About Beauty and the Clockwork Beast
When Lucy Pickett arrives at Blackwell Manor to tend to her ailing cousin, Kate, she finds more than she bargained for. A restless ghost roams the hallways, werewolves have been reported in the area, and vampires lurk across the Scottish border. Lord Miles himself is clearly hiding a secret. He is brash and inhospitable, and does not take kindly to visitors—even one as smart and attractive as Miss Pickett. He is unsettled by the mysterious deaths of his new wife, Clara, and his sister, Marie. Working together, Miles and Lucy attempt to restore peace to Blackwell Manor. But can Lucy solve the mystery of Miles? Can she love the man—beast and all?
If you read the book blurb, you might wonder exactly which genre this book falls into. There are werewolves, vampires and a ghost – so paranormal. Mysterious deaths – mystery. A brash hero and an attractive heroine – romance. Now look at the book cover. The cover shows period clothing, a dirigible, gears and goggles – so steampunk. Which genre is it? Which ever is your favorite!
The existence of vampires, werewolves and ghosts is an element of the world that Lucy Pickett and Lord Miles Blackwell live in. The paranormal aspect is critical to the story, but does not consume the entire plot.
It is the mystery that keeps the pages turning in Beauty and the Clockwork Beast. Why is Lucy’s cousin, a normally hale and hearty young woman, always ill? Who or what killed the earl’s wife Clare and sister Marie nearly six months ago. What secrets does Miles keep from his family? Why does the ghost of Marie seek out Lucy during the very dark night? And, most importantly, who is trying to harm Lucy?
The mystery may have kept the pages turning for me, but the romance between Miles and Lucy enhanced the story. You may have guessed, this is where the title comes from. Miles is the scarred, secretive, taciturn, angry beast and Lucy is the lovely breath of fresh air that Miles cannot help but breath in. The romance builds nicely and slowly, but you can’t help but think that as events are playing out, there is nowhere else for the hero and heroine to turn but to each other.
As for the steampunk elements, there are many. From the title, you might assume that the earl is partly clockwork and, indeed, he does have a heartclock that needs to be wound from time to time. But the most interesting piece of technology is the Tesla connection. With a telescriber, it allows instantaneous written communication between two parties (texting?). And, there are portable telescribers that, with the right programming card, can display pre-programmed information, such as a map (GPS?). I’m not saying there are smart phones in this story. But there is some very creative 19th century communication technology.
On top of all these genres – paranormal, mystery, romance and steampunk, there is an overlay of darkness. From the haunted halls of Blackwell manor, to a foggy graveyard, to a seance that attracts a vampire, the gothic atmosphere of the book is eerie and compelling. It adds to the mystery and to the romance.
What do you think? Too many genres? Maybe. No. Nope. It works. In Beauty and the Clockwork Beast, Nancy Campbell Allen has created an enticing blend of paranormal, mystery, romance, and steampunk that is overlaid with a gothic mood, telling a haunting tale of mystery and love in the 19th century.