The second book in Karina Cooper's stunning steampunk series featuring fearless heroine Cherry St. Croix, in which she is faced with two men after her heart—and one killer out for her blood.
In the gleaming heights of Victorian London, a world of deception awaits an unconventional Society lady whose taste for adventure makes her a most formidable adversary . . .
Though Society demands that I make a good marriage, I, Cherry St. Croix, have neither the time nor the interest. I am on the trail of a murder with no victim, a mystery with no motive, and the key to an alchemical formula that could be my family's legacy.
Yet the world is not so kind as to let me pursue simple murder and uncomplicated bounties. Above the foggy drift, an earl insists on my attention, while my friends watch my increasingly desperate attempts to remain my own woman. From the silken demands of the Midnight Menagerie—to whose dangerously seductive ringmaster I owe a debt—to the rigorous pressures of the peerage, all are conspiring to place before me a choice that will forever change my life.
Cherry St. Croix is part Francesca Cahill (from the Brenda Joyce books) and part Sherlock Holmes. Her methods are unorthodox, her addiction is secretive, and her nights are spent leading a double life that is most unbecoming to those in Victorian society, should they ever find out. Cherry is also curious, loyal, intelligent, and by the end of Gilded, vengeful and...empty.
What appealed to me with Tarnished (book 1) was that Cherry was different from all the women in many popular books these days. She doesn't possess any magical powers, she isn't obscenely attractive and oozing sex appeal, and she uses her razor-sharp mind to investigate and collect bounties, something she does to support her addiction to opium, mainly in its laudanum form, although she isn't above using the other forms, like smoking or eating, when necessary. In other words, she is flawed and real. Gilded showcases Cherry as even more dedicated towards finding the truth, even more determined to avoid the trappings of society, and by the end, driven to seek revenge. My heart bled with this book. My mind reeled as events began to unfold and I wanted to scream at Cherry, "No, do not do this thing!" but as with all page turners you must follow the characters to the end even when that path is not what you would have chosen for them. A ruthless murderer has put Cherry in his sights and he knows of her real identity, leaving taunting clues in her house and forcing her to take risks that place her in harm's way and threatens her confidence. She seems to always be one step behind or a second too late. This case in particular threatens Cherry and will change the course of her life forever.
Rarely have I wanted a next book so badly, and rarer still when the happenings of a book kept me so focused days after finishing. My mind is running away with possibilities and Corroded, Fall 2013, cannot come soon enough! Cherry has a difficult road ahead and my hope is that she will turn to Hawke for help and that he is able to give it. I think she will need him, despite her wishes to the contrary, in order to regain her sanity and catch a most diabolical killer. Karina Cooper continues to deliver powerfully emotional and imaginative narratives that bring her version of Victorian London to life in a way that leaves readers begging for more.
The Mysterious Case of Mr. Strangeway, a Cherry St. Croix novella, will be available August 5th from Amazon, B&N, and Carina Press, with 50% of the proceeds being donated to Make A Wish Foundation. I can't think of a better way to spend a few bucks...you get an awesome Cherry novella that tells of her very first bounty, plus the satisfaction of knowing that you have helped a child. It's a win-win all around and I am happy to make the purchase.
Corroded, St. Croix #3, will be out in the Fall...and I've already marked my calendar with bright red Sharpie!!!
Reviewed by Anna