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    REVIEW: The Doctor by C.S. Poe

    Magic & Steam: The Doctor – C.S. Poe

    1882—Gillian Hamilton, magic caster and Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Magic and Steam, has been stripped of his title, badge, and freedom. Gillian’s true name and powers have been exposed, so now he’s kept under lock and key. To make a tragedy worse, Gunner the Deadly has returned to his life out in the Wild West and has not been heard from since.

    Rumors of a doctor, known only as Sawbones, with access to illegal magic have persisted into the new year. Gillian believes that violence, chaos, and certain death will befall New York City if this criminal isn’t apprehended. And despite having lost his sense of purpose, Gillian knows he’s the only one capable of confronting this new madman—with or without the backing of the FBMS.

    But such dangers should never be undertaken alone. Gillian will need both Gunner’s deadeye marksmanship, as well as his love, if he’s to detain Sawbones before irreparable damage is done to the magic of his world.

    After The Gangster‘s cliffhanger hit like Gillian’s thunderbolts, The Doctor became one of my most anticipated books. The 3rd installment of the spectacular steampunk series, Magic & Steam, starts with things on an all-time low for our favorite special agent and magic caster, Gillian Hamilton.

    In fact it was so abysmally bad, I thought there should be a misery rating similar to the heat rating for sex, just so we’re warned. Gillian’s true identity was exposed. He is now in a maximum security mental asylum in Blackwell’s island, a hell hole where the mad, a.k.a rogue magic casters, were left under the tender mercies of the sadistic staff. He has attempted escape several times, even gotten very close to doing so. The latest attempt landed him in a straitjacket in solitary confinement.

    These events would have been bearable, but Gillian’s self-flagellatory thoughts and the overall tone of pure misery made things infinitely more wretched; they pulled me out of the story completely. C.S. Poe did such a masterful job making me feel Gillian’s plight that I felt a heavy weight on my chest, like the beginnings of depression. Not the author’s fault, she’s just that talented, and I, unfortunately, happened to have low tolerance for this brand of pain.

    But I knew there’s an adventure and a reunion to be had, so I picked it up again. And yes, things do take a lighter tone once Gillian was out and about once more with help from an unlikely savior.

    Where’s Gillian’s darling outlaw? Well, trust Gunner the Deadly to make a swashbuckling entrance! And save Gillian from an even direr fate. From this point, the story gave way to things we love best about Magic & Steam.

    There’s the continuation of the tenderest love story between an outlaw and a federal agent. My favorite part about their romance is the peaceful quality of it, a sort of quiet center for Gillian and Gunner in the swirl of gunfire and explosion. I’m not sure I’m explaining it well, but it’s like how Gunner sounds in the audiobook. Always calm and even, kinda zen-like in the midst of chaos.

    The titular doctor is the notorious Sawbones, a doctor who took pleasure in hacking off limbs during the war. He’s playing god, doing powerful magic never done before. Magic that is forbidden and highly unethical. While Gillian is haunted by his past, he and Gunner race to stop the doctor from his nefarious plans. Their adventure took them full circle, from NY to the wild west and back again.

    The plot moved fast with plenty of adrenaline-pumping action scenes in an immersive alt-Victorian America run by ether. Not too many steampunk gizmos this time, but the magic was wild! Now, Gillian totally owned all his powers, and he’s unleashing them full force! I got such a thrill with him casting jaw-dropping spells left and right. He could be pretty hard on himself, but our boy is the most motherfuckin’ badass magic caster there is! I adore him!

    Gillian’s superior officer, Director Loren Moore, and his informant, the Irish boxer Addison Day, play key roles in the story. Moore is also a loyal friend who always comes though for Gillian. I feel sorry for the guy. He’s been crushing on the spectacularly oblivious Gillian for years. Not sure if they met before, but I’m low-key shipping Loren and Addie. The boss deserves his HEA too.

    Also, holy cliffhanger!!!

