The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady CrossMy rating: Steampunk Romance
I hadn't realised when I started reading that this was the second book in a series, but it didn't take me long to figure it out. The beginning of the book is absolutely filled with exposition, constantly referring to plot elements from the first in the series in a style that would be heavy-handed if you'd just read it, but which sadly wasn't really clear enough for a new reader to understand. For example, it is stated many times that Finley is struggling to merge the "two sides" of herself, good and bad, but it's never clear what this really means for her.
However, the plot held my attention enough that I continued reading despite these issues, and I did enjoy the mix of steampunk technology with a little bit of what any other book would call magic. The New York setting also had authentic touches from the period, which brought the environment to life. It's nice to see female characters who are good at fighting (Finley) and science (Emily), though I was a bit disappointed by how much time they both spend obsessing over their various crushes. That isn't limited to the girls, though: the boys are equally soppy romantics at heart, and at times it feels that none of the characters cares quite so much about the danger they're in as they do about their love lives. Still, it was basically a decent adventure story with enough twists and turns to keep me interested.
Rereading it after picking up the first book in the series, it's fair to say that I enjoyed it a lot more, and felt more invested in the characters' relationships and histories. I definitely recommend avoiding my mistake, and reading this series in order!