A contortionist and a rakish brigand navigate the cabarets of Paris to rescue a girl taken by slavers in the third steampunk-tinged romance of the Blud series.
Life as a contortionist in Criminy’s Clockwork Caravan should be the height of exotic adventure, but for Demi Ward, it’s total dullsville. Until her best friend, Cherie, is stolen by slavers outside of Paris, and Demi is determined to find her.
On the run from his own past, Vale Hildebrand, a dashing rogue of a highwayman, hides Demi from the slavers…but why? He pledges to help her explore the glittering cabarets of Paris to find her friend, but much to Vale’s frustration, Demi soon attracts a host of wealthy admirers. The pleasures of music, blood, and absinthe could turn anyone’s head, and it would be all too easy to accept Cherie’s disappearance as inevitable—but with Vale’s ferocious will and Demi’s drive to find her friend, they soon have a lead on a depraved society of Parisian notables with a taste for beautiful lost girls. Can Demi wind her way through the seedy underbelly of Paris and save her best friend before she, too, is lost?
Delilah S. Dawson has done it again, recreating Paris into a dark and deadly Franchian city that will thrill and excite, while introducing the cabaret like you've never before imagined! Life outside the caravan isn't as easy as Demi once believed, even for a Bludman, and she is swept away by the seductive stardom of Paradis, indulging in the most exotic blood and absinthe as she attempts to locate her lost friend, Cherie. Her only anchor in this dangerous place is Vale, a dashing brigand running from his own responsibilities as he deals with the shady dealings of the parisian underworld.
Demi always wants more, torn between her loyalty to Criminy and her need to seek wild adventures, so her rebellion is not real surprise to those in the caravan. When Criminy gives her the opportunity to attend university she uses that chance to run off and seek her fortune in the cabaret, a dangerous venture made worse when her train is accosted by slavers and she gets separated from Cherie. Her luck changes for the better when she is rescued by Vale, a laissez-faire brigand that steals kidnap victims from the slavers, especially once he agrees to help her find her friend. She plans to take the cabaret world by storm, becoming the only Bludman to ever dance on the Paris stage, and he uses his contacts to help her gain a spot in the Paradis revue. Easy, right? Things start to go haywire as her attraction to Vale grows and she realizes that soon her virtue will be sold to the highest bidder, as nothing is ever free in Paris.
It took awhile for Demi to grow on me because she had such a spoiled attitude, always manipulating to get what she wants from people, including Criminy and her best friend, Cherie. She drove me nuts and honestly, I was surprised that Vale stuck around, lucky for her as he saved her ass on more than one occasion, since she acted so nasty and conceited. At times, Demi seemed too caught up in her newfound fame and it even seemed like she was forgetting that she was supposed to be searching for Cherie, but it was all part of her character development. She needed to have this wild, uncontrollable time to realize what truly mattered, and Vale did too. They were both floundering, searching for a reason, for a purpose, when their paths collided and fate brought them together.
Aside from the people themselves, the alternate version of Paris was brought to life in fabulous detail, the sights and sounds so real and colorful. The alleys and catacombs beneath the city were so dark and full of deadly things, yet the glitz and glamour of the stage lured you even closer, daring the reader to disbelieve. My hope is that the next book will tell the story of Cherie and her process of healing from the horrors she endured while at the hands of the Malediction Club. In some ways, she is quite the opposite of Demi, content with the protection that the caravan provides, a bright soul, generous and kind, deserving of a happily ever after for herself.
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