1897 London, a final showdown is about to begin
London’s underworld is no place for a young woman, even one who is strong, smart and part-automaton like Mila. But when master criminal Jack Dandy inadvertently breaks her heart, she takes off, determined to find an independent life, one entirely her own. Her search takes her to the spangled shadows of the West End’s most dazzling circus.
Meanwhile, taken captive in the Aether, Griffin King is trapped in an inescapable prison, and at the mercy of his archenemy, The Machinist. If he breaks under the hellish torment, The Machinist will claim his powers and control of the Aether itself, and no one in either world will be safe—especially not Finley Jayne and her misfit band of friends.
Finley plunges headlong into the Aether the only way she knows how, by temporarily dying. But she cannot parry The Machinist’s maneuvers for long. To defeat him for good, Griffin will have to confront his greatest fear and finally come face-to-face with the destructive power he wields.
About the Author
Kady Cross, publishing under various names, is a USA TODAY bestselling author of more than twenty books, including Harlequin TEEN's Steampunk Chronicles. She is lucky enough to have a husband who shares her love for the slightly twisted and all things geek, and a houseful of cats with whom she shares her darkest secrets. Her love of books and makeup borders on addiction—of which she never, ever wants to be cured. Visit her on the web at www.alterkate.com or on Twitter: @AlterKates.
Read an Excerpt
There was a most villainous killer on the loose. For weeks the nobility of Great Britain had been terrifiedparticularly the gentlemen. More than usual had fled to the country to their family homes, and those who hadn't family seats had gone with those who had to hunt and have lavish parties. They thought they were safe away from London, but they weren't. There'd been three murders outside of the city over the past monthtwo in Derbyshire, and one in Leicestershire. All three had happened at house parties where the guest lists contained almost exactly the same names. Two more deaths had happened in London, also at parties.
The victims were all men and they had all been burned to death. From the inside. That fact made the murders odd enough that Her Majesty Queen Victoria had requested that Griffin King, Duke of Greythorne, investigate. The only clue Griffin had to go on were two loose pearls found at the scene of one of the Derbyshire murders. Based on that scant evidence, the press had decided the killer was a woman, and dubbed her "Lady Ash" because ash was exactly that to which her victims were reduced.
Griffin had a particular dislike for the press but unfortunately they seemed to be correct. It seemed the killer was indeed a woman, but who? And why?
"I've never seen people madder than the aristocracy," Finley Jayne remarked as she lounged on the sofa in the library of King House, nibbling on shortbread. An audio cylinder of Beethoven played softly in the background. "Excluding you, of course."
He smiled at her. "Of course." Griffin treasured these quiet moments when it was just the two of them doing mundane things. True, they were trying to catch a criminal, but tea and biscuits made it seem normal. Any moment now he expected someone to come barging in, but for the time being he was contenta feeling he rarely experienced anymore.
He wasn't an idiot. He knew that he had to confide in Finley that The Machinist, Leonardo Garibaldi, was haunting him. Everyone had expected something of that nature to occur after the villain had died. Even from beyond the grave, Garibaldi was hell-bent on destroying Griffin and everything he held dear. The Machinist gave him no rest. He'd appear at any time of day, during any sort of function. Sometimes Griffin could send him back to the Aether, or ignore him, but other times
Garibaldi was getting stronger. Very strong. Being dead had only made it easier for him to harness Aethe-ric energy and use it for his own dark purposes. Soon, the ghost would make his move, but with any luck not until they found and apprehended Lady Ash.
What would happen when Garibaldi came for him was anyone's guess. Griffin worked on strengthening his own abilities, but it felt more draining than empowering. He was tired all the time, and all he wanted was to commit Finley's smile to memoryjust in case. He wasn't being maudlin, just prepared. Death didn't frighten him, but imagining all the things Garibaldi might have in store for him before and after well, that was disconcerting. Still, he wasn't about to go without a fight, and even if Garibaldi did his worst, Griffin would find a way outand defeat his nemesis.
He reached out from where he sat on the sofa beside Finley and stroked a lock of black that ran through her honey-blond hair. It had appeared shortly after they'd amalgamated the two sides of her Aetheric self. She'd rather been like that Jekyll and Hyde character before, though much prettier.
She glanced at him, amber eyes troubled. "What?"
He shook his head. "Nothing. Just wanted to touch you."
She snuggled closer. "You can touch me whenever you like."
"That's an interesting invitation," he murmured, trailing his fingers down her neck. She was wearing a violet frock with long sleeves under a black leather corset. Even though he'd helped lace the corset that very morning, there was something tantalizing about possibly getting her out of it____He pressed his lips to her throat.
