In the gleaming heights of Victorian London, a world of deception awaits an unconventional Society lady whose taste for adventure makes her a most formidable adversary . . .
Though Society demands that I make a good marriage, I, Cherry St. Croix, have neither the time nor the interest. I am on the trail of a murder with no victim, a mystery with no motive, and the key to an alchemical formula that could be my family's legacy.
Yet the world is not so kind as to let me pursue simple murder and uncomplicated bounties. Above the foggy drift, an earl insists on my attention, while my friends watch my increasingly desperate attempts to remain my own woman. From the silken demands of the Midnight Menagerie—to whose dangerously seductive ringmaster I owe a debt—to the rigorous pressures of the peerage, all are conspiring to place before me a choice that will forever change my life.
Our Review, by LITERAL ADDICTION’s Pack Alpha – Michelle L. Olson:I really enjoyed the first installment of Karina’s ST CROIX CHRONICLES, "Tarnished", but the sequel blew me away. My exact, 'first thought' words upon completion were: "Hells bells & damn Karina... You butter us up for a book & a 1/2 and then drop THAT on us!? Just wow. The series is getting better & darker & I want the next one now!"Once again we're immersed in a split world, that of London above and below, where the line between the classes is darkly drawn, and where Cherry is not quite completely a part of either.Gilded picks up where Tarnished left off with Cherry trying to fit in with the upper-crusters of London above, but continuing her work as a Collector below the drift as she tries to get over the ordeal she went through in Tarnished.Immediately upon starting out she's battling her demons, both real-world and inner, while trying to make her chaperone happy by entertaining the advances of Lord Compton and attending soirees. In true Cherry St. Croix fashion however, she remains outspoken and doesn't shy away from her love of science and the mystery therein, thereby shocking and scandalizing society and intriguing Lord Compton all the more. The heart of Gilded revolves around Cherry’s quest to solve Lady Rutledge's riddle about some mysterious murders of professors while still playing a game of cat and mouse with the mysterious collector who both hindered and helped her in Tarnished.Once again Karina weaves a wonderfully magical tale of Victorian Gothic literature using some of the best aspects of the classics we all know and love and gives us an utterly spell-binding read. Not only was the mystery amazing, the action was captivating, and that ending... holy cow! I said I wasn't going to forget Tarnished anytime soon, that goes doubly for Gilded. I absolutely cannot wait for the next book!LITERAL ADDICTION gives Gilded 4 1/2 Skulls.read more
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Second in a steampunk series that continues to grow on me more and more as I get my hands on them, Gilded is a nearly perfect follow-up to the oodles of fun and suspense that was Tarnished. As before, Karina Cooper's obvious talent for worldbuilding, setting, and for crafting real, complex characters rises to the surface and helps to make this one of the better steampunk novels I've read this year. I raced through and loved the first book earlier this year, and I can say that the months of expecting this sequel was more than worth the wait. The take on the steampunk aspect is still fresh, fun, and above all, wholly original in its execution; Cherry remains the same stubborn, clever, funny heroine she showed herself to be before. I've said it before, but I love how uniquely this author incorporates the steampunk aspect into her novel of murder and mystery. So many "steampunk" novels pay bare lip service to the label; supplying an airslip, clockwork or an automaton does not a steampunk novel make. Karina Cooper's version of a London split in two - Upper London, above the smog, and Lower London among it - merged with air canals and sky gondolas. In my review for the first I thought the concept made this London feel like a steampunk, if thoroughly English, Venice. It's creative, it's unique, and most importantly, Karina Cooper makes it work for her story and world. While the world itself isn't expanded too much from what was shown and revealed in the first novel, the solid foundation laid down in Tarnished continues to reap benefits in its direct sequel. This is how I want my retrofuturistic cities to be done - originally, with careful thought, and with relevance to the world it exists within.The cast of characters of the novel are another bonus. Cherry is just as lively and complex as she had been, but characters that I had been ambivalent towards before were fleshed out and more involved than before. I actually got a feel for Earl Cornelius Compton (who, honestly, I was rooting against in the love triangle for Cherry's attention), and for Cherry's previously aloof governess. The more time and attention spent on these secondary characters made it a more rewarding effort. The villain might have been a tad too obvious for my liking, but overall, was camouflaged well with Cherry's thoughts and through several clever, throughout-out red herrings.Fast-paced, action-packed, full of revelations and Society intrigue, Gilded is a quick and easy read. The pages really do fly by as Cherry maneuvers among the nobility and collects among the lower classes below the drift. I was never bored, and trying to keep one step ahead of this quick-thinking sleuth was hard to do. The ending was particularly well-done; I did not see that coming, and it throws the trajectory of the series into a new direction. Cooper is a deft and clever writer; one that is more than capable of lulling her readers into a false sense of security and then pulling the rug from under their feet. I was impressed, entertained, and always engaged with this novel.I must say, I am a fan of Karina Cooper and of this series. It's just that the plot of book two didn't grab me quiiiiiiite as much as the one for the first of the series, Tarnished. That one remains my favorite of the two, but Gilded is no slouch. There is plenty of action, several gamechanging (and very unexpected) plot twists that will keep readers engaged and continually guessing who will win in this deadly game Cherry has begun. Fans of steampunk, clever and capable heroines, and well-done plotting should really pick this series up and give Miss St. Croix a chance.read more
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