Iron Guns, Blazing Hearts
I was a fan of the Wild Wild West TV show years before I ever heard the word “steampunk,” so jumped at the chance to review a steampunk western. While I like the steampunk elements, and find the heroine interesting, the action overshadows the romance too much for my taste.
It’s 1875 and Violet Whitcomb and her father are on a train heading from Boston to a conference in San Francisco. Her father is one of the top mechanical engineers//inventors in the world and is going to present a top-secret invention at the conference. Violet is her father’s full-time assistant and feels as if she doesn’t have a life outside of his lab. The only excitement she gets is from the adventure novels she reads.
Violet had hoped for some adventure on the trip, but gets more than she bargained for when they reach the Wyoming territory. A mysterious stranger first mocks her father and then follows Violet into the tiny restroom. Before Violet has time to react, her father is kidnapped by strange mechanical creatures that blow a hole in the wall of the train and take him away.
Logan McCoy does nothing to help Violet prevent her father from being kidnapped but does protect her. But when Violet asks Logan to help rescue her father, he initially refuses. Eventually Violet convinces Logan to help her. Logan knows instantly that the Iron Scorpion has her father. The Iron Scorpion is pure evil; there are rumors throughout the Wyoming territory about the horrible things he does to people, making them less than human. Logan saw the Iron Scorpion kill his entire family for their land. Logan is even less enthusiastic about their quest when Violet insists on bringing Arthur the automaton, her father’s top-secret invention, with them.
Violet is a fun character. She’s bright and has a good sense of humor. She’s enthusiastic at every turn and constantly wants to learn. Despite being terrified of the task they face, she’s brave. Just like the language in the dimestore novels that Violet reads, her language is rather over-the-top, flowery, and a bit purplish. It fits with Violet’s character as she is often overly dramatic. In contrast, Logan is ornery, crotchety, and grumpy, and rarely speaks. Because the story is told primarily from Violet’s point of view, Logan remains a bit of a cipher to me.
I wasn’t convinced when Violet decides she’s falling in love with Logan. They’ve known each other a few days and have barely spoken. I’m convinced Violet thinks she’s in love, based on her love of adventure stories, but am unsure about their future.
Next to Violet, the star of the book for me is Arthur. While Arthur doesn’t speak, he learns how to do some incredible new things over the course of the book. I love how he grew and developed and imitated Logan.
Just like Violet is in love with adventure stories this story is primarily about adventure The action is pretty much nonstop once Violet’s father is kidnapped, and went on a bit too long for me. I would’ve enjoyed a few more character interactions and a bit less action.