Author: Hollis Shiloh
Publisher: *Not Listed
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 06/07/2014
Length: Novella (~ 15K-50K)
Genre: Alternate Universe/Alternate World, M/M Romance, Steampunk
Living with a gear heart made from magic and machinery, Auden knows his lifespan will be shortened. Now a second-class citizen, he’s part of the household of Dr. Gregory—the man who stitched him back to life years ago during the war. And now Dr. Gregory is being threatened.
A friendly (sometimes too friendly) police officer named Owen is assigned to help protect the aging doctor. Auden could resent the policeman who’s come to help with security. Instead, he finds himself drawn to the attractive, flirtatious Owen, who somehow doesn’t let Auden’s cold nature scare him away. And that holds a different kind of danger for Auden’s heart.
Set in a steampunk England in the years after World War I, “Gear Heart” is a
straightforward, gentle romance of discovery. Auden Farran was rescued by Dr. Gregory, his life saved by putting a mechanical heart into his chest and setting it going with magic. You’d think this would be a good thing, and that Dr. Gregory would be hailed as a miracle worker.
But no: many people feel that the mechanically altered men are no longer fully human. Their citizenship and rights have been severely diminished. Auden now works for the aging Dr. Gregory, caring for the man who saved his life, and managing his eccentric little household.
It is a very nicely depicted small-town England here, the major twist being the steampunk aspects and the idea that being gay is acceptable, while having mechanical parts is not. Shiloh manages to infuse the story with the same sort of low-level, all-encompassing prejudice that swirled around England in the wake of the Great War—the hideous death toll of that conflict leaving people damaged and wondering if surviving the war wasn’t somehow a mark of failure.
Into this household the author inserts Owen Bellamy, a big strapping cop assigned to help protect Dr. Gregory from external threats as voiced in mysterious letters that keep arriving in the post.
It is a short work, not even a novella, but its simple core premise is what makes it shine. Auden is a good man who suffers from societal prejudice for no fault of his own. He has so fully accepted his second-class place in the world that he has forgotten there are still good, caring people out there; people who will love him in spite of what the laws say.
I have come to appreciate these long short stories when they’re written by really gifted authors. Economy of word and careful construction of place and character are essential, and Hollis Shiloh manages all of it.
This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.
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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