A Clockwork Christmas is a really neat anthology of Christmas-themed steampunk romances from Carina Press. The individual novellas are not only available separately, but they each have their own absolutely gorgeous cover art. Since the big issue with anthologies is that you might like one story and another not so much, I feel compelled to review each one individually. And this way I get to show ALL the covers.
Stacy Gail’s Crime Wave in a Corset is the story that contains the most true steampunk elements. It’s also the one that stuck with me. Cornelia Peabody is a thief. A very, very excellent thief, in a Boston that is just different enough from the historic version that airships are commonplace and women learning engineering and technology, while rare, are far from unheard of. Cornelia never steals from people, only institutions. But she made one mistake. She stole a Faberge egg from Beth Coddington, thinking that it belonged to Rodney Coddington’s museum. The egg was the last light in Beth’s eyes, and without it, she lost her battle with a long-standing illness and died. Rodney Coddington trapped the beautiful thief in revenge for taking away his Beth’s egg, and gave Cornelia seven days to steal it back. A lot can happen in a week, especially the week before Christmas.
Escape Rating: A
This Winter Heart by PG Forte is a story about a Christmas miracle. Ophelia Leonides is not a real woman. Her father made her out of mechanical parts with human skin and a steel skeleton. The woman her father had loved and lost contributed to her genetic makeup. When her father revealed the secret of her origins to her husband, Dario threw them out of his house, and out of his life. Eight years later, Ophelia returns to Santa Fe, bringing with her the news of her father’s death, and the one thing that her husband never believed possible–their seven-year-old and very much human son. Can Dario find his love for her again? Can he believe in this miracle?
Escape Rating: B
Jenny Schwartz’ story of the early days of the development of the Australian republic reminded me of Colleen McCullough’s The Ladies of Missalonghi because of its setting and its take charge heroine. Wanted: One Scoundrel is a fun story about a woman who is the beloved queen of her small community, and thinks she is looking for someone to take her orders, but instead, finds someone to be her match. The subplot involving Australian political shenigans helped the love story along nicely.
Escape Rating: A
Far From Broken by JK Coi was the story with the most loose ends. A spy for the War Office comes home to find that his ballerina wife has been brutally tortured. The only way to save her life is to allow that same office to replace her missing legs, arm and eye with clockwork replacements. She is so traumatized by the torture she endured, the surgery, the pain, and the changes in her life, that she turns everyone away, especially her husband. While she endures all the necessary surgery, he hunts down her torturers. When he returns to the hospital to rejoin her, they face one last battle against the “inside man” who nearly killed her, and to save their marriage.
Escape Rating B: This story left too many loose ends. What was the war about? Who is fighting who? And why? Also, it could easily have been cyberpunk instead of steampunk.
I want to applaud Carina Press for this concept. They also released two other Christmas anthologies like this, Holiday Kisses and Men Under the Mistletoe. I reviewed Holiday Kisses for Library Journal, and I’m highly tempted to get Men under the Mistletoe just to complete the set.