A Western Steampunk was all I needed to know before taking up this book and settling into my comfy chair. I was all anticipation and when this one began, I was definitely not disappointed. It was exciting, gritty, passionate, dangerous, and a little dark.
Clark Treasure grew up rough and hard as the son of a Tarnished Silver prostitute living in a hand to mouth existence in a mining town. All that changes when he filches a vile of green serum off an army general that he assumes is absinthe only it isn’t. It’s a concoction that now allows him to bring the dead back to life or take a life with his touch. It also allows him to see the dead.
The army is now hot on his trail to experiment on him and the only safe place he knows is to head for his wealthy father who never acknowledged him or came for him. He spends two years on the run and taking care of himself in the wilds of the west until he made his way to the Treasure Ranch. Clark expects uneasiness and hostility and meets acceptance and welcome well not from his half-brothers and too much welcome from his spoiled, feisty half-sister.
Amethyst was happy in the city and queening it over everyone and thinks a summer spent living simply on the family ranch will be a nightmare. That is until she encounters a new half-brother out of the blue. Clark is the first male she hasn’t been able to twist around her little finger and he doesn’t play games like the city boys. He is strong, raw, and capable. Why did he have to be her brother?
Clark is no sooner at the ranch and adjusting then he starts to see that the Treasures aren’t the only powerful people. Senator Horan and his family are their equals and the Horans won’t be content until they’re running it all. Only Clark with an insistent Amethyst along with a determined ghost can steal back inventions that give the Horans an edge. Meantime, he needs to resist his attraction to Amethyst.
The story is a western with a twist. It’s a parallel earth history story where steampunk technology and western and eastern post-civil war America era with royalty instead of presidency. The paranormal element of the ghosts was cool, too.
The author doesn’t spend much time on the general setting, but does deftly draw a picture of the local settings in the story whether it was mining town, ranch, or out in the wild deserts and forests. I liked the balance of description and plot.
The pace of the story moved along well and varied with the scenes. It had some exciting scenes that were fast and furious switching with slow and thoughtful. There were times that it was active voice and times that it was more passive.
It shifted between multiple narrators and I liked that their voices were so unique and different. Without names being used, I would have known whether Clark, Amethyst, Jeremiah, or someone else was speaking.
There is a large cast of characters and I enjoyed meeting them all. The Treasure family, their friends, their enemies, other interested parties, and of course, Clark. The parents are more back seat though Mrs. Treasure is present many times as the benevolent gentle lady who lends propriety to matters. Jeremiah and Nathaniel were interesting how the author brought out their situations and flaws that they must work on. I loved the dynamics of Clark coming into their home and situation.
So far the villains are shaping up nicely. There were a few moments with two separate villains. The Army captain who wants to capture Clark so he can be experimented on and help the army build supersoldiers and the powerful Senator who wants more power and smashes anyone in his way. These are both cunning and strong adversaries and I love it when villains are tough to defeat.
As to the main characters, Clark is probably the catalyst for most of what happens and the glue holding the plot threads together. He was a fascinating hero. Clark is a product of the times and I liked his earthy, survivalist nature. I was engaged reading his adventures and watched him come of age as a man. Alongside his ‘do what you have to do to get by’ thinking was also a man with heart and heroic traits who still had the impulsive actions of a younger guy and this all made an interesting blend.
The spanner in the works was Amethyst or at least her when it comes to the romantic relationship that develops. She’s like a spoiled teenage Scarlett O’Hara on speed. By herself and not in a romance, I would have adored watching her go from empty-headed, selfish rich city society girl to a woman of worth. In fact, I did enjoy watching that start to happen and laughed several times at her over the top antics. I say start to happen because trust me folks, she has a long ways to go.
But, yes, there is a but. I really didn’t care for her with her love interest.
She’s too young and selfish for her match. I was very uncomfortable with the hotter love scenes as a result of her feeling so young not to mention I really don’t see the attraction in someone that outrageously selfish. I can’t even respect it, let alone love it so yeah, the romance didn’t work for me and that last scene really left me shaking my head that it felt wrong.
This is considered for a YA audience so I would say older YA since there is violence, language, and sex present.
Fortunately, this had a lot more going on than romance and it is the first part of a series so there is a long ways to go yet for a lot of things. Maybe I’ll change my mind about the romance. I would still recommend this especially to those who love a blend of gritty and passionate western, fantasy, and steampunk romance. I won’t even qualify it as for those who like YA because this didn’t feel like a YA with the exception of Amethyst. I would say NA and Adult audiences would appreciate it, too.
My thanks to Curiosity Quills for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #287 SP
Cliché Klatch #175 ‘This is a bad idea’
Historical Romance #80
New to Me #145 author/series