The Exile's Violin by R.S. Hunter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Jacquie Renairre has never accepted that her parents' deaths were an accident - capitalising on her guardian, Uncle Serge's contacts and her burgeoning skills as a Private Investigator, Jacquie embarks on a quest to discover the truth behind the mysterious black key that was stolen on the night her parents were murdered. Teaming up with socialite Clay Baneport, Jacquie is also contracted by Special Advisor Maximilian Delacroix to investigate a possible conspiracy to start a war between her home country, the Republic of Alesir, and their enemy, the Kingdom of Kenesta.
It took a while for me to get into the story - maybe a little more back story than was necessary was included in the beginning of the book, making it seem like it took forever to get to the more exciting bits - and I would have liked to have learnt more about the Exile's Violin a little earlier in the story (rather than only in the third quarter of the book). The story has its eyebrow-raising bits (as in, really, that's a bit unbelievable, isn't it?) but nothing too far out that it wasn't somehow rationalised (after all, it IS fiction).
The main characters, Jacquie and Clay, were well-written and had an easy chemistry that made me like them. Jacquie is both spunky and determined, as well as impulsive and vulnerable, making her utterly relatable, though a little annoying at times (just like real people, ha!) and I really wanted to box her for being so mean to the faithful Clay. Okay, it's not a romance, but when you have a guy and a girl as main characters, you can kind of guess where they're generally going to be heading. (Plus points to Hunter for keeping it really clean - I can recommend this book to younger readers without any qualms!)
I'm generally a fan of mysteries and science fiction and fantasy (I haven't given steampunk much thought thus far) and since this was a weaving of the two, I enjoyed this book quite a lot, though I've been rather wavering between a 3 and a 4 star rating, as you would have seen if you've been following my updates to this review. (Okay, I'm settling for a 3.5)
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