Sam MacInnes is a talented surgeon who runs in the highest social circles thanks to his family’s position and history. When Sam hires Hazel to assist him with his medical practice, he is immediately drawn to her intelligence, wit, and beauty.
Their potential relationship is derailed one evening when a mysterious count arrives in London and reveals to Hazel the truth about her past: she was abducted at birth and her twin sister has fallen dangerously ill.
Hazel agrees to travel to Romania with Count Petrescu in order to save her sister, and Sam insists on accompanying her. The count has secrets, though, and the journey grows more sinister with every mile that draws Hazel closer to her homeland. Even as her feelings for Sam become deeper and more complicated, she fears she might not survive the quest to save her sister with her heart intact, not to mention her life. She must learn to draw on gifts she doesn’t know she has if they are going to ever return home again.
Hazel and Sam must fight their way past dark magic, clockwork beasts, and their own insecurities as they try to reach her sister in the impenetrable Coppergate Tower before time runs out.
Comment: This is the third book in the Steampunk Romance series by this author, with a cast of characters somehow connected and where the stories are adaptations of fairy tales into the steampunk sub genre.
I think I liked this one slightly more than the previous novels. The romance has the same formula, two people in close contact changing their feelings, and all is mostly alluded to instead of visible on the page, but since this is given for the series, it didn't bother me. In fact, it felt as if the author stressed out their growing attraction more often, but rest assured nothing physical beyond kissing happens and, overall, the structure of the novel doesn't really require that.
The plot is very simple, Hazel talks to the woman she has always known as her mother, she understands something weird happened when she was adopted, but she has had a good life, even though her social status isn't one of nobility - which is going to change now - so she has been aware of her limitations but thankful for her friends and the privileges, and she knows she and her mother haven't been too bad. She also knows dr Sam is out of reach because although he works, his family is wealthy, but that doesn't stop her from thinking about it.
Now, a sudden new possibility opens up her world and she finds out she is from a noble family but the medical situation of her twin Marit is dire and for her own safety, she is guarded in a tower (the Rapunzel fairy tale, more or less) but Hazel isn't certain if she has to go to help or to save her... Hazel has had dreams which she now realizes are ways to understand her sister and everything is so confusing... plus she and Sam agree the count is hiding something about this whole situation...
They agree to go with the count and, to me, this was the best element in the whole story: how do they travel from England to Romania? No carriage and no steampunk related dirigibles... oh no, they all travel in a submarine! I thought to myself, what fun this was and I don't remember being as dazzled by a submarine journey in fiction since Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea or, more loosely, Abduction by Robin Cook, so I was fascinated by all the submarine related scenes and conversations and how it felt like a real house inside.
The time they spend inside the submarine allows them do become more worried because some things happen which are difficult to explain, such as what happens to Hazel's maid. There is also the issue of the way the count observes Hazel and when she helps Sam once or twice, in healing someone. I thought this whole things offered an interesting vibe of mystery and that something wasn't quite right... I think the real motivations of the count aren't that hard to guess but, of course, only when they arrive in Romania and try to help Hazel's sister Marit do they discover what the secret was.
Every paranormal or steampunk detail was well thought... I think the world building is as satisfying here and it has been in the previous novels, which means the author had a definitive overall plan for them all and then got the rest more defined as the stories developed. There are so many things that might seem secondary and could have been easily overlooked but to me they added zest to the story, such as the way the submarine worked or how it has a library where Hazel looks for clues...
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