the surface of Blackwell Manor’s façade. With her inquisitive nature, Lucy dives right into her investigation and begins asking tough questions.
Miles: From the minute he makes his appearance, Miles lives up to his reputation of the surly, standoffish, and downright scary lord of the manor. Miles knows what his reputation is and has done nothing to try and change the perception people have of him. In fact, as far as Miles is concerned, the further people stay away from him, the safer they will be. Though he’s fairly certain he didn’t kill his sister and/or his wife, his condition, which only a select few know about, would have enabled him to do so. Keeping that dirty little secret is of the utmost importance and he is on track to continue to do so until Lucy walks into his life. With her understated beauty and quick mind, Miles is certainly intrigued and since she refuses to leave until she solves every single mystery she’s uncovered, he’s going to have to come out of his shell and help her just so he can be close enough to her to keep her safe.
The Bottom Line: Beauty and the Clockwork Beast has everything but the kitchen sink and yet it still manages to work. Seriously, there is a bit of everything in here including some awesome steampunk environments, gadgets, and costumes, more than a few paranormal creatures, a crazy fun plot with just the right amount of creepy, and a heroine who is totally equipped to stand up to a surly and contrary man who makes her heart beat fast and furious. The dynamic between Lucy and Miles changes as the story progress and they get to know one another better. There is a true evolution in the characters as the plot unfolds which leads to a very satisfying ending.