Release Date: December 26, 2012
Published by: Avon
Source: ARC provided by Edelweiss
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.
Gilded, the second installment in the St. Croix Chronicles, was a more emotional story than the debut with strong character development and a heartbreaking ending that left me speechless.
Cherry finds herself involved in a search for a murderer, trying to discover the identity of the collector who has taken a disturbing interest in her, and attempting to uncover her mad father's secrets.
We learned in the series' debut that Cherry is a bold and spirited protagonist who greatly values her independence. She ignores the pressures from society and her chaperone, Fanny, to tie herself to a man by marrying him. She has no need of an arrangement for financial or emotional gain and cares little about what others think when it comes to her single, unwed status.
I could not stop myself from doing what I did best. I was a collector. I took to the streets for coin and adventure, it's simply what I did. Because the alternative -find a husband, marry- robbed me of breath. Of freedom.
All of these beliefs and values are tested by the return of a man she didn't expect to see again. Earl Compton reappears with little explanation for his absence and a renewed determination in pursuing a relationship with Cherry. But with Compton's attention comes his mother's disapproval and Cherry must deal with the torment of social vipers determined to demean and humiliate her.
Along with these complications, Cherry is also struggling with her laudanum addiction and the nightmares and lack of sleep caused by her need of a larger supply.
It seems as if she can't catch a break and I'm hoping that somehow circumstances will begin to turn in her favor. She'll have a long way to go and there are many problems left to solve, but I adore Cherry and will be rooting for her all the way. I've become emotionally invested in her story's outcome and I'm anxious to see what Cooper will deliver next.
Fans of dark steampunk mysteries, the St. Croix Chronicles is a must-read.
I had gone to heaven, and it was a place mad with books.