From Publisher’s Website

In the gleaming heights of Victorian London, a world of deception awaits an unconventional Society lady whose taste for adventure makes her a most formidable adversary . . .

Though Society demands that I make a good marriage, I, Cherry St. Croix, have neither the time nor the interest. I am on the trail of a murder with no victim, a mystery with no motive, and the key to an alchemical formula that could be my family’s legacy.

Yet the world is not so kind as to let me pursue simple murder and uncomplicated bounties. Above the foggy drift, an earl insists on my attention, while my friends watch my increasingly desperate attempts to remain my own woman. From the silken demands of the Midnight Menagerie—to whose dangerously seductive ringmaster I owe a debt—to the rigorous pressures of the peerage, all are conspiring to place before me a choice that will forever change my life.

My Review:

Ms. Cooper has landed herself in on an elite list of authors who have made me cry with their stories. The other members of this list are Diana Gabaldon (multiple times with her Outlander series, Sherrilyn Kenyon (Acheron), and Karen Marie Moning (Dark Highlander ). Like I said, an elite list.

This was my first Steampunk from Ms. Cooper, and I enjoyed immensely. I read most of it in one night. I didn’t realize that this was the second book in the St. Croix Chronicles. Never once did I feel that I needed to go read the first book (Tarnished) to enjoy this one. Ms. Cooper did a wonderful job of giving information to those of us who skipped the first book.

The imagery and setting that you have in Ms. Cooper’s Victorian London. You feel like you are with Cherry in the drift, feeling suffocated by the smog and smells of the lower levels of society. You understand and empathize with the plight of those who are stuck below, not just in a societal class system sense but also in reality. When the smog started to overtake the posh neighborhoods of London, the Queen had parts of London lifted above the smog on stilts. Which left people behind and below in a place called the drift, never able to escape the smog. The smog hid not just the middle class and the poor, but also crime. Lots of crime, especially murder. In the drift, just about anything happens. There is murder, theft, brothels, “escorts” called sweets, opium dens and other drug offerings, and many gangs. It is a rich world that was created by a brilliant mind.

The character of Cherry St. Croix is a very complex character. She isn’t title but is an upper class member of society, even with the taint of her father’s madness following her. Cherry is intelligent and fascinated by science and debating the pros and cons with her best friend. But she has a dark side. To fight off the memories of the abuse she suffered in the drift at the hands of her own father, she relies on laudanum to sleep and sometimes to get through the day. But there is a small problem with this habit. The small stipend she receives from her guardian (who holds the key to her inheritance until she is 21) isn’t enough to by the laudanum. So to get the money for her drugs, she works in the drift as a collector, a type of bounty hunter. But because of another debt to a gang, not always does she get paid. At night she sneaks out of her house and spends hours in the drift. Trouble does find her, but for the most part collectors are left alone, much like clergy in war zones.

I’m not going to spill any more on this story. You will just have to get the book and read it. Come back and let me know if you cried also while reading this book.

I give Gilded a 5 Horseshoe rating.

Gilded is available from Amazon Print in Kindle editions.

Publication Details:

Author Karina Cooper
Title Gilded
Format Ebook
Length 384 Pages
Publication Date December 2012
Publisher Avon Books
ISBN 978-0-0621-2766-2