    The Doctor is as awesome as promised. The opening chapters might have rattled me a bit, but this is a tale worth sticking around for. It’s one man’s struggle to shed a past he was forced to endure and become the person he is meant to be. A deeply emotional journey and a thrill ride that never ever loses steam!

    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: Awaken (Feel Alive)
    Artist: Big Wild & Surfaces
    Album: Awaken (Feel Alive)


    Magic & Steam must be read in order. Those cliffhangers are not for the faint-hearted! Check out my reviews:

    The Gangster
    The Engineer

    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Magic & Steam. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

    Magic & Steam: US | UK

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    LAST YEAR I WAS READING…(May 18, 2022)

    Here are the rules:

    Take your current read and compare it to what you reading this exact time last year. Which one do you like better? What is different about the books? Any special facts/things you want to make note of or bring attention to?

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    LAST YEAR I WAS READING…(May 11, 2022)

    Here are the rules:

    Take your current read and compare it to what you reading this exact time last year. Which one do you like better? What is different about the books? Any special facts/things you want to make note of or bring attention to?

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: The Gangster by C.S Poe

    48612089. sy475

    Magic & Steam: The Gangster – C.S. Poe

    1881—Special Agent Gillian Hamilton, magic caster for the Federal Bureau of Magic and Steam, has recovered from injuries obtained while in Shallow Grave, Arizona. Now back in New York City, Gillian makes an arrest on New Year’s Eve that leads to information on a gangster, known only as Tick Tock, who’s perfected utilizing elemental magic ammunition. This report complicates Gillian’s holiday plans, specifically those with infamous outlaw, Gunner the Deadly, who promised they’d ring in 1882 together.

    The two men stand on the cusp of a romance that needs to be explored intimately and privately. But when Gillian’s residence is broken into by a magical mechanical man who tries to murder him on behalf of Tick Tock, he and Gunner must immediately investigate the city’s ruthless street gangs before the illegal magic becomes a threat that cannot be contained.

    This might be their most wild adventure yet, but criminal undergrounds can’t compare to the dangers of the heart. Gillian must balance his career in law enforcement with his love for a vigilante, or lose both entirely.

    The novel-length follow-up to The Engineer, in the exciting new steampunk series, Magic & Steam.

    The Gangster is, hands down, C.S. Poe‘s best work to date. I was so blown away by this book! How is this not a movie already??!!

    For me, the Magic & Steam series is very cinematic. Not just story-wise, it would also look really gorgeous on screen. The world-building is a steampunk dream! For the first book, The Engineer, it was a clockwork version of the Wild West, complete with dashing outlaws and their aether-powered guns and evil geniuses with fantastically rigged out battle tanks.

    For The Gangster, the author reimagined 1881 New York into a magically-run city where instead of subways trains, we get a Grand Central Depot that is a sixteen-story terminal for airships. I can see this as a breath-taking panoramic shot when Gillian goes there to meet Gunner.

    It’s not just the technology and the setting. The atmosphere was electric, the people felt real. The writing took me to an alt-Victorian New York that lives and breathes.

    This is a world where magic users undergo mandatory regulation documentation. The Federal Bureau of Magic & Steam oversees the usage of magic. There are three kinds of people in the magic community. There are scholars who study magic, architects who fabricated the spells and casters, like Gillian, who perform them. Magic created by machines is illegal because it goes against the natural order, hence, it is extremely unpredictable and volatile.

    It’s New Year’s Eve and Gillian eagerly awaits Gunner’s arrival to make good on their promise to ring in the New Year together. Earlier that evening, the federal agent was hot on the tail of a gangster who was using illegal magic. This gave him the name of a mysterious new player in the scene, Tick-Tock, who was stirring up trouble in the Five Points. There is no rest for our poor caster because as soon as Gunnar arrives, things went boom!

    And so off they go to uncover Tick-Tock’s identity and his evil agenda, crossing paths with bullying co-workers, mechanical men, machine-made magic and grotesque abominations.

