Genres: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Steampunk
Also by this author: The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles, #1), The Strange Case of Finley Jayne (Steampunk Chronicles, #0.5)
Series: Steampunk Chronicles #2
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: Libby (My Library app)
In New York City, 1897, life has never been more thrilling-or dangerous Finley Jayne and her "straynge band of mysfits" have journeyed from London to America to rescue their friend Jasper from the clutches of a devious criminal demanding a trade-the dangerous device Jasper stole from him... for the life of the girl Jasper loves.
One false move from Jasper, and the strange clockwork collar around Mei's neck tightens and tightens. From the rough streets of lower Manhattan to elegant Fifth Avenue, the motley crew of teens follows Jasper's elusive trail. And they're about to discover how far they'll go for friendship.
More than ever, Finley must rely on powerful English duke Griffin King to balance her dark magic with her good side. Yet Griffin is at war with himself over his secret attraction to Finley... and will risk his life and reputation to save her.
Now, to help those she's come to care for so deeply, Finley must infiltrate the criminal gang. Only problem is, she might like the dark side a little too much...
The Girl in the Clockwork Collar was a great continuation of what Ms. Cross built in the first book of the series. I still absolutely adore the cast of characters that we get to see. We got to see a lot more of Griffin, the suave leader of the misfit gang, and the current Duke of Greythorne. He is a true hero, and I loved watching him wrestle with his humanity in this one.
Finley, our main character, is his social opposite, and she’s a tough fighter in absolutely every way. She doesn’t play to win, she plays for those she loves and is willing to do anything for them. Anything. She’ll beat down the door and walk straight into hell if she thinks it will help her friends any. In this one, she’s still trying to figure out who she is, while battling circumstances that have spun far out of her control, and she still manages to be the toughest broad on the street.
There’s definitely a romance happening there, between those two, but it isn’t rushed at all and is a glorious slow-burn courtship whose timeline fits the time. Ms. Cross allows the romance to build and build, crafting the romantic and sexual tension until they have no choice to bend to its natural conclusion. There is a bit of a love triangle, but I wouldn’t worry about it, because it’s done very well, and there’s no teenage melodrama in it. Believe me, I hate love triangles as much as the next person, so if I’m endorsing it, you’ll be fine. Jack Dandy is a swoon-worthing, dark character that I very much like. Sadly, he wasn’t too present in this one and I hope to see him more in the future.
“You’re not a mistake. Don’t you ever think of yourself that way. You’re exactly as you ought to be.”
Who we really got to see in this one was Jasper, and thank goodness for that. He’s kind of like the Nikolai in this series (referring to the Nikolai from the Shadow and Bone series) so far. While a focal character, he doesn’t have a romantic interest in here yet… setting aside his harmless flirtation with everyone, but especially with Emily. I do have my hopes for Cat, however, even if she’s stuck in New York and he’ll (hopefully) be back in England soon.
My favorite part of this one was the sense of family. It does have a very strong found-family theme to it, which I talked about in my review of the first book, The Girl in the Steel Corset, but it was oh-so heightened here, where the “band of misfits” were in New York, away from their comfortable home in London. I love how these misunderstood rascals band together, and all the bickering that comes with it. Sometimes it had me giggling out loud – Now that’s family 💕✨
I still have the same… cautions as I had before. The book is very well-written, of course, but it does have an elevated sense of technology than you would think a steampunk should have and doesn’t seem to pay any attention to the Victorian rules that govern society. Which is fine. I thoroughly enjoyed this YA adventure as it was told, but I just wish that I could really get more of those steampunk vibes, rather than the New-Age, Modern Steampunk I’m getting instead.
But overall, this story was a journey. Ms. Cross has serious skill when it comes to building her stories, layering them in a way that allows the story to flow beautifully. It didn’t feel dull or dry once, and even though the book itself is set up with more, smaller conflicts than everything building up to one, I was never distracted away from the fun characters, totally invested in the plotline.
Series Reading Order
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