In a steampunk world based on the Edwardian era, there are certain gender expectations. Women should only show the skin of their faces. They should not venture about cities by themselves. Courtship with a man should be conducted with a chaperone present, and in a steady and proper manner, without being flirtatious or forward.

To all of that I say, “Poppycock!”

My heroine, Octavia Leander, defies all expectations of her gender. Certainly, she’s a modest dresser and can’t generally be described as a flirt, but she’s also a woman who spent the majority of her teenage years working in the medical wards on the frontline of war. She’s now determined to be an independent business woman and support herself by her profound healing magic.

She didn’t count on the events in my first book, The Clockwork Dagger, and that she’d be the target of kidnappers and assassins. And she certainly didn’t think she’d fall in love with the dashing airship steward Alonzo Garret.

As the second book of the duology begins, Octavia and Alonzo are riding stolen horses through the wilderness. Their attraction to each other is very much present, but everything between them has been proper. Mostly.

It’s all about tension. That build-up for what will eventually happen off the page. Alonzo is a gentleman to an extreme. He wouldn’t lay his hands on Octavia, though he wants to, very much. The desire is in his every glance but he would never act on his feelings, not as long as their lives are in imminent danger. He can’t let down his guard.

Octavia can read his expressions, but even more, she can read his body. Her magic enables her to hear the health of everyone around her in the form of song. She reads the musical notes to know if someone is diseased or injured–or if their heart is racing and blood is pounding. Octavia can hear his desire. She’s not experienced with men, but she’s no sheltered ninny, either. After all, she worked in battlefield camps surrounded by thousands of men.

They both know it’s only a matter of time until they’re attacked again. They sleep with their boots on. They scan the skies for airships and other craft. In the meantime, the bond between them grows. The gazes smolder. The banter gets a little more suggestive. Despite the danger, despite the terrible odds against them, Octavia and Alonzo can’t help but smile when they look at each other. Together, they have hope that they might actually survive these travails–and that the future beyond will not be a lonely one.


The Clockwork Crown by Beth CatoClockwork Dagger Novels

Rich in atmosphere, imagination, and fun, the action-packed, magic-filled sequel to The Clockwork Dagger is an enchanting steampunk fantasy, evocative of the works of Trudi Canavan and Gail Carriger.

Narrowly surviving assassination and capture, Octavia Leander, a powerful magical healer, is on the run with handsome Alonzo Garrett, the Clockwork Dagger who forfeited his career with the Queen’s secret society of spies and killers—and possibly his life—to save her. Now, they are on a dangerous quest to find safety and answers: Why is Octavia so powerful? Why does she seem to be undergoing a transformation unlike any witnessed for hundreds of years?

The truth may rest with the source of her mysterious healing power—the Lady’s Tree. But the tree lies somewhere in a rough, inhospitable territory known as the Waste. Eons ago, this land was made barren and uninhabitable by an evil spell, until a few hardy souls dared to return over the last century. For years, the Waste has waged a bloody battle against the royal court to win its independence—and they need Octavia’s powers to succeed.

Joined by unlikely allies, including a menagerie of gremlin companions, she must evade killers and Clockwork Daggers on a dangerous journey through a world on the brink of deadly civil war.

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