    If I thought Gillian was already using high-level magic before, well, he just went nuclear. The fight scenes were beyond AWESOME!!! This part alone was enough to earn the book 5 stars. Add to that a gripping case that kept me glued and two fascinating characters that were so damn perfect for each other.

    I first thought, Gunner was a mystery. We still don’t know much about him. But turns out, Gillian was the bigger puzzle to solve. He’s a bit unreliable as a narrator. We constantly learn more things about him as we go along. Everything is told from Gillian’s first person POV. You can really feel his emotions jumping off the page and boy, did I feel for the guy.

    Our boy tends to be too hard on himself. He is a lonely man who oh so badly craves love but thinks himself unworthy because sees himself a monster. He is spectacularly unaware of his own appeal, bemoans his chibi stature and has absolutely no gaydar whatsoever. I thought he was a pushover but this well-spoken little man has quite a temper. When Gillian unleashes his fury, he’s one magnificent, scary motherfucker!

    I also naively thought him a bad liar but holy heck, he was actually lying through his teeth all this time! All in the name of survival. Because our dear Special Agent Gillian Hamilton has some very dark secrets. I love him!!!

    Gunner The Deadly is his complete opposite. He is exactly what Gillian wants. And what he wants to be. The outlaw makes no apologies about who he is. He never lies. Tall, handsome, confident, perceptive and virtually unflappable, his calm automatically shatters the moment Gillian is in danger. I loved how he gently taught the younger man about intimacy and affection. I loved how he sees Gillian, really see him. It’s through the outlaw’s uncannily sharp observations that we get glimpses of how things really are. It is through these that the troubled agent is forced to be honest with himself.

    The two men are constantly out and about so the quiet moments are rare and precious. Gillian cherished them like the treasures they are as his connection with Gunner grew deeper. These scenes are so pure!

    I cleared my throat. “There’s something to be said for a well-built man.” I looked up at Gunner again. He was staring at me. “You’ve been eyed up and down no fewer than half a dozen times since we entered.”

    He nodded a fraction, like he was already quite aware.

    “And the man behind me at the bar intends to bring a beer to you.”

    Gunner’s gaze flicked in that direction but didn’t linger. “You’re quite observant when the attention isn’t focused on you.”

    Sweat prickled under my arms. I shrugged, trying to appear casual, but I’m sure I looked, if anything, manic. “Perhaps… territorial, is more correct.”

    That made the corners of Gunner’s eyes crinkle. “It’s rather too fish-in-a-barrel for me. I enjoy making eye contact with a man across a tavern. Getting that swell in your gut, like the ground has fallen out from under you.”

    I tried to swallow, but my throat was parched—dry like animal bones bleaching in the desert sun. “Like you’ve been pinned to the wall.”

    Gunner took one step closer to me. “And you realize you share a tendency.”

    “Now you’ve got to put it into words.”

    Another step. “When it’s right, you don’t need words.”

    The Gangster took off at a running start. Quite literally too. It never let down the pace until the very end, where it dropped one hell of a cliffhanger. The events took place only a couple of days but even with things going fast, all the various plotlines were brilliantly executed. Everything came together beautifully. It went all out with the action, the suspense, the mystery, the imagery and the magic while delivering a wonderful romance that is as tender as it is spine-tingling. THIS is exactly how you cast a spell on a reader!


    Magic & Steam should be read in order. Gillian and Gunner’s story began where all grand adventures begin, in the Wild Wild West. Check out my review of Book 1, The Engineer, here.

    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Burn It Down
    Artist: AWOLNATION
    Album: Megalithic Symphony

    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Magic & Steam books. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperbacks and MP3 CD audiobooks and help support independent bookstores.


