Allen, Nancy Campbell. Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts. Salt Lake City: Shadow Mountain, 2020.
ISBN-13: 978-1629727370 | $15.99 USD | 320 pages | Steampunk Romance
A steampunk retelling of Cinderella.
Emmeline O’Shea has been an outspoken advocate for the shapeshifter community, which has come under unjust attack from a political body known as the PSRC (Predatory Shifter Regulations Committee), and her robust efforts have landed her a prestigious position as the spokesperson for the International Shifter Rights Organization. She has been selected to give the final address in Scotland before they vote on legislation that will grant protective rights to the shifter community. Because she is fundamentally changing the laws, she is also receiving death threats.
Oliver Reed is a by-the-book detective-inspector who has dealt with Emme’s borderline-illegal activism in the past, and there is little love lost between the two. When his superior tasks Oliver with guarding Emme around the clock to keep her safe until the summit is over, he is frustrated. He has several open cases requiring his attention, and his spare time is occupied with chasing down leads about the whereabouts of his brother, Vincent, a rogue vampire bent on causing trouble in Scotland.
When their airship is hijacked, Emme and Oliver are forced to parachute away before they exit British soil. They take refuge in Emme’s family’s hunting lodge where Oliver is introduced to her abusive stepsisters.
Together the pair must make their way to Edinburgh so as not to miss the summit meeting where Emme will be key in helping to pass legislation that will disband the corrupt PSRC. But between her vindictive sisters and Oliver’s rogue vampire brother, they face danger at every turn, not to mention dealing with their growing attraction for each other.
When Emme is kidnapped – leaving behind only one shoe as evidence – Oliver must find her before it’s too late – and the summit ends at midnight.
In the series
#1 Beauty and the Clockwork Beast
I received an ARC from the publisher through Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts is the fourth in Nancy Campbell Allen’s Steampunk series, but it works well as a stand-alone. I did, however, enjoy the other books in the series and their clever spins on fairy tales, and definitely recommend them for that aspect.
And that is one of the things that had me a bit perplexed going into this one. It’s definitely not a traditional Cinderella story, with many of the associated motifs only coming into play late in the game. That’s not a mark against it, as the books have gradually deviated further from the original tales that inspired them.
That said, the story is still fairly solid, and the characters engaging. I loved Emme’s involvement in the Shifter community, in part because it’s such a unique thing to read about a Shifter rights activist. I like how, in a way, that represented an additional connection between paranormal/steampunk and the Victorian setting, with the background of real life progressive movements, like the suffragettes, going on at the time.
And, as in real life and in some comparable historical romances, Oliver presents the more traditional, law-abiding opposition, but without being oppressive toward the heroine and her cause to the point that them being together or having feelings for each other feels unbelievable.
I really enjoyed this book, and recommend it to anyone who enjoys steampunk or paranormal romance with a slight fairytale feel.
Nancy Campbell Allen is the author of fourteen novels, including Beauty and the Clockwork Beast,Kiss of the Spindle, and The Lady in the Coppergate Tower. She has been a speaker at numerous writing conferences and events. She has a degree in elementary education and is the mother of three children.
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