Review: Innocence & Carnality by J. Alan Veerkamp

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.

What. A. Delight!

I read the blurb so long ago that I forgot the blurb and that actually turned out to be a great thing. Going in blind and letting Veerkamp take you on the journey of Nathan from innocent ingenue to fierce force to be reckoned with is the way to go, thus I'm going to keep this SUPER short.

The entire story is told from Nathan's perspective and I have to be honest, initially I underestimated him. I thought he was vapid milquetoast. I've never been more thrilled to be wrong. He may have been married off as a 'trophy wife' but he is a quick study and all that time spent watching his trophy wife of a mother equipped him with a few tricks up his sleeve.

Innocence & Carnality is story driven with several turns in the narrative that surprised me and the way the narrative came together at the end was nothing short of inspired. (Trigger warning for abuse & violence.) However, several of the characters popped off the page as well. Strong female characters are always a win with me and Veerkamp delivered more than one all set in a historical steampunkish AU setting. If you're averse to steampunk, it's not overly steampunky.

I don't want to give away the romance but it was divine. I had to wait for it to come together but it was worth the wait. Soooooo worth it. Directly into my wheelhouse, it went.

As a shameless plea to the author,  I would be overjoyed were there to be another book in this universe.

Highly recommended!

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

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