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March 4, 2012

ARC Heart of Perdition

On sale March 5, 2012
From Goodreads:

As the nineteenth century draws to a close, James Weston, Earl of Falmouth, is dying along with it. Despite living in an age of airships and automatons, even London's finest physicians cannot cure the young man's ailing heart. His last hope lies in retrieving a powerful artifact from the remote island home of an eccentric scientist's daughter.

Elspeth Shaw prefers her solitary life to the tragic results that come from mixing in society. Elspeth is cursed: every mortal being who forms an attachment to her dies a horrible death. Yet when the doomed Lord Falmouth arrives in search of the very artifact that blights her, she hasn't the will to refuse. But the price for cheating death may be more than any human can pay.


Looking at the synopsis, this seemed like a Steampunk romance novel with its mention of airships and automatons. But as the novella moved forward it merely provides the background for the story and it's nothing like Infernal Devices or Steampunk Chronicles where Steampunk was at its core.

Let me start with the cursed Elspeth Shaw:
Do what you can to avoid my daughter. Spend as few moments in her presence as possible. Do not ovserve her too closely, nor converse with her at length. She''l be the death of you otherwise. 
Elspeth is rich like Midas but cursed as the mythical King. She was exiled on the island of St. Kilda to avoid the curse which results to people dying a horrible death when they start caring for her. So she stays in obscurity in the island and employs people who dislike her to protect them from her curse.

James Weston, the Earl of Falmouth, is what you'd expect an Earl to be. Handsome, rich, intelligent but unfortunately he is dying of a heart disease which brought him to St. Kilda because Elspeth's father left him a device, a pace-keeper, that will cure him of his disease.

So they meet and felt deeply for each other. However I didn't feel the stirrings of excited heartbeats and the romantic gushing of their courtship. The air of doom swirling over their heads because of Elspeth's curse should have made their forbidden love more exciting but it just fell flat. The story didn't get me to that point where I empathized with the characters and was swooning over them. I feel like the story was missing minute details that would have provided more depth to the story even if it's novella length.

What I liked though is the feel of authenticity of the era it hopes to portray. Corsets, formal English,  a close observation of class and etiquette and everything Victorian in 1899. I know that if we get more of James Weston that I'll absolutely love the guy and Elspeth's situation is ripe for adventure and some serious romance. The attempt on Steampunk needs more emphasis and originality to make the setting more vivid and convincing of an alternative Victorian England.

I hope that after this warm up, the second novella will be more polished because I'd like to see how James and Elspeth will find a way around the curse.

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