March 2, 2013

Legacy of the Clockwork Key Blog Tour: Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

Legacy of the Clockwork Key (The Secret Order #1)
Author: Kristin Bailey
Genre: YA Fantasy/Mystery/Steampunk
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse


A teen girl unravels the mysteries of a secret society and their most dangerous invention in this adventure-swept romance set in Victorian London.

When a fire consumes Meg’s home, killing her parents and destroying both her fortune and her future, all she has left is the tarnished pocket watch she rescued from the ashes. But this is no ordinary timepiece. The clock turns out to be a mechanical key—a key that only Meg can use—that unlocks a series of deadly secrets and intricate clues that Meg is compelled to follow.

Meg has uncovered evidence of an elite secret society and a dangerous invention that some will stop at nothing to protect—and that Meg alone can destroy. Together with the handsome stable hand she barely knows but hopes she can trust, Meg is swept into a hidden world of deception, betrayal, and revenge. The clockwork key has unlocked her destiny in this captivating start to a trilogy.

Legacy of the Clockwork Key is the first book in a young adult fantasy/mystery trilogy that follows our leading lady, Margaret "Meg" Whitlock as she desperately tries to pick up the pieces after her parents are killed in a fire. She is given employment by a mysterious friend of her family's - whom she's never known - as a house maid. The only thing she has left to remember her family by is an old watch she salvaged after the fire. She seeks out the groom - Will - one night to help her fix the watch she holds so dear. Except they find that her watch is anything but one - it's actually an intricate key. A key that contains more secrets than answers and is also the only thing that can end a deadly mystery that threatens to destroy Meg and everything she holds dear. 

This was a really fun and intriguing book. There are lots of steampunk aspects to the story, which I found to be incredibly fascinating and whimsical. I haven't read much steampunk fiction before, so I really loved being drawn into this magical world the author created. The characters were interesting and definitely had their own personalities. I felt instantly connected to Meg. Her pain and guilt over her parent's death basically dictates her life - she can't seem to escape it. Yet, she finds herself at the center of a scary mystery - her very destiny - and she doesn't think twice. She experiences some great character growth in the book and I hope that it continues into the next one too. Will is a great love interest, even though he can seem a bit cliched at times. Handsome yet aloof, a heart of gold beneath his rough exterior - a guy doomed by his social station in life. But I still liked him - he seemed to grow on me as the story went on. The plot itself is a fun mystery that I enjoyed trying to figure out along with the characters. I absolutely LOVED reading about the different inventions and amusements in the book, along with reading about the history of the order. I hope to see more into this world in the next installment too. It adds a unique aspect to the story, which I feel gave it added depth and interest. The writing was great, although the book took a chapter or two to really take off. Once it got going though, it didn't slow down. I liked the pace of the book - not too fast and not too slow as to be boring. Overall, this was a fantastic first book of what promises to be an enchantingly captivating trilogy. Highly recommended!

"Jump!" Will shouted. I leapt as hard as I could, but my skirt caught, twisting me before we splashed into a watery ditch to the side of the road. I struggled under the carriage, but couldn't pull myself up. I could barely keep my mouth above the water. I tried to breathe but the muddy dreck filled my mouth.

I tried to push my way out, but my hands sank into the soft mud of the ditch. I couldn't lift my head. I panicked, afraid I'd taken my last breath.

Strong hands grasped me under the arms and yanked. I choked as my head burst above the water, but my skirts were caught beneath the wreck.

"Hold on," Will urged as he kept my head up. I clung to his wet sleeve as he came around to the front of me and pulled. I kicked at the wreckage, struggling to get free. I felt my skirts ripping along the seam at my knee as Will pulled.

Whatever I was caught on broke loose, and Will tumbled backward, pulling me on top of him. I felt the heat of his body through the cold water, even as he lifted me up so I could grab on to the roots overhanging the edge of the bank. I scrambled up the bank, with the long loop of the ripped hem of my skirt and petticoat slogging about my feet.

"Are you harmed?" Will was beside me in a moment as I coughed and sputtered. "Were you crushed?"

He gripped my exposed knee right where the ribbon from the bottom ruffle of my drawers tied. The wet cotton of my thin stockings clung to my skin, becoming transparent. 

My heart beat heavy in my chest as I stared at his hands clasped about my knee. They felt so warm and strong, and I could feel the firm pressure of his touch deep within me.

His eyes met mine, and I could have sworn I became part of the puddle. "Does this hurt?" he asked. His voice deepened, yet sounded softer than I'd ever heard it.

"No," I answered, though I hardly made a sound. I couldn't stop looking at his hands.

They slid down my exposed stocking, smoothing over the leather of my boot. His thumb brushed over the long line of buttons closing the leather in a curving seam along the inside of my ankle. His large hands clasped around my foot. I became aware of how delicate and shapely my ankle looked wrapped in the sleek black leather and resting in the strength of his hands. My heart stopped and I couldn't find my breath.

"How about this?" His eyes burned into mine.

Kristin Bailey grew up in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley in California. As a kid she enjoyed visiting the beach, camping and skiing with her two brothers.
Now she is a military wife and mother of two young children. She is also terrible about spoiling her pets. She has one fluffy mutt, two cats who think they own the world, and a fish tank with a quartet of fat fish, and two secretive striped ninja-assassin snails.
In the course of her adventures, she has worked as a zookeeper, balloon artist, and substitute teacher. Now she enjoys writing books for teens who enjoy mystery and adventure as much as she does.

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