In A Clockwork Heart, the second book in The Chronicles of Light and Shadow series, author Liesel Schwarz combines steampunk and urban fantasy, and its result is Elle Chance and Hugh Marsh in their honeymoon period after the events of the first book A Conspiracy of Alchemists. Elle, the newly minted Countess Greychester, is fighting to keep her independence in flying as well as manage being the Oracle and a wife to Hugh, newly retired from the Council of Warlocks. To keep busy while Elle's away taking charters, Hugh takes on a case of a nobleman's missing son and then becomes missing himself. All the while, there are reports of strange beings lumbering about in the night with a ticking coming from their chests.
Elle, along with the Nightwalker Loisa, have to track down Hugh. When they find him, they find his heart has been replaced with a clockwork mechanism and he is not quite himself. Elle and Loisa must find Hugh's heart before it is too late.
I read the first book in the series and was mostly entertained by it, which is surprising because I'm not a steampunk fan. I had also tried Gail Carriger's Soulless, which is similarly steampunk and urban fantasy combined, but found it to be not my speed.
I enjoy Elle's character, as she's generally snarky and stubborn (something I can relate to), as well as the fairy Adele and her temper tantrums. I could have done without the "your place is by my side" routine from Hugh, however. He knew Elle was a pilot when he met her. Hell, that's the whole reason they meet in the first book. This is definitely one of the faults of the period, but if we're trying for some enlightenment in the era, this would have been a good place to start. Her friend, Ducky, doesn't make it any better when he threatens to "put you over my knee and spank you for being a brat." Wow, really?
I would have liked to see more of Elle learning to be an Oracle and strengthening her powers. Little was spent on it, and it seemed, while she has some knowledge of it, watching her learn to harness her powers would have been nice.
The general plot was interesting, which distracted me from the sexism in the beginning of the book. Loisa was a great partner for Elle on her search for Hugh and then his heart. I would love to hear her story at some point, and if she and Elle partnered up in future books, I'd be okay with it.
Library Bag: I was left wanting more, so I'll probably read the next. The author was able to surprise me with the ending by not tying everything up in a nice neat bow. However, there was something missing that I can't put my finger on to elevate it to a Bookshelf read. It was probably sexism, but I think it was more than that.
*Review is based on a galley received from netgalley.com.