The door to the library burst open.
Finley swore. Griffin chuckled. Of course the others would choose this moment to show up. Their timing was, as always, terrible.
They filed in one after the otherEmily in front, followed by Sam, Wildcat and Jasper. A motley bunch if ever there was one. Emily carried a stack of papers, and had that expression on her freckled face that said she believed she'd solved a puzzle. Griffin loved to see that look.
"What did you find?" he asked as Finley sat up, putting a little distance between them. He wanted to pull her back, but she wasn't much for flaunting their relationship in front of other people, even their friends.
Emily flopped down in a nearby chair, spreading the papers out on the tea table. "Lady Ash, I think."
Sam snatched a shortbread from the plate and shoved the entire biscuit in his mouth. "She's a genius."
It always amazed Griffin to watch Sam eat. His friend loved food so much that somehow he managed to talk without spraying crumbsas though his mouth knew better than to waste them by spitting them out.
"That goes without saying," Griffin agreed.
"Just let her speak, will you?" Finley was peevishand it was obvious. Griffin patted her thigh. He'd make certain they had some time alone later.
Emily arched an eyebrow at the other girl's tone and Wildcat and Jasper shared a glance. Maybe Griffin should speak to the cowboy and ask him how he managed to find time to sneak away with Cat. They never seemed to have a problem spending time together. In fact, there had been times when they'd been impossible to find. People always seemed to find him.
"I used the Aether engine to compile a list of possible suspects," Emily informed them in her Irish lilt. "I compared the guest list to all the gatherings with the Scotland Yard accounts of recently reported burglaries."
Finley frowned. "But Lady Ash hasn't stolen anything. Has she?"
Emily grinned, seemingly unaware of just how foul the other girl's mood was. "No, but I reckoned she might be intelligent enough to realize someone would look into her ruined pearls. Two aristocratic women reported having pearls stolen as of late, but only one was invited toand attendedeach of the parties."
They all stared at herwaiting. She sat there, smiling at them as tension built.
"Emily," Finley growled. "Just tell us who the bloody hell she is."
"She's in an ugly mood, Em," Sam added. "Best not to poke too much."
The little Irish girl sighed. "I stayed up all night compiling this datathe least you all can do is allow me to bask in my success."
"Bask later." Finley sounded as though her jaw was glued shut. Griffin hid a smile. It was cruel of himchildish even, but how could he not love knowing that she was so sour because they'd been interrupted?
"Just tell us, Em," he urged. "And then we can praise your hard work and genius."
That seemed to appease her. She lit up like Guy Fawkes Night. "Lady Grantfarthen."
Grantfarthen. It wasn't a title Griffin knew well, but then, he wasn't exactly a social butterfly. As a young noble, especially a duke, he was a person that many sought to know, curry favor from or shove their daughters at. He had more important things to do than dance and drink champagne. Although, perhaps if he'd done a little more of that, his life wouldn't always seem to be in peril.
"Her husband was a viscount," Emily went on. "They spent most of their time at their country estate in Lincolnshire until Lord Grantfarthen shot himself over gaming debts, and the new heir tossed Lady Grantfarthen out."
The new lord must be quite the peach indeed. "Let me guess. The victims have all been people to whom the late viscount owed money?" It wasn't a brilliant deduction, so Griffin didn't pat his own back over it.
Emily nodded. "Two of them had called in their markers, as well. When Grantfarthen couldn't pay, they threatened to ruin him publicly."
It was enough to make Griffin ashamed of the society into which he'd been born. If the thought of ridicule was enough to make you eat a bullet, what sort of world did you live in? Not a very pleasant one. "So the widow uses her abilities for a little revenge and claims her necklace was stolen to cover her tracks."
"She's not stupid," Wildcat commented. "Would have been smarter not to wear the pearls at all, though."
"Appearances," Griffin said, absently. "One must keep up appearances. Not wearing the pearls might make people speculate that she'd taken to selling off her jewelry. Did you look into the lady's finances?"
Emily puffed up like a little bird. "On a whim, I did. Turns out she had her own fortune as her father's only child, but her da had put a stipulation on her dowry that Lord Grantfarthen couldn't have access to it without written permission from his wife and his father-in-law. The old man's in trade apparently, and rich as Midas. He refused to sign over any money, but he did offer his son-in-law a loan."
"Which he refused," Griffin concluded with a grimace. For many menespecially titled onespride was a terrible thing. Having a man "beneath" him deny him what he saw as rightfully his must have driven the viscount to distraction. "Do we know where the father is now?"
