Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
After losing his hand in a military accident, Finn Croucher heads to the East End of London to a small shop recommended to him by the surgeon who amputated his hand. Finn was told that Dalton can make mechanical limbs so lifelike as to enable the wearer to use them just like the originals. And that is just what Dalton does, crafting a new hand for Finn out of springs and metal that bonds with his nerves, allowing Finn to move his fingers and feel things just like he did before. But getting used to the hand will require some training and Dalton agrees to help Finn through this process.
The men quickly feel an attraction to one another, and despite Finn’s lack of experience with men, begin a sexual relationship quite soon. They spend their days together, Finn helping Dalton in the shop while he practices with his new hand. And they spend their nights together too, exploring the sexual connection they have with one another. Soon the men find that they have strong feelings for each other, ones that make them wish to be together permanently. But with Finn’s return to military service looming, they must decide what kind of life they really want and if it is one they can have together.
So I was drawn to this story first by the amazing cover, and secondly after reading Anna Martin’s guest post here where she talked about this story. Well, once she mentioned cross dressing, tattoos, and seducing of the innocent, that was about all I needed to hear! And this story definitely delivers on all those things. Dalton is a bit older and more experienced sexually. Martin paints such a vivid picture of him, from his blond dreadlocks, down to his corset and silk stockings. He is a loner and a little anti social, but he connects immediately with young Finn. Yet Dalton is also so careful with Finn, making sure the younger man is comfortable with everything they do together. Dalton has this sweet nurturing side that you don’t expect right away. And oh, super sexy.
Finn is also a bit of a contradiction. He is also an outsider, coming from a family of travelers, and his darker skin makes him stand out. Finn has no experience with men (and doesn’t seem to have had much with women either). But somehow he is just struck immediately by Dalton and acts on his attraction despite how unexpected his feelings are. At the same time that Finn is the more inexperienced partner, he is also strong, both mentally and physically. He is a skilled marksman with a bow and arrow. He survived a horrific accident and amputation. And even as he feels some insecurities about his new sexual relationship, he also has the confidence to go forward and take what he wants. These guys are incredibly sweet together and much of the story focuses on how mushily in love they are, which I adore. And you all know I love my cross dressing kink and I loved to see them explore how much they both enjoy Dalton’s affinity for corsets and fancy stockings. Things may have been a little pat and easy, but I think given the length and tone of the story that it really works.
My only real criticism here is that I wish the steampunk element had been more developed with some richer world building. Dalton builds these fabulous mechanical limbs, and we get some nice detail about how he measures and fits them. But that is really the only element of steampunk in the book. Although he makes custom pieces like this for other clients, we never see them being developed. And there are no other steampunk gadgets either in Dalton’s home or workshop, or really any place else that we ever see or hear about. Martin gives us such clever detail on Finn’s hand, it seems like a missed opportunity not to develop this further. It also left the story a little ungrounded because it is not quite a historical, but didn’t feel fully steampunk either.
Despite that issue though, I really enjoyed this book quite a lot. Finn and Dalton are sweet and sexy together, the setup is unique and interesting, and the story is well written. If you are in the mood for sweet and romantic with some nice kink thrown in, definitely give this one a try.
Cover Review: OMG, can we talk about this gorgeous cover? I don’t think the thumbnail begins to do it justice, but if you click on the image to see the detail, it is really amazing. Totally captures the feel of the shop and the intricacies of Finn’s hand. Really wonderfully done.