Gilded Hearts by Christine D'Abo (Shadow Guild #1)

***** GIVEAWAY!! *****
The publisher will be giving away one ebook of Gilded Hearts!! 
Please leave a comment below for a chance to win!! 
Samuel Hawkins, Sergeant in the King's Sentry, has been called in to investigate a murder case. As he awaits the Archivists to arrive—the team who will use a special device to extract the memories of the dead man to help find clues to his murder—he never expects to come face to face with the woman he'd left behind when he'd fled the Archives five years earlier.

Piper Smith has grown from the girl Samuel remembered into a strong woman and full-fledged archivist. Shadowed by her mentor, Master Ryerson, Piper will be performing her first extraction. When she sees Samuel, she must push aside her childhood crush, else risk her standing within the Guild.

As the two begin working together to find the killer, Samuel and Piper explore their intense attraction to each other. But "Jack the Ripper" proves to be harder to catch than the two originally thought. What's worse, they discover he may very well work for the Archives. Now, Samuel and Piper must battle internal and external threats as they try to foil a plot against the Crown and stop Jack the Ripper from taking his next victim.
Knocking softly, she didn’t wait for Samuel to acknowledge before jerking the door open and stepping inside.
         “I wanted to make sure you were all right.” The words came out in a rush, only to die when she looked up to see him standing there, naked from the waist up. The muscles of his stomach rippled beneath the surface of his skin as he twisted around. Her eyes drifted across the light hair that covered his chest and trailed down to disappear beneath his trousers. Her mouth dried, and she fought the urge to lick her lips. There wasn’t a part of him that was soft, that she didn’t want to run her fingers across. “I’m not certain the antidote David gave you will work.”
         Samuel tossed the shirt he was still holding to the corner of the room. “I’m already feeling more myself. Despite his appearance of being scattered, David’s mind is sharp and his knowledge of chemistry and mechanics is second to no one.”
         “Ah. Excellent.” She was blushing again, dammit. She never embarrassed this easily. “I guess there’s no reason for me to disturb you then. Good night.”
         “Wait, Pip.”
         Keeping her back to him, she couldn’t move as he came up behind her. Heat from his body warmed her back. “I should go.”

         “I don’t want you to.”

5 steampunk stars*****

I actually think that this book is being promoted under the wrong category on netgalley. It's labeled as erotica, and even though there are a couple of sex scenes in the book, I think those looking for straight up erotica might be a little disappointed that it is actually MOSTLY a sci-fi/fantasy story. Being familiar with the steampunk world in general is also a plus. A bit of reader patience is needed in the beginning so that you can wrap your head around this world that the author has created. Once I got the world and characters all sorted out the story just grabbed me and held on to the end. That entails my only complaint really is that I felt the story needed more background info... maybe a prologue or something to help the reader get their head wrapped around the setting. It was mildly confusing...
Piper and Sam were plucked from their families as children and brought to the archive facility to be trained to be archivists. The job of an archivist is to extract the memories of the deceased for storage. This information is gathered and used for various reasons... and sometimes helps to solve crimes.
There are a few dark secrets lurking in the archive facility that are a little shocking and disturbing. Most of this we find out towards the end.
This is very much a story that dabbles with the concept of God vs. Science. Some people believe that the archive is in essence stealing souls while others believe there is no such thing. A moral battle of sorts. Many people fear the extraction at their time of death because they want their souls to be set free and not trapped.
I was very touched by Piper's reaction when she was holding on to the memories of one of the murdered prostitutes to gather data. The prostitute kept insisting she was alive and it brought out conflicting emotions for Piper. It was also one of my favorite parts of the book because the prostitute was having a little fun while visiting her mind and had a bit of fun whispering naughty thoughts and suggestions into Piper's head. The expression "shut up" was used quite a lot. And nope, she didn't listen... just kept taunting her anyway.
There is also a serial killer on the loose and by the end of the book it becomes clear that there is much more to this serial killer than everyone realized. Without giving anything away, it all revolves around the secrets of what is actually going on in the facility.
We learn a lot about Sam and Pip as the story moves back and forth from past to present. They connected as children and now that they are all grown up... their attraction and love for each other blossoms. I loved both of these characters and I really wanted their Happily Ever After.
My favorite character was David (smile)... the quirky and extremely intelligent clockwerker who has an occasional tendency to "accidentally" blow things up. But, he mostly gets it right. His character added a little comedy relief to the story.
This book was at times emotional, other times funny and kept me on the edge of my seat. I'm definitely on board for more. This is a stand alone but there is a book two coming. It's on my list! This author is a very talented and creative writer.
Not sure if I would recommend this as erotica but I would definitely recommend to my fantasy and sci-fi loving folks that like a little romance sprinkled into the mix. This was a nice healthy balance of all the things that I personally love in a book.

ARC provided by Forever Publishing via netgalley

Click HERE for my review of book two in this series...  Quicksilver Soul!


  1. Ooh! This one is on my list. :) Glad you enjoyed and I also adore steampunk, so keeping my fingers crossed for the giveaway. Thanks.

  2. Nice review

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