Author: Lyn Gala
Publisher: Loose Id
Cover Artist: Valerie Tibbs
Rating: 5.00 of 5 Stars
Alex hid his unnatural attraction to men for many years. That changes when the pirate Beche takes Alex after capturing his ship. At first Alex believes his fate is death and the only question a matter of how he might die. However, the longer he is on the ship, the more he realizes that Beche hates the world because it is unfair in ways Alex never understood. As Alex begins to respect this strong, independent man, Alex’s dormant desires begin to reassert themselves.
Beche hates the titled classes and their government enforcers. They might have outlawed slavery on paper, but they never came to the islands to free him or his family. Since his skin is black, society has little respect for him. Beche expects no more of this latest captive, but soon Beche begins to realize that Alex is a naïve and beautiful man who values family and struggles with his own place in society. That poses an even larger problem because Beche does not want to send Alex back to a world that will mistreat him, but he has no place for a lord on a ship full of pirates.
The Clockwork Pirate by Lyn Gala is an enjoyable, absorbing and enticing steampunk story, the author’s first story in this genre and I hope it’s not her last.
Alex is a Margrave, descended from the great Margrave of Mergau. Alex is a second son, assuming the mantle of Margrave after the death of his brother Pieter at the hands of cut throat pirates. Alex has two sisters Philla and Aster, but the title and prestige are all that’s left of the great house they belong to. Years before when science and contrivances (machines) took over from warhorses and sloops Alex’s father failed to move with the times, and all they once had is now dwindling at an alarming rate. So much so that Alex decides to accompany a precious cargo of tobacco and ale, its value desperately needed to pay taxes and to cover the bills for Aster’s dabbling. Aster, defying convention, designs contrivances. She’s very good but no one will back a woman in a man’s field. It is up to Alex to keep the family afloat and this cargo is vital to the family’s survival.
Alex’s ship is captured by pirates. Alex, trading himself to ensure the safety of his men and the release of part of his cargo finds himself a captive of Le Tigre, a notorious former slave. Le Tigre, better known among his men as Beche, is nothing like the pirates that murdered Alex’s brother Pieter. Alex, confounded at every turn, finds himself confused and strangely at peace when Beche is around. And Beche, intrigued by Alex finds himself reluctant to let him go, but the world they inhabit is not ready for a Margrave and a Pirate to be friends, let alone more, and what of Philla and Aster? He needs to look after and provide for them, he can’t do that from the confines of a pirate ship.
I must admit I picked this up as I thought it was a historical, the cover reinforces that belief, but it’s not a historical, it’s an AU steampunk story set in world that closely resembles Europe at the turn of the century, but the world building is superb with the steam punk element of the story introducing the subtle changes that make this world different to our own Like contrivances (inventions) and airships, and the chemical creation of fuel for the machines to run.
The secondary characters were well written and fleshed out. We get to meet and understand Philla and Aster, both strong woman determined to make their own mark on the world. Philla designs her own future behind Alex’s back and Aster defies convention with her own inventions. We get to understand Beche by listening to his friends and comrades Manual and Fabrice, by hearing of their shared past and loss. I even loved Albert with his bad cooking which comes in very handy later on in the story. The pirates are all complex men but all individual, bad men and good men mixed up, but their choice and reasons for the life they share tangible and real.
The main characters are of course Alex and Beche. Alex is a gentle man, but strong and determined when the need arises. Not afraid to stand up to Beche. Beche is captivated by him describing him as someone with a sharp mind who expects everything to be a trap. I had to laugh at Fabrice’s statement “God help us all. The last time you described someone that way, you married her.”
I loved the interaction between both men. Beche is an honest and honorable man, even though he lives life outside the law he has his own code of conduct and beliefs that guide his way. Alex fights his attraction to Beche while gradually becoming used to life on the ship, even becoming part of the crew, and it’s not until Beche’s life is in danger and Alex’s freedom is all but secured that he realizes he would literally die for the man if need be.
The writing flowed easily and I became very invested in the characters, all of them, not just Alex and Beche, this is one of those stories that is literally the sum of all characters. It’s full of layers and just as you’ve peeled one away one layer another appears to challenge your thinking. It is a long story at around 97,000 words but it didn’t seem that long. I became so absorbed by the story that the pages flew by. There isn’t a lot of sex in the story either, and what there is close to the end. This is something that didn’t bother me at all but it might bother other readers. Alex is a true innocent, he’s been ‘taught’ that being attracted to another man is wrong and suffered at the hands of doctors when his father suspected him of this vice, he is literally afraid of intimacy between two men.
There was one other really interesting thing that makes this steampunk story stand out among the others of its genre, and it’s also part of the reason for very little sex until the end. Ms. Gala introduces the idea that Beche treats Alex in a different, more gentle, coaxing and understanding way, because he felt he had a ‘womanly soul’. Beche was intrigued by Alex from the moment he met the man, but he didn’t understand him. Beche had been married before and I suppose naturally compared his growing feelings for Alex with those he had towards his much loved late wife Lillian and initially he wondered if Alex adapted easily to captivity and helping around the ship because of this ‘womanly soul’. At first I wasn’t sure what I felt about Beche’s view but in the end I didn’t need to decide as it sort of fizzled out once Beche made the mistake of mentioning it to Alex. Alex was so not impressed by Beche’s view that Beche, like any man in love, decided not to mention the idea again! It’s certainly an interesting concept though and one I found fascinating and very thought provoking.
I could say so much more but I really don’t want to spoil the story, I may have said too much already but this is a story to read, think and contemplate. I started it expecting to know where it was going but I was mistaken, instead I was taken on an interesting journey which was everything I could have wanted, and everything I least expected, which is exactly where a good story should take a reader.
Whether you like Pirates, historical or steampunk, or all three, don’t miss this. I highly recommend it.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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