Thursday, October 16, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Touch of Steel (Clockwork Agents #2) by Kate Cross

The Wardens of the Realm are a group with extraordinary abilities, dedicated to protecting England from any threat. But in this steam-powered world, there’s a fine line between enemy and ally…

Reeling from her brother’s death, beautiful American spy Claire Brooks has vowed revenge on the member of The Company who she believes to be responsible: Stanton Howard. But when she chases the man to London, Claire is captured by the Wardens of the Realm and placed in the custody of the Earl of Wolfred, the dashing Alistair Payne.

Seeing the prospect of retribution slipping away, Claire convinces Alistair that she has defected and will help him take down The Company. As they travel via steam liner, Claire and Alistair must pretend to be engaged. Claire can’t deny the growing attraction she feels for her pretend husband, but when Howard is finally within her reach, she will have to decide whether her true loyalties lie with The Company or with her heart…

Claire Brooks and her brother Robert had been American spies for the The Company since they were young. But when her brother died, she vowed revenge even if it meant she has to find the culprit herself. She believes Stanton Howard is responsible and follows him to England. However, she is captured by the British spy agency, The Warden's. In exchange for the valuable information she can give them, she is given under the custody of the Earl of Wolfred, Alistair Payne. Together, they will find the men involved, discover the truth about the spy agencies, and fight the dangerous attraction they feel toward each other.

I have read steampunk books before. I love the costumes (Victorian dresses) and the combination of history and modernity. In the past, I haven't liked how the mechanical terms takeover the story; sometimes it's hard to focus on the narrative. However, with TOUCH OF STEEL, romance and steampunk are perfectly balanced.

Kate Cross did a wonderful job describing a vivid world of fan knives, metals, spies and historical England. The story flowed smoothly luring readers in the world she created. The terms used did not interfere with the story. The world building is done well, dropping the right amount of information just at the right time.

The main characters, Claire and Alistair, are both epic spies, they are deadly-badass! But also, they showed weaknesses. Claire suffers as a result of her brother's death and Alastair is still wounded from his former lover that betrayed him and left him for dead. Both have their share of tragedies and yet they still fight for good and their loved ones. I enjoyed the slow burn of love between these two, coupled with witty remarks and full-packed action, what more could I ask for?! For me, they are a perfect couple, one where a simple kiss could make their romance steamy and sensual.

Also, the secondary characters are unique and interesting, each has his own story to tell. Besides that, in this book you'll never guess who's good or right, each has his own agenda; each of them will do anything to get whatever that agenda may be.

Even though this is the second book, it is a stand-alone. I can't wait for Breath of Iron this summer and if ever there's a chance I will read the first book, Heart of Brass.

TOUCH OF STEEL is a not just steampunk but an action-adventure full of spies, revenge, loyalty, twists, steamy scenes and love. It's a new world of wicked spies that I'm not willing to leave yet.

copy provided by Fresh Fiction


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