Emily consulted her papers. "I have an address for Mr. Peabody in Cheapside. He's been out of the country, though."
"When's he due back?"
She looked again. "This morning. What are you thinking, lad?"
Griffin smiled without humor. "I'm thinking that our fiery lady might decide to pay a visit to her papa. She might decide she's had enough of him controlling her moneyand she might want his, as well."
Some of the color left Emily's cheeks. She was already very pale. "You don't think she'd kill her own father?"
"I think she's insane, very powerful and drunk on the fact that she's gotten away with it for this long. I also think we'd better make haste to Cheapside if we're to save Mr. Peabody from a grisly death." He rose to his feet and offered Finley his hand. "Let's go."
Her fingers entwined with his as she rose to her feet. She wasn't happy, he could telland he didn't blame her. Since they'd met, their lives had been one adventure after another. Some of it had been fun, but most of it had been dangerous. They could use a little quiet time together. He wanted to give her that, but not at the expense of a lifeespecially not when it was a life they could save.
"We'll go away after," he told her in a low voice. "Spend some time alone."
She shot him a doubtful glance. "All right." But there was no conviction in her tone. She pulled her hand free of his and walked toward the door.
"I don't blame her," whispered a voice near his ear.
Garibaldi. Griffin didn't turn his head. Didn't even acknowledge that he'd heard. No one else seemed to have either.
"She knows you don't mean it, Your Grace. More importantly, you know you don't mean it."
Griffin's jaw tightened, but he remained silent. Clenching his hands into fists, he followed his friends.
The Machinist chuckledthe sound echoing in his head.
"I'm coming for you, Griffin King."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** The Girl with the Windup Heart by Kady Cross Book Four of the Steampunk Chronicles Publisher: Harlequin TEEN Publication Date: May 27, 2014 Rating: 4 stars Source: eARC from NetGalley Summary (from Goodreads): In 1897 London, a final showdown is about to begin. London's underworld is no place for a young woman, even one who is strong, smart and part-automaton like Mila. But when master criminal Jack Dandy inadvertently breaks her heart, she takes off, determined to find an independent life, one entirely her own. Her search takes her to the spangled shadows of the West End's most dazzling circus. Meanwhile, taken captive in the Aether, Griffin King is trapped in an inescapable prison, and at the mercy of his archenemy, The Machinist. If he breaks under the hellish torment, The Machinist will claim his powers and control of the Aether itself, and no one in either world will be safe-especially not Finley Jayne and her misfit band of friends. Finley plunges headlong into the Aether the only way she knows how, by temporarily dying. But she cannot parry The Machinist's maneuvers for long. To defeat him for good, Griffin will have to confront his greatest fear and finally come face-to-face with the destructive power he wields. What I Liked: I'm actually going to try and be a little brief in this review, because I don't want to spoil anything in this book, as well as in the series in general. I kind of liked the first book, liked the second book, LOVED the third book, and definitely enjoyed this final book. The third book is by far my favorite, but I think I'd give this series four stars overall. That's pretty great! Finley and the crew never have it easy - even if Garibaldi is dead. In the Aether, Garibaldi hunts Griffin - and succeeds in capturing him. Now it is up to Finley to find Griffin in the Aether, with the help of Emily, Sam, Jasper, Wildcat, Ispley, and someone no one expected. Meanwhile, Mila is adjusting to life as a human. Once an automaton, she is now a human, living under the care of Jack Dandy. Except that she is in love with Jack, and he doesn't seem to either notice, or reciprocate, the feeling. Stupid, typical man, no? So Mila does exactly what Jack did not want her to do - she leaves, and goes on her own. She joins a circus! There are several plots going on in this book. There is the overarching plot, for the entire series, in which Griffin attempts to defeat Garibaldi. There is the plot that each book has, in which a pair of characters struggles to find each other (in this case, it is Mila and Jack). There is Finley and Griffin, and their own personal struggle to be a couple. But in this book, there is also the problem of Jack and his past. You'd think that I'd immediately be all over this multiple plot thing, saying something about the plots being too confusing or underdeveloped, but no. I actually really like this setup. One thing that bothered me about it is below, in the next section. Just to give some perspective. You all know how I feel about Finley and Griffin. I love the pair of them, as well as each of them individually. I love how well-characterized each character is in this book, despite the fact that there are at eight important ones. I wish that Griffin and Finley could have gotten more page time. They are the most interesting about which to read, and the chemistry and romance between them is beautiful and fiery. I can't find it in me to put that in the next section (that Griffin and Finley didn't get enough page time), but I wish there could have been more scenes between them. Alone. Not necessarily doing certain things. Just, alone. This book wraps up beautifully. Like, I'm always terrified of reading conclusion novels, because authors always find a way to make