4.5 stars - I REALLY enjoyed this, just a bit light on the world-building for me to give 5 stars, but a definite favourite. Just by chance I saw a review in my recent updates on this book and thought I would take a look. I was looking for the next thing to read and it happened to be available to borrow on the kindle lending library so I thought I would give it a go.
Well I am very glad that I did - and I would have been just as pleased even if I had paid for it. It has an interesting storyline, with a setting that is mainly steampunk but with PNR mixed in too. It's quite a unique premise and it was very enjoyable. I found the characters immediately likable and interesting, the story engrossing and the secondary characters also great - in fact I hope we learn more about each of them in future stories in the series. It was also well-paced and didn't want to put it down.
This has a bit of everything that makes a good book in my perception - romance, murder-mystery, humour, adventure and even a happy ever after.
My main criticism would probably be that I think I would have liked to have a little more in the way of world-building and the history behind the scientific elements, but then I wonder if that is left to be told in future stories as part of the other characters' history perhaps? There was no info-dumping, which was great, and we learn history and current events as we go. I think you learn enough for everything to make sense, but it would have been cool to understand more about the different scientific inventions. I think instead Foxe focuses on her characters more heavily, which is definitely a good thing as they are created very nicely, but I hope to learn more about the world in future stories in this series.
I thought the hero and heroine were very well-done - our heroine is at once vulnerable and fragile, but strong and feisty of spirit. I loved her strange quirks, such as the gambling and secret writing of the Chronicles. I also didn't feel she turned into a complete sap at any point and stayed strong throughout.
The hero was to some extent the typical strong, dark, brooding hero with a tortured past, but although he thought certain things made him a monster and made him hate himself, he actually wasn't all woes-me like some heroes can be, which gets irritating. I also enjoyed the interplay and teasing/bantering between our H/H and the dry sense of humour. He is also not afraid of openly showing his true feelings when the time comes.
The romance was nicely done I felt, as our hero and heroine have known each other for some time, but have not realised their feelings until certain events unfold, so it gives them more of a connection and adds to the realism of their relationship, rather than the insta-love that I get rather tired of reading about in other books. It also seemed that the discussions between them about love seemed more touching and real because of this - you really FELT the emotions with them as they experienced them.
Oh and the sex scenes, very well done I thought, especially if you like romance/sex with the benefit of the relationship behind it rather than just from lust alone - really great build up between them and definitely HOT when it came to it!
Although some elements of the plot were kind of predictable, there was still a bit of mystery around what exactly was happening and the motivations behind the villain and a few surprises along the way. The overall story was very satisfying.
We even had a happy-ending that wasn't too sappy thankfully (although I like romance, I am not really into sap, so this worked well for me). If this is Foxe's debut novel I am really looking forward to more from her and this series.