Walk the Plank – beauty and the clockwork beast (Nancy Campbell Allen) – unpopular opinion time!!

Ahoy there mateys!  Aye, this be another romance so quickly after abandoning ship on the last one but this one was supposed to be different!  Ye see it was described as “Jane Eyre meets Beauty and the Beast.”  These be two of me favorite stories.  It is a steampunk fantasy romance.  It has vampires and ghosts and werewolves.  The main character is a female botanist.  I adore retellings.  Matey Zeezee gave it a wonderful review and all the other crew gave it high ratings as well.  Yet again this Captain disagrees.

The main problem is that the premise and outlines of the story be great but execution faltered.  Badly.

The Pros:

  • The Main Character:  I actually mostly liked Lucy.  I adored that she was a female botanist who was on a secret vampire research team.  Hooray for science!  She was intelligent, witty, and tenacious.
  • The Love Interest: I would call him more of a Mr. Darcy instead of a Mr. Rochester.  He be rich and moody and secretive.  A bit dismissive of everyone though he loves his brother and cares about his tenants.
  • The Setting:  Who doesn’t like a haunted, creepy manor house?  This is where a bit of the Jane Eyre setting comes in.
  • The Steampunk:  I enjoyed the idea of a steampunk Beauty and the Beast and was excited to see the elements it would involve.  I enjoyed the clockwork servants.
  • The Ghost: She was me favorite character by far.
  • The Mystery: I wanted to know how the two women were murdered and why.
  • Audiobook:  I thought the narrator, Saskia Maarleveld, did a decent job with the material she was given.

The Cons:

  • The Main Character:  While Lucy was set up to be a strong an independent women of science, she never really used the science in any realistic way to figure out the mystery of the deaths or the ghost.  She reacted with strong emotion & not her brain, kept depending on the love interest for strength, and seemed to turn into a nitwit at the first sign of trouble.  She also had the Mary Sue problem of being the most accomplished, beautiful, blahblahblah.  Also why did she feel she could fix everything and then get herself into stupid trouble.  Where is the confident women described in the beginning?
  • The Love Interest: While I thought the banter with Lucy worked in the beginning, a lot about his “Beast nature” was rather dumb.  He grows up with a scar that supposedly scares everyone (seriously?) and has a clockwork heart.  He is not actually really clockwork.  Later ye find out more of his supposed secret but it was lame and I guessed it.  How that was presented to Lucy was SO stupid.  Also he be possessive, rude, and alpha-male-like.  He treats Lucy more like an object to be possessed and not a person.  I actually started to dread his point-of-view chapters.
  • The Setting: I like dark houses and locked doors but there is no reason that the story should have taken place there.  If something is killing the cousin and she is SO sick and scared then they could have gone to their OTHER house.  Lame.  There also be a secret garden, forbidden gazebo, and hunting lodge that play silly somewhat pointless parts.  Too many locations for no real reason.
  • The Steampunk:  Other than a clockwork heart, some cars, airships, and the clockwork servants, the story didn’t actually have a steampunk feel.  It just seemed like these elements were thrown in so the servants could be used to further the plot and it could be marketed as steampunk.
  • The Side Characters:  If I thought the two main lovers were flat and two-dimensional, all the other characters were seemingly pointless.  It’s bad when the dead ghost who can’t speak is the most interesting and only appears a handful of times.
  • The Mystery: So, so lame was the answer.  Also if Lucy was supposed to be investigating vampires, why did she never seem to care about the ones attacking the village?  She doesn’t even follow up on any of that and also misses all the signs of the ghost mystery because she is too busy lusting.
  • The Plot: The plot was messy, convoluted, and made no sense.  The vampire, werewolf, and ghost subplots are never adequately explained and could have been removed and not changed that much of the story.  In fact nothing was really ever explained to me satisfaction.  What is the history of the shape shifters?  If machines are so advanced why bother with horse and carriage?  The reasons for the cousin’s sickness seemed to be obvious.  How did nobody notice?  The story kept spinning in circles and got very boring at times.  Lots of plot lines were begun and subsequently abruptly dropped.  However, I was out and about and couldn’t download something else.
  • Communication:  The absolute worst part is that the two lovebirds NEVER really work together or make plans to solve the case or really talk about their problems.  Assumptions abound.  Both people try to “protect” the other one and only manage to make every situation worse.  Both of them believe they are the only smart person in the room.  Most of the “plot problems” were due to avoidable misunderstandings and stupidity.  So much so that Miles complains at one point that Lucy has been in more danger in one month then ever in her line of work.  Blech.

