This book was a total surprise, for me. I was offered a copy to review and took it because I’ve been eager to read more Steampunk and the blurb/cover drew me in. When I first began reading, I was a little skeptical but was soon sucked into the story. Then it only got better, the more I read of it.
I’m now a firm fan and, if the author writes more in this world, I’ll be first in line for more.
Innocence is his only currency.
The gilded cage of propriety where Nathan grew up as a member of the Deilian aristocracy became a true prison when, at fifteen, his homosexuality came to light and created a terrible scandal. His parents see only one way to preserve their reputation amongst the other noble families: fit Nathan with a chastity belt to increase his value to a potential partner and marry him off as soon as possible.
The recipient of that prize is Lord Rother Marsh Delaga III. After a hasty wedding, Rother whisks Nathan away to the strange and seductive land of Marisol, where Nathan will begin a new life, free to explore the pleasures of the marriage bed, though his life is still not his own.
But Rother’s Delaga House is a place of secrets, dangers, and depravity Nathan can scarcely comprehend. Where friends are few and peril waits around every corner, Nathan must employ all the manipulation he learned from high society, along with his talent for clockwork. Most of all, Nathan must adapt, compromise to survive, and cast off the preconceptions of his homeland.
Because only he can orchestrate his freedom, and it’ll come at a cost.
While spending years more focused on visual arts, J. Alan Veerkamp never let go of his innate passion for storytelling, wanting to write and draw comic books when he grew up. Once he discovered M/M fiction, a whole new world opened filled with possibilities. Why couldn’t you have fantastic and dynamic sexy tales with an M/M cast? He started reading the online tales of authors like, Night Tempest, Rob Colton, and Alicia Nordwell, which only fueled his need to create. Eventually he found GayAuthors.org, and with a little coercive nudge, started sharing his tales with an unexpected level of positive response. The experience and support gave him the courage to cross his fingers and aim for the world of M/M publishing.
Born and raised in Michigan, J. Alan continues to type away, wishing it was practical to use an noisy, old fashioned keyboard that clacks with each strike, if just to annoy his loving partner and spoiled miniature dachshund.
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK FOR MY READING PLEASURE **
Reviewed for Divine Magazine
Innocence and Carnality, by J. Alan Veerkamp
POV: 1st person, one character
Content Warning: violence, cheating, domestic abuse, brothel that caters to BDSM/age play etc off page, May/Dec
Innocence and Carnality is an intricate web of plots, lies, twists and turns. It’s full of intrigue and deception. It’s about Nathan as a boy becoming a man, as a man becoming a husband, and as a noble casting off the lessons of his upbringing to forge his own path. And I loved every second of it!
I can’t even describe to you how I feel about it. This book was…everything it said it was in the blurb, and so much more! It was just…everything. It was steampunk, it was historical victoriana, it was surprising, shocking, laugh-out-loud, charming, feisty, melted pages, and somehow still managed to be dark and edgy and everything I didn’t know I wanted, when I started reading.
It has some dark themes, for sure, but nothing that a neophyte like me couldn’t handle, because I just don’t read dark. But I did read this book. I read it and I’m buying the paperback so that I can read it again. It’s got control, manipulation, blackmail, cheating, domestic abuse, and a brothel that caters to all sorts, including age play and BDSM. There’s a May/Dec romance and the struggles of class, age, and social standing. Of looking beyond yourself and what is familiar to adapt to the new. Of accepting a huge change and not falling apart. And, there is violence. It’s not excessive, but you need to know its there.
First off, I have to confess that I was a bit on the fence during the first 5%. I wasn’t overly keen on Nathan, who was a bit whiny and useless. He couldn’t take care of himself, he was naive and innocent and ignorant of so much. He was placid at times, feisty and sarcastic at others, and I didn’t know what to make of them.
Then in walked Rother. The brutal efficiency of their arranged marriage, the steaming chemistry between this older man and innocent virgin, and the subtle word play they exchanged was amazing. I could feel this sizzle between them from the first instant, but I also felt a little bit something dark and broody, something improper and beyond Nathan’s understanding in Rother.
When it comes to characters, I fell HARD for Nathan. I mean, things started off shaky, then he grew on me and now he’s this precious feisty little puppy that grew into a wolf and I feel all mama-bear proud of him for that. I fell madly in love with Harston and I would want him to have his own book if that last chapter didn’t just give me exactly what I wanted. I can’t even begin to explain to you how I feel about Blythe, except to say…I want one! He can be my shadow any day of the week.
Things took a shocking turn at about 30-40% and I knew exactly what I wanted to happen and, for once, the author gave me EVERYTHING I wanted and more. If it was a murder mystery, you would say that I guessed the killer at this point, because I was spot on. But it wasn’t predictable. It was just what I wanted for Nathan. What he deserved! That poor baby was so friggin’ brave and strong and amazing that he deserved everything he got to have, in the end.
Beyond that…my lips are sealed!
Yup. I’m not telling you anything, because 1) you wouldn’t believe me 2) you have to read it for yourself 3) you NEED to experience this roller-coaster of emotion firsthand and 4) there are so many twists, turns and sneaky little pieces of darkness that talking about what they are or where they lead would be cruel. I’d be denying you the experience of reading this book. And I won’t do that.
You. Need. To. Read. This. Book!
“The day’s horror bled out of me with his touch, his possessive want. I wasn’t a victim anymore. I wasn’t the pawn in a criminal pissing match. I was the man losing himself to a passion I’d never been given permission to ask for, and I accepted it with abandon.”