the ending depressing or bittersweet or something. That is NOT the case, with this book (and series). The ending is a good one, a happy one, an even, well, slightly perfect one. You all know how I feel about perfect endings. BUT. I liked this ending. What I Did Not Like: I think this book was a little strange, in terms of its structure. I like the multiple plots - that was interesting and definitely not confusing. But it felt like the overall series plot - Griffin vs. Garibaldi - got pushed to the side a little, with other plots threading through this book. Like, it wasn't always a concern of mine that Griffin might be dying. Which is bad, because Griffin is probably my favorite character. In the first book, it was all about Griffin and Finley. While I like that each of the successive books feature another pair along with Griffin and Finley, I dislike that Griffin and Finley (and Griffin himself) are pushed aside a little. Sometimes, with a large cast of characters, we need to remember who are the MOST important. And you can't say all of the, or one large group, because that is NEVER true. One or two characters are always primary. Would I Recommend It: This book in particular, or the series in general? I'll start with the book. If you've made it this far into the series, DEFINITELY read this book. If you've read book one, or books one and two, read the remaining books in the series (including this one). If you haven't started this series, but you have the means to do so (legally, only legally), then do it! I had a rocky start with the series, but I'm so glad that I kept reading. Rating: 4 stars. What a great ending to a fantastic series! I feel so proud of myself, for sticking with yet another series - especially with a series that started out in the "meh" direction, for me. I ended up really liking this series!
Finley Jayne and the rest of her unusual friends are at it again, this time battling the Machinist's ghost, who has managed to capture Griffin and hold him prisoner in the Aether. Amidst this struggle, Jacky Dandy has another, more personal one on his hands as Mila has "grown up" all too quickly. I just have a few complaints with this series, and to be fair, maybe these "issues" are just due to the fact that the books are aimed at a YA audience with a different approach . Sometimes I actually wish there was more background provided before things just jump right into a major action sequence. There will be brief lull, major action, brief lull, major action, repeat, repeat, until the final major resolution. I guess maybe what I'm trying to say is that I feel like the more subtle details are missing. The major action sequences themselves are actually much too brief. I was a bit shocked to discover that I was almost done with the book and Griffin had yet to be rescued and the Jack/Mila situation had yet to be resolved with only a few pages left. Despite those issues, Cross has created characters that are truly likeable.
It is amazing a few years ago, I didn't even know what Steampunk was...now its one of my go to choices for favorite genres. Kady Cross's Steampunk Chronicles is a series I devotedly follow. The Girl with the Windup Heart is a wonderful addition to this collection. It is about time someone really took Jack Dandy on, and Mila was a splendid match. Her basic naivety was refreshing and quite humorous. I loved watching her experience the world with such a fresh and excited demeanor while we got deep insight into the elusive Jack Dandy and his true history. The story wasn't all about Mila's automaton to human transition, we also get a heavy dose of the ever expanding core gang and fabulous cast of the Steampunk Chronicles. The Machinist just won't stay dead and has come to play havoc with Finley and her friends. I found myself getting lost in the story, sucked in by Cross's imaginative world building. She gives us just enough science to back her storytelling but doesn't bog it down with technical jargon. Filled with marvelous gadgets, superior female intellect, outrageously funny situations, super-natural circumstances and incendiary attraction, The Girl with the Windup Heart was a marvelous read.
I loved all of these books. The entire series. Read the novellas too. They open up each of the characters so much more.
Well, this took me longer to finish than I thought. Mostly because I wasn't in the mood for it and was kind of losing interest. After finishing this, I thought how could I? This series is awesome with interesting characters, the writing fast paced and well the steampunk elements along with the story is also pretty good. Oh and the covers are gorgeous. Anyway I found I liked this one a little bit more for the second half. Where the characters came together. The first half started off good but then I don't know, I wasn't that invested as I was in the beginning of the series. It happens with a lot of book series. With the exception of Finley and co trying to save Griffin, the Mila and Jack story arc I kind of liked but felt it would of been better as a short story or something. That doesn't mean I didn't like those characters. I think those two are adorable and are just as interesting as Finley, Emily, Sam and Griffin of course. Near the end though, I was thinking wait that's it, no epilogue or something. But as this I think being the last in the series, its a god finale I guess. So this is a 3 for the first half and a 3.5 for the second half. One of my favorite series regardless.
Such an amazing ending to the steampunk chronicles of The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross! It made me cry, I absolutely loved it!