I get the book’s appeal but it didn’t work for me at all in the end.  To the sharks it goes.  Arrrr!

Side note: Apparently lame is the word of the day.

Goodreads had this to say about the novel:

Jane Eyre meets Beauty and the Beast.

When Lucy Pickett arrives at Blackwell Manor to tend to her ailing cousin, Kate, she finds more than she bargained for. A restless ghost roams the hallways, werewolves have been reported in the area, and vampires lurk across the Scottish border. Lord Miles himself is clearly hiding a secret. He is brash and inhospitable, and does not take kindly to visitors—even one as smart and attractive as Miss Pickett. He is unsettled by the mysterious deaths of his new wife, Clara, and his sister, Marie. Working together, Miles and Lucy attempt to restore peace to Blackwell Manor. But can Lucy solve the mystery of Miles? Can she love the man—beast and all?

To visit the author’s twitter go to:

Nancy Campbell Allen – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

beauty and the clockwork beast – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

20 thoughts on “Walk the Plank – beauty and the clockwork beast (Nancy Campbell Allen) – unpopular opinion time!!

  1. Oh man, sorry it didn’t work out for you Cap’n. I do agree with your critique of it though, especially the Mary Sue problem, which also appears in the second and third books of the series. I didn’t mind it much in this one and the second, but it started to annoy me by the third book.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Nope, haven’t read it, but I’m gonna add it to my TBR. I’d like to try more steampunk stories. So far, Allen’s book and the comic book series Lady Mechanica are the only steampunk stuff I’ve read, I think.
        Thanks for telling me about it.


  2. Hahaha! I love this review! Well done. This is a book I never planned on picking up. I’ve discovered that I don’t like to read romances with vampires and werewolves in them. The men are always so controlling and horrid. And the women, who are supposedly strong and whatnot, cannot seem to do a damn thing. It infuriates me. I don’t mind reading urban fantasy, though. If I know vampires and werewolves and fae are just part of the world, part of the story which ISN’T first and foremost a romance, I’m cool.

    I might also be a terrible person for this… but I don’t read a book with fae if the author hasn’t proven themselves first. I read for the writing and the characters. I know there are lots of people out there who love books with paranormal characters in them. So much so that a lot of terrible books have been published for the sake of it. I need proof first. Wah wah.


    1. I try not to read anything where romance is the main point. I don’t mind urban fantasy with elements of romance in it though. Minimum wage magic is one of the best I have ever read. I loved it and the sequel. Check it out.

      And I agree with ye on the fae issue. I used to love reading fae stories particularly the ones in the Irish style about changelings and such. But now I avoid all books with fae because of how terrible most of the new stuff is to me. I don’t like the “human-type” fae. So if that makes us terrible people so be it. I do think it is hard to find the urban fantasy that floats me boat these days.
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve added it to my TBR! Minimum Wage Magic sounds like my kind of Urban Fantasy — less fae, more dragons. I always want more dragons.

        I’ll keep an eye out for fae-less urban fantasy and let you know what I find. Perhaps we can help each other find some wonderful gems.


  3. Sorry this one didn’t work for you, I have it on my list to read at some point. I do think it makes sense that if she was a scientist then it should be shown in some way and not just told, that’s a major failing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the idea of a clockwork Beauty and the Beast, it would be a perfect way to give a different spin on the invisible servants in the Beast’s castle! But it sounds like this one was high on concept and low on execution. Pity. (Also lame. Because that’s a fun word of the day.)

    Liked by 1 person

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