Clockwork Mafia, by Seleste deLaney (review)

May 6, 2013 romantic suspense, Seleste deLaney, steampunk 8


Inventor Henrietta Mason is retiring from airships and adventuring to return home to Philadelphia. Determined to erase all trails leading to her late father’s duplicity, she dismantles his lab and removes all records of the Badlands gold. While in the city, she can’t resist the lure of a charity gala but winds up regretting the whole experience. Well, everything except a heart-racing dance with a certain U.S. Marshal.
His career and vengeance on the line, Carson Alexander must prove a connection between Senator Mason and the mafia. He lucked out happening across Mason’s strikingly beautiful daughter, only to have her slip through his fingers. On a desperate hunt to track her down, he never expects his search to take him into the brutal Badlands.

With a mechanically enhanced enforcer after them, only Carson knows the extent of the danger they face. He’ll have to win over Henrietta’s trust, and her heart, before it’s too late…

My thoughts: 

Clockwork Mafia is an entertaining and at times suspenseful romp.  Henri and Carson are both sympathetic characters; the fact that their relationship was inevitable didn’t prevent me from rooting for them, both singly and together.  Their initial attraction did feel a little too sudden to me, perhaps because the author didn’t spend much time establishing their personalities before throwing them together.  Once I got past that, the progression of their relationship worked pretty well, though there’s still not a lot of depth to the character development.  Their final resolution was satisfying, though perhaps a little too pat.

The adventure itself is also entertaining, albeit somewhat clichéd – a mash-up of pulp-fiction-era adventure, western, thriller, and science fiction tropes that work surprisingly well together, rather like one of the clockwork creations in the book. 

Clockwork Mafia is the second book in a series.  I hadn’t read the first one before starting Clockwork Mafia, and that may have been a mistake.  The first book, Badlands, must have contained a significant amount of world-building, some of which is not well-explained in the second book.  I found myself scrambling to understand a number of things: what was meant by “the Badlands,” the Badlands’ social structure, and Henri’s position and relationship to the crew of the airship, among others.  I was eventually able to catch up, but it would make more sense to start with the first book in the series. 

Bottom line: If you like steampunk and you’re looking for fun, fast-paced suspense with a kiss of romance, give Clockwork Mafia and its precedessor, Badlands, a try.

About the Author: Seleste deLaney has a degree in chemistry, and taught high school for a time.  She has two children, and spends as much of her time in the realm of imagination as in the real world.  Visit her website to find out more about Seleste, the Badlands series, and her other works. 

Rating: 3 stars 

Categories: steampunk romantic suspense 
Series: Badlands #2 
Publisher:  Carina Press (4/29/13) 
Book source: ARC received from the publisher through NetGalley

8 Responses to “Clockwork Mafia, by Seleste deLaney (review)”

  1. kimbacaffeinate

    I love steampunk and will start with book one..lol. Despite the insta-relationship and mix of genres this sounds neat and that cover is gorgeous. Wonderful review;)

  2. Monika

    When your post loaded up, the first thing I noticed was the cover and I thought, “this book has GOT to be steampunk!” Sure enough! 😉 I’ve never tried reading that genre… but I’ve enjoyed some tv shows that border on it.

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      I haven’t read a lot of steampunk, myself. I like the idea of steampunk, and this book was fun, but I think I prefer a British setting (as in Gail Carriger’s Etiquette & Espionage). There’s something about British Victorian society that just fits with steampunk and gaslight!