Wildcat turned her attention to Finley. "I know you. You're the one that was here with the Irish witch."
"She would prefer to be called a scientist" came Finley's drawled reply. "I'll give her your regards."
The dark girl turned back to Jasper. "She's almost as much a smart-arse as you. She all you brought?"
"I got a driver, but he'd rather see me dead that do me a favor." Then he grinned. 'But if you know my friend, you know she's enough."
The girl nodded, grime-streaked face serious. "All right, then. You know what has to be done." And then she stepped across the threshold, a baseball bat in her hands. Its wood was smooth and stained brown with old blood. A dozen other girls and fellas followed after her- some armed, some not.
"Jasper?" Finley asked warily. "What the devil's going on?"
He turned to her with what he hoped was a suitably apologetic expression. "When I left the piece with Wildcat, she told me if I ever came back she'd 'beat the snot out of me.'" Technically, he hadn't left he part with Cat. It had gotten left behind when she kicked him out. He was simply relived she still had it.
Finley's eyes widened. "Are you telling me we have to fight? All of them?" she gestured at the gang standing in the street behind Wildcat.
Jasper nodded. "That's exactly what I'm saying."
Jasper Renn, taken back to America from the Greythorne estate supposedly to answer for a murder in San Francisco, has disappeared into the hands of his former friend, Reno Dalton. Held against his will, Dalton wants to Jasper to piece back together a machine they stole together- a wondrously evil machine that can change a man's fortune, or a thief's life- and Jasper's former love Mei is being used against him to make him cooperate. One false move from either of them, and the clockwork collar around her neck tightens. And tightens. Griffen, Finley, Sam, and Emily are in New York trying to help from the outside (and inside as well) but can they figure out what the machine is, and what they can do to help Jasper and Mei, and stop Dalton, before time is up?
The second installment in Kady Cross' Steampunk Chronicles finds the reader transported from 1897 London to New York, where evil is lurking in former friends, and betrayal is in surprising places. Moving faster than The Girl in the Steel Corset (mainly because the author assumes you know about the world by now), Griffen and his "special branch" move into the Waldorf Astoria and infiltrate New York society (both high and low) in order to find Jasper, and thwart Dalton and his master plan. The team still doesn't quite trust each other yet, and the triangles in the first book carry over into the second, adding tension. Growing abilities, and the work of Dr. Telsa and his machinery add to the danger as well. Readers interested in ties to New York in the late 1800's could read The Luxe series, while steampunkers would definitely feel a tie for the Leviathan and Airborn series with the emergence of Tesla in this book. 3.5 stars out of 5. Goodreads has Girl in the Clockwork Collar rated at 4.08 stars as of February 10, 2013.
I enjoyed Clockwork Collar a little more and a little less that Steel Corset for different reasons. I wanted more character building of the original characters, and Clockwork Collar is more Jasper's story- even though we get more of Finley and Griffin's relationship and their bumps about trusting each other, it's all about Jasper's back story. For a character who will not be continuing on, I wish that the focus was somewhere other than Mei- and I know what was going on with her about a third of the way through the book, so to be proven right made a difference I think. I loved Finely's and Emily's relationship, and the more hints and reveals about Emily's past, that made me love the book more. I like that both Finley and Emily can take care of themselves, and that is made abundantly clear throughout the book- in fact, there is no shortage of female characters throughout this series that can take care of themselves.
I didn't like that Griffin made excuses for how he treated both Finley and Emily (there's a passage in the book when Finley confronts him where he silently justifies to himself that that's the way he was brought up)- hopefully he's broken of that train of thought quite quickly. I also didn't like that the author didn't quite explain what was going on with Griffin's abilities, or Telsa's inventions, or the malformations in the Aether, but I can hope that there will be more books to come that will assuage my curiosities. I'm itchy when there are unresolved plot points in a book.