Clockwork Samurai by Jeannie Lin #Review

Clockwork Samurai by Jeannie Lin #ReviewClockwork Samurai by Jeannie Lin

Series: #2 Gunpowder Chronicles
Genres: Steampunk Romance
Published by Intermix on December 1, 2015
Pages: 211
Format: eARC
Source: Author
    add to goodreads
four-stars      one-flame

I fell in love with Jeannie Lin’s Gunpowder Chronicles Asian Steampunk World with the first story in this series and was eager to take up the next segment of Soling and Chen-wei’s adventures. I go to this author when I want a historical romance that is in touch with the time period, the characters are colorful as well as deep, and the weaving of the story is complex and riveting. The creative inclusion of steampunk in this latest series just added to the delight.

This is book two and as the series title suggests, these are chronicles that should be read in order to gain the whole feel of the story. Even having read the first one, it took me a little bit to re-immerse myself in the story.

It has been a year since the adventures that Soling and Chen-wei shared as they fought off the rebels, hunted for the source of the tainted opium, and began clearing the family name. Now, Jin Soling is a physician in the Forbidden City to the Emperor’s Concubines. Her father’s name has been cleared, but people have long memories. Her mother is shaky, but seems clear of the opium habit and her younger brother is doing well in school. Soling is content because she can help her family and is doing work in her area of study, but there is a restlessness, too. She wants to be doing more. And what of the connection she shared with Chen-wei? He is an engineer for the ministry and has little time for her.

But then a summons comes from the emperor. Soling is needed to cure his headache. This summons puts her in the spotlight before the council and around the court. Soling isn’t pleased and she suspects the emperor is toying with her.

At the same time, she learns that Chen Wei is planning a journey to Japan in hopes of securing a cooperation with that government against the encroaching Europeans who ply the opium and are taking over China’s coast. The council is not behind Chen Wei’s plan, but surprisingly allow him to go. And more surprisingly, Soling is allowed to go with him.

Chen-wei is being enigmatic and not sharing all he knows, but he does explain to Soling that at one time her father had contact with a scientist in Japan and now Chen-wei hopes to encounter him to help smooth the way for an audience with the government. Japan is a very suspicious, insular nation and doesn’t allow foreigners beyond the sectioned walls of the port trade city of Nagasaki. They squash any attempt to bring in foreign ways and thinking. There is grave danger that stalks them now on their quest and Soling can’t be entirely sure of Chen-wei’s motives. But her heart trusts him and is glad to be with him. Is there a chance of a future together in a world at war?

The first book did most of the set up for the series and this one jumped right in, but it was fun that the focus shifted off 19th Century China to Japan and the Shogunate. I was impressed with how the plot was never compromised for historic details, but yet the details were there to appreciate and enjoy. The steampunk aspect fit so naturally into the story. I loved the magic of the clockwork karakuri. By the way, as a side trail, I was glad to be able to read the short steampunk fairytale, The Warlord and the Nightingale, that was set in the same world as this current story. It helped me appreciate the setting and circumstances of this story more.

The plot is still moving along their fight to push out the foreign invaders of China, discover what is behind the tainted opium that is looking more and more like a conspiracy, and now investigate Soling’s father’s mysterious past which may help them with vital inventions and allies in the present conflict. The pacing was even and took it’s time until about half-way when danger strikes and things took off leaving me breathless with excitement. There were twists, surprises, and surprising new players in the story.

Jin Soling has been through so much in her life. She is high-born, but has lived as a commoner on the edge of poverty. She has had to live by her wits and determination, but she has a healer’s heart that keeps her unhardened and jaded. She is skeptical, but also trusting. A paradox. She is also atypical of the females of her class. She doesn’t want to contract a good marriage and be hidden away in a man’s home. She wants to work, learn, see new horizons, and only marry for love with a man who sees her as a partner. She hopes that man is the learned scholar, but surprisingly enterprising and adventurous Chen-wei who seems to accept her just as she is even if he has never spoken of wanting to marry her.

The romances is a subtle one. Soling and Chen-wei are so very different from personality to temperament to ways of accomplishing their goals. They might even be different about their goals though they share some foundational principles. I like that the author does not rush things with these two. The touch of a hand or the meeting of the eyes is as profound as a passionate kiss for them and the reader feels it.

All in all, this second book in the series was as engaging as book one and left me eager for the next installment. I can easily recommend this to those who enjoy mild steampunk romance, but also lovers of historical romance.

My thanks to the author for the invitation to read her book in exchange for an honest review.

Romance Roundabout #407 SPR

Historical Romance #119

The following two tabs change content below.
I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • Gotta buy this! And I want her other historical romance too! The one you reviewed here a few months back.

    • I love her writing whether its her Tang Dynasty romances, her Lotus Palace Mysteries, or this newest Steampunk Chronicles series. I think you would like these since I know you enjoy Steampunk.

  • Saw this one on another blog and I immediately wanted to read the first book. Great review!

    • These are fantastic, Lekeisha. I hope you get the chance.

  • Debbie Haupt

    Great review Sophia Rose I have been meaning to give this series a try. Jeannie is a local author who I’ve actually met!

    • That’s neat, Debbie! I imagine that was a fun experience and it’s also fun to support the local authors. I love her books and they are definitely worth picking up.

  • I SO want to try book 1

    • Yes, you REALLY do. These are pretty good.

  • Asian steampunk sounds very interesting. I haven’t read really any steampunk, but a story set in Japan sounds so great.

    • Usually, I only read steampunk blended with UF or PNR, but I love Jeannie’s Asian historicals so it was easy to slip into her steampunks. And yes, the world of Shogun Japan was fascinating as a backdrop.

  • I still have yet to read a steampunk type book. Maybe one day.

    • You would probably like the ones that blend Paranormal Romance in, Mary, because of how much you like that. At least, that’s how I waded into it gently. 🙂 This series is one of the few that I read that are straight steampunk.

  • I won one of this author her books in a giveaway last Coyer, but haven’t read it yet. I haven’t read a good steampunk book in a while so I might check this one out. I always found asian history pretty interesting and the focus on China and Japan in these books sound well done. I like the sound of the subtle romance and it seems the author really makes it work. Great review!

    • Really? That’s great. Which book did you win?

      I love her focus on Asian history, too. The Steampunk ones are from the eighteen hundreds and her other series are more medieval, but all seem pretty authentic. Yes, the romance is subtle and matches the culture and the times. I look forward to the next book.

      • I won a Dance with Danger. If you won a prize you could pick a book from a long list and I recognized that one from when you reviewed one of her books and it sounded good so I picked that one.

        • Oh yes, that was a good one. Very exciting! That’s neat that you remembered my review. Thanks!