Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “You’re not going to kill me in my sleep are you?.“ “No, I’d want you awake for that.”
Claire Brooks is on a mission of revenge. A deadly agent for The Company, Claire is determined to find the reasons her brother was killed, even if that means getting into bed with the Wardens of the Realm. When she is taken prisoner by the Wardens after being shot by a fellow agent, Claire agrees to help bring down The Company and accept whatever punishment the Wardens deem fit if they help her capture the rogue agent who her murdered her brother.
Alistair Payne, Lord Wolford, an agent for the Wardens, is still recovering both mentally and physically after his lover betrayed him and left him for dead. Struggling with past issues involving betrayal. Alistair agrees to partner up with Claire; he will help her capture the rogue agent while keeping a tight grip on her leash.
When Claire and Alistair go undercover as an affianced couple, both Claire and Alistair find it hard to discount the growing feelings between them. As they get closer to the capture of their target, each must decide what’s more important…their loyalties or their hearts?
Touch Of Steel, the second in Ms. Cross’s dark and intriguing Clockwork Agents series, submerges us back into the wonderful world of Victorian sediments and steampunk adventures. Riveting action, wicked spies, steamy romance, and an all-star cast keep us on our toes. Lush world building continues to evolve as we divulge deeper into the mechanics behind the Wardens of the Realm and their arch enemies, The Company. The Wardens are a secret government group who work behind the scenes to protect the monarchy and it’s hierarchy, while The Company seeks to destroy it. One important aspect to remember is each group feels it is doing what is best for England and its residents and each will stop at nothing to achieve their objectives.
Our story begins with the capture of Claire Brooks, code name the Dove, by the Wardens. A very dangerous woman, Claire is considered a huge catch for the Wardens. When she comes to, she immediately asks for Lucas Grey. Lucas was the hero in Heart Of Brass and a former agent for the Wardens and The Company. Lucas, whose mind was tampered with by The Company, lost seven years of his life and Claire knows that if anyone will help her with her revenge against The Company, it will be him. However, Lucas is no longer an agent and due to his family situation, Alistair steps in to once again to protect his friend from harm.
Alistair is prepared to hate Claire as an enemy of the Wardens but finds himself reluctantly drawn to the strong, independent woman. She makes no pleas or excuses for her actions. Like him, she believed in her employer and their ideals…until they took from her the only person in the world she loved. With a beauty and boldness that appeals to him, Alistair finds himself liking and admiring her while, at the sometime, disgusted with her for betraying her employers. He already doesn’t trust his judgment when it comes to women and he can’t help but feel that Claire’s endgame is far more insidious than anyone realizes.
Both Claire and Alistair are delightful protagonists who you instantly connect with. Writing in the 3rd person allows us an intimate view into both their psyches. Claire’s commitment to the Company is explained in that she has been with them since she was fifteen years old. As her only family, their betrayal was doubly hard for her. Alistair also grew up amongst spies and both his parents were Wardens. Both have suffered at the hands of deception, which is both a hinder and connection for them in their relationship. Their interactions with one another are sensual and amusing. Witty dry dialogue and little digs will have you smiling as their two square off against each other. Strong chemistry keeps their romance steamy even as it unfolds slowly.
A well developed and personable secondary cast with individual storylines that intersect and spike your curiosity. Dr. Eva Stone once again shows her remarkable compassion in her befriending of Claire and we see a tiny clue of her back story involving another Warden that I’m anxious to read about. Ms. Cross allows us time with Lucas and Arden; letting us see how their relationship is progressing. We met other Wardens and various members of the Company. What I enjoy about this series is that everyone has hidden agendas; making for a more exciting story filled with many twists and turns. As stated earlier, the Wardens and The Company want what’s best for their country. There are good and bad agents on both sides of the playing field. Viable characters and intriguing conflicts keeps the story moving along and also continues to give more insight into our characters and their places in this secret world.
If you enjoy strong protagonists, witty dialog, steamy romance, and exciting steampunk adventures, then I wholeheartedly recommend Kate Cross’s Clockwork Agent series.
Overall Rating: B+