Cassandra Clare sure knows how to write a love scene. Her hot and steamy writing, while appropriate for a young adult audience, will have women regardless of age tearing through the pages of her Infernal Devices sequel, Clockwork Prince in eager anticipation of the passionate make-out sessions and heated embraces. And, of course, the addition of a heartbreaking love triangle never fails to heighten the emotion of an already charged atmosphere.
This paranormal romance is set in late 19th century London at the Institute, a center of learning and seat of wisdom for a supernatural clave called the Shadowhunters. These ninja-like warriors are referred to as Nephilim, a race of humans whose lineage descends from angels. Their sole purpose is to protect humanity from the demons that crossover into the earthly realm. They also keep Downworlders in line such as warlocks, fairies, vampires and werewolves. However as the action begins, they are on the watch for Mortmain, their sworn enemy who seeks their destruction with his army of mechanized automatons. Not to mention, he wants to kidnap and marry our heroine, Tessa, who he believes is an instrumental component to his takeover strategy.
Being the object of Mortmain's obsession confuses Tessa because she herself is unsure of her exact genetic makeup. She exhibits the ability to take on the physical form of another person, yet she does not bear the mark of a warlock. Rescued by the Shadowhunters, she is offered protection at the Institute where she just happens to come between two best friends, Will and Jem. The boys share a special mystical bond whereby they pledged an oath to stand by each other for the rest of their lives. Tragically, although just a teenager, Jem is slowly succumbing to an untimely death. The opium he takes to stay alive has preternaturally aged him turning his hair and eyes silver. Yet he seemingly starts to regain his strength when he believes Tessa might actually care for him.
And that's where the drama begins. After being cruelly rebuffed by the painstakingly handsome, Will, Tessa is left in a state of confusion and dismay. Will is a self-proclaimed playboy who has no intentions of pursuing any kind of lasting romantic relationship with Tessa. He pushes her away for reasons unknown to her but are gradually revealed over the course of the novel. His advances toward her run hot and cold. Undeniably physically attracted to him, she is unable to reconcile his changeable behavior into something she would want to endure on a regular basis.
Little does Will know that Jem is harboring a flame of his own for Tessa. While always appreciative of Jem's kindness and friendship, Tessa is surprised that she also experiences a strong feeling of desire for him. The dynamics shift when Jem boldly makes his move during an unexpected nighttime visit by Tessa. Jem caresses Tessa's body like his delicate hands painstakingly tune his violin. She intuitively knows that what they have is something special and she eagerly responds to his gentle touch.
Meanwhile, as Will attempts to work out his longing for Tessa with help from Magnus the warlock, he takes her to a masked ball. They are there to spy on Tessa's brother, Nate, who betrayed the Shadowhunters to become Mortmain's right hand man. However after sipping the fairy-spiked punch, the two end up cavorting on a balcony as hair pins fly and inhibitions are cast aside. They share an intense moment of passion before Will runs off into the night to waylay a blue-skinned demon of significant importance.
Tessa can't stand Will's arrogance and aloofness, yet she can't take her eyes off him or remove him from her fantasies. However with Jem she feels a deeper, more intimate, connection that she can't deny makes her feel complete like she has finally come home. After a violent showdown with Nate, both Jem and Will plead their case to win her heart. In the end, she makes the decision to choose one over the other. The palpable heartbreak that ensues is gut-wrenching. One walks away destroyed, while the other is kept in ignorance of what has transpired. While Tessa is left with the knowledge of almost having perfect happiness in her grasp, only to have her world turned upside down.
Overall, a blockbuster paranormal sequel that simmers with longing and desire.
Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare is available for $19.99 at Amazon.com and at CassandraClare.com.
Thank you to Jessi for recommending this book. Follow her fantastic book blog and Twitter posts.
Review copy provided by Valley Community Library.