Sunday, August 3, 2014

*Gizmos Early Reviews* Engraved (The St. Croix Chronicles #5) by Karina Cooper

**I received this book from NetGalley/Carina Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**


Cherry St. Croix returns to the fog-ridden streets of Victorian London, where the balance of power threatens all that she loves.
I will not wither without laudanum. Sober and determined, I have chosen another way—alchemy, and the pursuit of wellness it embodies. My name is Cherry St. Croix, and though freedom is finally at my fingertips, I return to the blackened streets intent on righting the wrongs I'd left behind.
All is not well in London low. Caught in a war between gangs, men are torn limb from limb, and I am called on to ascertain how. The immoral Karakash Veil is no doubt involved, and Micajah Hawke, a prisoner in his own Menagerie, cannot soften the danger this time.
Armed with the alchemical arts I have learned, my ever present guardian, and what few friends are left to me, I embark on a campaign to rescue the ringmaster I cannot abandon, save the Brick Street Bakers from annihilation, and finally face that which frightens me the most—my own heart.
*My Thoughts*
In the Fifth installment of The St. Croix Chronicles, Engraved, Cherry and her guardian Oliver Ashmore, have returned to a very different London from the one they left five months ago. Cherry is attempting to remain clean from Opium and laudanum addiction, while focusing her energy on learning about alchemy from Oliver. Not far from her thoughts is the Ringmaster of The Menagerie, Micajah Hawke, who is like catnip to Cherry's desires. The man who has left Cherry broken, humiliated, and completely devastated more times than not.

Cherry has had her fair share of situations where she was left barely alive, and about to give up completely. Her journey has taken her from the mean streets, to a traveling circus where she learned necessary skills to survive, to becoming the only female collector in London proper with enough gumption to silence even the harshest of her critics. As if that weren't enough, Cherry has also learned the truth about her parents, took on Jack the Ripper and a rival collector who killed her husband leaving her homeless, broke, and without family or friends.

Cherry's identity is a bit mixed up at this point in the series. Is she a scientist, a collector, an alchemist, a heiress, a murderer, a widow, or a superhero? Cherry really can't be any of this things as long as she has a rather large target painted on her back by the Karakash Veil, owners of the Menagerie, who want to bring Cherry to her knees for her past adventures. As long as she remains free, Hawke suffers. As long as Hawke suffers, Cherry can't move on with her life, or her future because he is her main focus.

Will she ever be able to move on with her life while there are those who believe that she is responsible for Lord Compton's death? Will she ever find her friends, and family and keep them out of harms way? Will the Veil ever stop coming after her, or will she suffer even more torture at their hands? Will she find a way to use her new abilities to save her friend Ishmael Communion and his Brick Street Bakers from annihilation? I won't ever tell, or spoil the story for you!

Engraved is filled with action, suspense, twists, betrayal, reunions, harsh situations that tend to be brutal at times, and an ending that left me feeling a bit more positive about Cherry's future. I will say that if you have read this series, and you are a fan of Hawke and Cherry's, then you do get a whole story arc and plenty of hot, sweaty, sex. I will honestly say that I kind of feel a bit for Oliver at this point. He saved Cherry from certain death, cleaned her up from her addiction, gave her his love, and has waited patiently while Cherry continues to throw herself into dangerous situations while ignoring his warnings about using alchemy against her enemies.

Cooper once again intertwines steampunk, romance, action, with an alternative London setting that is both vivid, and dangerous. Please don't ignore any of the secondary, or tertiary characters that she introduces including Maddie Ruth and Ikenna Osoba. They all play a part in the storyline, and Cherry wouldn't get very far without them. I've "heard" that there is one more Cherry adventure to come, and that will be in January 2015. I am definitely eager to see how Cherry and crew wind up their adventure, and who survives until the very end.

Author - Karina Cooper
Title - Engraved
Series - The St. Croix Chronicles # 5
Published by Carina Press
Releases: August 11, 2014
Genre: Steampunk, Romance
Format: EBook 288 pages

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