I have struggled with Steampunk in the past. I can't really tell you why, as I love historical romance (obviously), and I love the aesthetic--I have a particular obsession with clockwork jewelry and elaborate corsets.
But for some reason, if you'd asked me over the summer, I would have told you that Steampunk just isn't my thing. But in September, I read Kristen Callihan's Evernight. And now I totally get it. Boy oh boy, do I get it. Evernight is the fifth in Callihan's Darkest London series, but I hadn't read the rest of the series when I read it, and it didn't really matter--the book stands alone really well.
Here's the premise. Our hero, Will, is part demon, and the victim of a fairly horrific torture earlier in his life that resulted in his being given a clockwork heart. Now, the metal that makes up the heart is taking over Will's body and mind, and in order to survive, he needs the person who made the thing in the first place. The woman who made the thing in the first place--Holly Evernight. Holly is an elemental--she can manage metal with touch, literally driving it back to Will's heart from where it threatens his life and his sanity. You can imagine that this touch bit is pretty central to the romance-y parts of the story, and you'd be right, but even more than you think. You see, Will isn't wild about the woman who was complicit in his being fitted for the heart in the first place, so there's a great amount of conflict between the two even as they have to touch all the time.
It's SO GOOD.
If you, like me, are hesitant about Steampunk, try this one. I dare you. I don't think you'll be disappointed.