Caroline’s Heart by Austin Chant: 9/10 Stars

 

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Cecily lost her soulmate years ago, leaving her with nothing but the clockwork heart that once beat in Caroline’s chest. They say it’s impossible to bring back the dead, yet Cecily’s resurrection spell is nearly complete and grows more powerful by the day.

But when a cowboy she barely knows is fatally injured, the only way to save him is by sacrificing an essential piece of the resurrection spell—and all possibility of seeing her lover again.

 

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Overall Rating: 9/10 stars

Arthur’s Review: 4/5 Stars

This was refreshing.

Roy is looking forward. He wants to get off the ranch he works on and maybe get a ranch of his own. He wants to keep moving on towards a better life. A life where he can be himself and be his own man and his own boss.

Cecily is looking back. She longs for the woman she loves, Caroline, lost to her for years. She wants to find a way to bring Caroline back to her, despite all evidence that it’s impossible. Cecily is a witch, and she is determined that her powers can help her bring Caroline back.

Their paths cross when Cecily is doing work for Roy’s boss – a prosthetic leg for his daughter. Roy is struck at first sight, attracted to Cecily. Cecily finds that Roy’s energy reminds her of Caroline and she thinks she can make use of it – of discarded things that still hold his energy – to strengthen her spell. Roy thinks Cecily can help him, too. That she can help him get away from the ranch he’s on and onward towards a different life.

Their lives colliding in this way, Cecily struggles to keep her distance and Roy is drawn even closer. A run in with some toughs at a bar leaves Roy injured and Cecily steps in to help. This draws them closer and though Cecily still wants to keep her distance the only way she could save Roy was by using the anchor point of her spell: Caroline’s heart. So she wants to keep Roy around. She tells herself its because Roy is now the anchor point, but they grow closer as Roy recovers and when the spell takes a turn for the nasty, Cecily has to make a choice between Roy or her memories.

The trans content in this book is so refreshing. It just. Is. The trans characters are trans. That’s it. There’s no huge deal. No epic reveal. Nothing like that. It’s just a fact of the characters and the book moves on. And I love that. It’s exactly what I want in my trans speculative fiction.

The only issue I had with this book was the sex scene. There’s only one, it’s towards the end, and it felt so unnecessary. It felt like it was there just for the sake of having a sex scene. It didn’t add anything and it just felt extraneous.

Overall though, I really liked this story

Maria’s Review: 5/5 Stars

This is going to be pretty short and flail-y.
I loved this book. So much.
I loved the queer rep – both MCs are trans and attracted to more than one gender (I totally read Roy as bi and Cecily as pan, I have no scientific reasoning, I just did) and that’s it. It just is. It’s part of the story without being The Story, and I absolutely loved it.
I also fell in love with both characters. Especially Cecily’s grief and desperate plan she needed to survive was something I could relate to so, so deeply. Her connection to the past, the way she tried to hold on to her memories and create something – someone – with them cut me open and left me sobbing.
Overall, it was the soft undertones and the effortless way in which Chant created their relationship that touched me so deeply. From the first tentative connection that got brutally tested when it was still inexplicable and raw, to the first signs of mutual trust and tenderness to them finding a way forward together. Caroline’s heart and all.
The magic worked for me the way it was created and incorporated in the story, and it worked ON ME from beginning to end. 5 stars and highly recommended.

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