Book 48 of 2015: Nefertiti’s Heart by A.W. Exley

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Librarian’s note: Alternate cover edition of ASIN B00BFTMRBA.
A steampunk adventure with a serial killer, romance, and a few broken hearts.
Cara Devon has always suffered curiosity and impetuousness, but tangling with a serial killer might cure that. Permanently.
London, 1861. Impoverished noble Cara has a simple mission after the strange death of her father – sell off his damned collection of priceless artifacts. Her plan goes awry when aristocratic beauties start dying of broken hearts, an eight inch long brass key hammered through their chests. A killer hunts amongst the nobility, searching for a regal beauty and an ancient Egyptian relic rumored to hold the key to immortality.
Her Majesty’s Enforcers are in pursuit of the murderer and they see a connection between the gruesome deaths and Cara. So does she, somewhere in London her father hid Nefertiti’s Heart, a fist sized diamond with strange mechanical workings. Adding further complication to her life, notorious crime lord, Viscount Nathaniel Lyons is relentless in his desire to lay his hands on Cara and the priceless artifact. If only she could figure out his motive.
Self-preservation fuels Cara’s search for the gem. In a society where everyone wears a mask to hide their true intent, she needs to figure out who to trust, before she makes a fatal mistake.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, for an honest review.

Nefertiti’s Heart is the first book in a series of four steampunk adventure books staring Cara Devon and Nathaniel Lyons. Anything steampunk and I’m willing to give it a try. Despite the minimalistic cover, this book was very enjoyable. I finished the whole thing in a day, I was in the book.

The first thing I noticed was how awesome Cara Devon was. She is a young woman who was born into society, but because of terrible circumstances, she never debuted. Does this ruin her outlook on life? Oh no, this woman is a force to be reckoned with. She is strong, in your face, and very much like a Lara Croft of the steampunk world. I love her. I love how cocky she can seem even in the face of danger and insecurity. I love that she is innovative and thinks on the balls of her feet. And what’s better, she boxes. She’s a female character I love to bow down to. Balls to the wall female leads make me so giddy.

The second thing I noticed was how deliciously sexy and scary Nathaniel Lyons is. He isn’t a good guy. Really, he isn’t. And I don’t think he’d be good for every female, but he’s amazing with Cara. I feel that he is an equal with her. He has just as much of a dark and twisted history that is only mentioned in this book, but it may show up later.

I want to liken this book as a mix of Lara Croft, Urban archeology, and steampunk. The artifacts in this book aren’t just nifty old things, they have something more to them. It was reminiscient to Warehouse 13 in that respect. The items are both dangerous and exotic. On top of that, not everyone who wants them are good people.

And that’s where I seguey to the main plot. There are a series of murders that the local inspector is connecting to Cara Devon. The problem is, she doesn’t know why. Exley writes amazing scenes where the serial killer is at work. I actually cringed at the details. I don’t usually cringe, but I did with this book. It wasn’t enough to stop me from reading it, but it was enough to make me want more from Exley.

This book seemed to have it all in perfect porportions and made me hungry for more. The characters are well written with their dark histories. The past helped develop them, but has by no means made them victims. The disturbing and psychotic serial killer was thrilling. The romance was hot and made me ship them. I’m not a big shipper, but when I do ship, I am willing to go down with it. This is a must read for people who love action, romance, and a bit of magic.

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