Rhys does steampunk…And she does it well. It is hard to believe Rhys Ford hadn’t dabbled in this genre yet. Her mind is so creative and her writing so vivid. Her style just seems like a match made in heaven for this genre. In this story she takes us to her beloved Bay Area. San Francisco, actually, St. Francisco. We go to the city when it was part of the British Commonwealth. She takes us right into the thick of things, Little Orient, where our heroes have their fateful meeting. From the get go we are taken into a delightful adventure, with a good dose of political intrigue, very engaging characters (fiesty Dowager included!) and a vivid setting. Marcus Stenhill, the Viscount of Westwood, happens upon a man receiving a terrible beating while on an errand in Little Orient. Marcus being a man who won’t sit idly while a gang of four, beat on a single man when he is down, comes to the fellow’s rescue. The man Marcus rescues should be his foe, a mortal enemy. Even though they have never faced each other their histories are bound in a sinister way. Robin Harris had a part in Marcus’ father murder, indirect, but a part nonetheless. He should hate him, but instead is flumoxed by his desire for the man. Things won’t be easy…Not only are his unnatural desires criminal in the commonwealth, but Robin himself is a marked man. Pursuing anything with him may be too much folly, even for someone with Marcus’ influence and wealth.
For the men of Clockwork Tangerine I chose a lovely Spanish Tempranillo, which if not a super popular wine in most of the British Empire, certainly a common one to find in territory so close to the Spanish Empire’s holding a bit to the South. The 2011 Dacu Tempranillo from the Ribera del Guadiana in Spain, is an absolute WINNER. It is very earthy and smooth with a distinct flavoring that will appeal to Zinfandel lovers. At about $10.00, you cannot go wrong with this bottle.
Now back to the story…Once Marcus takes on rescuing Robin, he goes all the way. He takes Robin back to his house, and does not leave his side until he is recovered. From the moment Marcus steps into Robin’s home he can see that the inventions which were taken and bastardized by the Society to bring down the Empire were not the last Robin’s mind had to give. There are all kinds of magical contraptions all over the house. Harris has apparently successfully developed prosthetics that are aiding people to walk and see. Marcus is enthralled. By the time Robin comes around a few weeks later after the beating, Marcus is a mainstay in his life.
Robin is taken aback by the kindness, by the presence of the man. Of all people, Marcus should loathe him, yet he gives him nothing but gentleness. There is also the issue of the man’s beauty. Robin can barely take being close to him without working himself up to complete discombobulation. Robin just does not understand what the man could be after…Maybe he feels the same, there have been hints here and there…But, but…No it can’t be, there is no way possible that someone as tainted as he could end up with a man like Marcus in his bed and a life of happiness. Robin can have his doubts, but Marcus will show Robin to never underestimate a man who knows EXACTLY his worth, his position and his heart, and what he is willing to do for those he loves.
For the length of this novella, all in all, we get quite the story. Not only did we get a very strong sense of the place and world, but we got to know both men and their individual stories pretty well. The world was solidly set as well, we got a good understanding of how the society works, and the foes who have and could threaten their world. I would love to see a sequel for this book where Robin and Marcus united to defend their beloved British Empire. There is a lot to love about the world Rhys created, but at the nucleus it is a strong love story. Marcus saves Robin from a life of isolation and guilt, and together the life they will build will make them both whole.
Lovely story. Totally recommend. Stop by tomorrow to read more about Clockwork Tangerine and Robin’s inventions. The lovely Ms. Ford wrote a bit about Robin’s machines and their relevance to her story!
Clockwork Tangerine will be released tomorrow from Dreamspinner Press.
Cheers and Happy Reading!