The Curious Case of the Clockwork Menace is a novella set three years before the events of the rest of the London Steampunk series. In it, Nighthawk partners Garrett Reed and Perry Lowell work together on a case involving a missing theatre actress who may or may not have been abducted. Perry, the only other known female blueblood (vampire) has been in love with her partner for years, without ever really being bothered by jealousy, despite knowing that Garrett is a ladies’ man. Now, seeing him flirt openly on the case, she has trouble keeping herself focused, which leads to conflict between the two, and causes complications during the investigation. In the story, Perry is abducted and nearly drowns and determined never to lose track of her again, Garrett gifts her with a dagger containing a tracking device, making her promise to keep it with her always. Said tracking device becomes significant in Forged by Desire.
Nine years ago, the Duke of Moncrieff was exiled to Scotland after it was believed he murdered his thrall, Miss Octavia Morrow, an earl’s daughter. Her body was never found. Shortly after Miss Morrow’s disappearance and believed death, an emaciated, bedraggled, terrified young woman infected with the craving virus showed up at the Nighthawk headquarters, asking the guild leader, Sir Jasper Lynch for help. Miss Peregrine “Perry” Lowell was taken in by the Nighthawks and trained to control her new animalistic instincts. Trained by Lynch himself, she rose in the ranks to become one of his right hand people. Now, as Lynch has been elevated to a dukedom, he can no longer lead the Nighthawks. His successor is Garrett Reed, Perry’s partner for most of her nine years on the force.
Reed is struggling with his new leadership duties. Lynch led the Nighthawks for more than forty years (bluebloods being near immortal and impervious to ageing) and his subordinates didn’t realise just how tricky a balancing act his job entailed. Garrett can’t ask Lynch for help, as the man blames him for betraying a sworn oath, endangering Lynch’s beloved Rosalind, in order to save Lynch’s own life. After an attack that nearly ended his life, Garrett’s virus levels are extremely strong and he is worried he’s going to tip over the edge into the Fade (when bluebloods lose all control and become mindless vampires, attacking everything in sight). He is suffering from horrific nightmares, where he dreams that he attacks Perry, who he’s come to realise he considers more than a friend and a work mate. Because he fears he’ll hurt her, he’s been keeping away from her for a month, and it’s making him utterly miserable.
When two young women, clearly of highborn birth, are found murdered in a factory, the cause of death makes Perry flash back to the terrors in her past. Full review here.