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    FIRST LINES FRIDAY 56: Shallow Grave

    First Line Fridays” is by Hoarding Books and is all about the first line of a current/upcoming read. Friday 56 is a meme hosted by Freda’s Voice, where you turn to page 56 (or 56%) in what you’re reading a find a snippet that jumps out at you. The idea to combine the two came from Kat @ Here There Be Dragons

    I found this meme on The Writerly Way. And I’m doing this on a Thursday just to be difficult.

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: The Engineer by C.S. Poe

    48612064. sy475

    Magic & Steam: The Engineer – C.S. Poe

    1881—Special Agent Gillian Hamilton is a magic caster with the Federal Bureau of Magic and Steam. He’s sent to Shallow Grave, Arizona, to arrest a madman engineer known as Tinkerer, who’s responsible for blowing up half of Baltimore. Gillian has handled some of the worst criminals in the Bureau’s history, so this assignment shouldn’t be a problem. But even he’s taken aback by a run-in with the country’s most infamous outlaw, Gunner the Deadly.

    Gunner is also stalking Shallow Grave in search of Tinkerer, who will stop at nothing to take control of the town’s silver mines. Neither Gillian nor Gunner are willing to let Tinkerer hurt more innocent people, so they agree to a very temporary partnership.

    If facing illegal magic, Gatling gun contraptions, and a wild engineer in America’s frontier wasn’t enough trouble for a city boy, Gillian must also come to terms with the reality that he’s rather fond of his partner. But even if they live through this adventure, Gillian fears there’s no chance for love between a special agent and outlaw.

    Based on the short story, “Gunner the Deadly.” Entirely revised, newly expanded, and Book One in the exciting new steampunk series, Magic & Steam. 

    The Engineer is the explosive opener to the steampunk-tastic series, Magic & Steam. It’s has all the whiz! boom! bang! you could ever ask for.

    Gillian is a special agent from the Federal Bureau of Magic & Steam assigned to arrest the Tinkerer, a wanted engineer responsible for a lot of death and destruction. In the midst of gunfire, he crashes into the notorious outlaw, Gunner the Deadly. Learning that Gunner was also after the Tinkerer, he grudgingly agrees to work together.

    Gillian is an experienced magic caster so right off the bat, we get high level displays of magic. This is something I always take a lot of pleasure in. I’m usually bored with beginner magic so having a professional caster means not having to deal with the tiresome training trope. And boy oh boy, Gillian certainly didn’t hold back on his elemental magic! I wish we could see this on-screen.

    Gunner was no slouch either. With Gillian’s help, his weapon was powered up by ether magic, allowing him to blast through heavy machinery. He saved their assess many times.

    The Tinkerer was a crazed evil genius armed with fantastical weapons of mass destruction. At first glance, it seems he blows things up willy nilly. Later on, a surprising twist revealed a method to this madness and a tumultuous history with another character.

    The plot covers the couple of days Gillian and Gunner were running after the Tinkerer. Info was dumped here and there explaining the workings of magic and machinery, like Gunner’s weapon, as well as the world in general. Most of it went over my head but I did grasp the gist. There’s natural magic, made by a caster, and the artificial(?) magic made by machines. The latter was dangerous and illegal.

    Alongside this grand adventure run tentative steps to forge a sweeter kind of connection. The way it was built up, showing Gunnar’s gentler, caring side and Gillian being irresistibly drawn to these nuances in Gunnar’s personality, I was completely sold on their overnight romance. As much as I loved HEA, I’m glad the story didn’t push for that, instead ending with a promise of a New Year’s eve.

    This is an expanded short story of around 84 pages so it moves at break-neck speed. But even with that kind of pace, it was a well-realized world of Gatling guns, mechanical spiders, massive tanks, and attack airships. Recommended if you up for a romp in the Wild, Wild West with mysterious outlaws, maniacal engineers and badge-carrying virgin heroes welding lightning bolts.

    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: Lightning Riders
    Artist: AWOLNATION
    Album: Angel Miners & The Lightning Riders


    Posts on C.S. Poe’s works here.

    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to get your copy of The Engineer. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.