The Empty Hourglass by Cornelia Grey

The Empty Hour GlassRate: 4.5 stars
Genre: Steampunk
Publication day: April 11, 2016
Length:  264 pages
Publisher: Angler Fish Press

Thomas Escott has always wanted to be a toymaker, yet just as he achieves his dream, an accident claims his right hand. He’s certain his life is over—until he hears about groundbreaking prosthetics being made by a reclusive inventor.

Jethro Hastings is perfectly content to live alone up in the mountains working on a secret masterpiece: a humanoid automaton that will change the scientific community forever. He’s behind schedule, and the date of the unveiling is fast approaching, so when Thomas shows up on his doorstep offering help in exchange for a mechanical hand, Jethro agrees. Time, after all, is running out on another deal he’s made: one with the devil.

The devil gives Jethro’s inventions life, but he can just as quickly take life away—Jethro’s, to be exact. As the sand in the devil’s hourglass falls, marking the time until the end of the deal, inventions go haywire, people get hurt, and Thomas realizes he needs Jethro just as much as his prosthetic. Now he must find a way to save Jethro’s soul, but negotiating with a devil is just as difficult as it sounds.

My View: I enjoyed the uniqueness of this story. It reminded me a bit of watching Tales From the Crypt or The Twilight Zone when I was younger. It was a little cheesy, quite interesting, and different from my everyday read. Now that Steampunk is creating a niche in MM Romance, The Empty Hourglass fits well.

This story is listed as part of the Dance with the Devil series, but it can be read as a stand-alone. What they had in common is the bargain one of the characters do with the devil. In this case, Jethro. We get to know about it through Thomas who is the narrator in the story and directly from the devil itself.

It’s been a while since I read a book with such a strong beginning. With only a handful of pages, we get to know the basics of Thomas’s life and how it was changed by the events in his lab. I found the story intriguing and the author did an excellent job creating a thrilling story. I was pleasantly surprised by some events and the connections between the characters.

The MCs don’t live in a bubble. There’s love, friendship, and magnificent inventions. The author created a nice group of secondary characters to help us understand Jethro’s and Thomas’s actions. The world build is good even when a little underdeveloped, and the HEA perfect for the book.

There were a couple of things I wanted more from, like Mina’s background, Franz’s issues with Thomas’s, and Jethro’s point of view. Overall, it was a simple read with interesting characters and a string of events that felt different from other current offerings. The romance is understated but important, as well as the rest of the MCs’ relationships.

What I liked the most: How easy Jethro and Thomas worked together.

I wanted more of: A struggle between evil and good.

Who should read it: Anyone looking for something more than a romance with a simple setting.

ARC courtesy of Angler Fish Press, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.


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