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Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

The Girl in the Steel Corset
By Kady Cross

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Release Date: May 24, 2011

Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Source: NetGalley/ARC
Purchase: Book Depo. | Amazon | Kindle
About the Book:

In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one except the "thing" inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch...

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits. Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help-and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on, even if it seems no one believes her.

This book took so long to put down! And the length wasn't what made it so difficult to finish.

Could it have been the characters?

Nope, that wasn't it because I absolutely loved the cast in this book! From sweet, timid, and brilliant Emily, to-die-for Irish accent aside, who comes up with the most astounding contraptions to the devious and devilishly handsome Jack Dandy from the shady end of London who's charming and wonderfully flirtatious. There's such a plentiful variety of characters that there's at least one which everyone can enjoy. There's the good-natured American cowboy, Jasper, who has a wicked good shot. And tall, almost brutish Sam. The gorgeously chilly and aristocratic Griffin. Together they put forth entertaining and fun scenes, filled with comical banter and emotion that really made me feel connected to each and every one of them.

But, most of all, I fell for Finley Jayne. Emotionally speaking, I could feel her turmoil over her split personality, that not knowing what the darker side of herself was capable of. It was that same shadow half that me so utterly excited and eager to keep reading. It's not a lie when the synopsis describes Finley being capable of knocking out a full-grown man, and that's not all she can do. Watching this girl, living in semi-modernized Victorian era, take on opponents more than twice her size and enemies much stronger and/or cleverer than she without fear but with a bloodthirsty expression, I became a major fan of Finley. This Jekyll-Mr.Hyde thing going on with her makes her the most intriguing, most incredible character of them all! I lived for Finley's fight scenes. At the same time, she wasn't without feeling. She could feel guilt, pain, and anguish and that soothed me in that I was reassured she wasn't vicious and cold-blooded. A good person. Just a kick-ass one.

Then, could it have been the romance?

Again, that would be no. There was actually two love triangleish romances happening in this story, but despite my liking all involved, I know who I want to be paired up. There wasn't a single point where it felt rushed or unsatisfying. One couple seemed to have had feelings for each other since forever, but it still felt like SLOW BURN while I was reading this. And while the main couple didn't move forward enough to satisfy me, I was okay with that. Because at least I didn't end up with a non-developed and cliche instaluv that would've totally turned me off to the book altogether. Instead, the interconnected romances fueled my reading pace and motivated me to keep going with the book even when I started to get bored.

The only logical conclusion, then, would be that the plot wasn't as well-done as I'd've liked it to be. Which was exactly the case. This story is set in steampunkish Victorian era, and that in itself was fascinating in its own right--seemingly mindless automatons roaming around, a technologically-inclined villain responsible for numerous random attacks across London. So, this book should've been much more thrilling than it actually was. Something about the mystery and the elusive villain propelling it didn't appeal to me, didn't make me want to keep going with this story. It took me three days, THREE days to finally finishing reading this, and all I could think about, at first, is what it was lacking: a gripping plot. I got bored way too quickly. And by the time the ending came about, I had a Shrug My Shoulders And Say, Eh kind of reaction to it.

Still, mostly for the characters, I'm curious to see how this series will continue. I guess I'll have to wait and see what Cross comes up with next...

Finley went from sitting demurely in her chair to seizing Lady Marsden by the throat, lifting her, the fingers of her right hand like claws, itching to tear out those damnable mocking eyes. Behind her, her mother and stepfather cried out, but neither made a move to stop her.
"Would you like to know what I'm thinking now?" Finley asked, almost fully controlled by her darker nature. She could snap this woman's frail neck.
Lady Marsden's eyes widened, but she made no other move. Finley felt a slight push againt her mind--a sweet voice cajoling her to let go. Mentally, she squashed it like a bug beneath her boot. Crunchy. 
The marchioness winced. One would think the silly woman would know better by now.
Finley smiled. "You annoy me, your ladyship. In a most vexing manner."

He couldn't support his own weight at all, the stubborn liar. She bent down and put her other arm beneath his knees, sweeping him off his feet into her arms, carrying him like a child toward the top side of the pool.
"Finley," he said.
"Yes, Griffin?"
"Put me down, please." There was laughter in his voice. 
She looked at him. Their faces were so close she really could kiss him if she wanted. He had quite nice lips, and right now they were smiling at her. "Please," he said again. "As nice as this is, I refuse to be carried into my own home by a girl who weighs a good three stones less than I."
Heat had nothing to do with the steam filled her cheeks. "Sorry."


Liz. R said...

Aw, it's a shame the plot wasn't as well done as it could have been! It sounds like this could have been a really great book if maybe it were a bit faster-paced. Glad you still managed to enjoy parts of it though. Thanks for the review! :)

Cait said...

I really agree with you about this. The characters and romances were perfect but the plot did let it down. Great review

The Cait Files

A. Knight said...

Liz- Exactly! If the whole thing had felt more urgent, more disastrous like apocalyptic-bad then maybe I would've thrown myself more into the story and really enjoyed it. Maybe that'll change as far as the next one...

Cait- Thanks! If the plot had been as wonderful as the characters and their romances then this book definitely would've made my favorites list. :(

April (Books&Wine) said...

I'm totally a character person, so I wonder if I would take a long time to read Steel Corset, or if I would be bored by the plot.

Either way I still look forward to it, even if the plot is a bit slow.

A. Knight said...

Yeah, I know what you mean--I'm mostly a character person, which is why I kept going with the book even though I was a bit bored by what was going. Still, I hope you enjoy it!