chasing_the_star_garden_coverAuthor: Melanie Karsak
Title: Chasing the Star Garden
Published On: Audio Book Sept 2014
Publisher: Clockpunk Press
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An opium-addicted beauty.

An infamous poet living in self-imposed exile.

An ancient treasure about to fall into the wrong hands.

Melanie Karsak's Chasing the Star Garden takes readers on a thrilling adventure from the gritty opium dens of gaslamp London to the gem-colored waters of the ancient world. Lily Stargazer, a loveable but reckless airship racer with a famous lover and shattered past, reluctantly plunges into a centuries-old mystery in a romantic adventure best described as Dan Brown meets Mary Shelley.

It all begins on one of the worst days of Lily’s life. She just lost the London leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix. To top it off, a harlequin fleeing from constables shoved a kaleidoscope down her pants, told her to fly to Venice, then threw himself from her airship tower. What’s a girl to do? For Lily, the answer is easy: drink absinthe and smoke opium.

Lily’s lover, Lord Byron, encourages her to make the trip to Venice. Lily soon finds herself at the heart of an ancient mystery which has her running from her past and chasing true love and the stars along the way.

 **Due to steamy scenes and depictions of drug use, this novel is intended for mature readers.**

bookexcerpt

“Lord Byron?” I said, surprised, as I tried to pull myself together. I mopped the sweat from my brow. As always, the fucking nightmares. Would it ever end? “Now, what brings you to this den of sin?”

“I looked for you after the race. I couldn’t find you anywhere. Naturally, then, I knew you would be here,” he said, sitting down on the cot beside me. He lifted the pipe and took a toke. How handsome he looked in the dim light, his chestnut colored hair curling around his ears, his skin, with its alabaster sheen, making him look otherworldly. His pouty red lips always seemed hungry. And then there were his eyes, as clear and blue as a spring sky.

“I’ve missed you, but why are you in London?” I asked him. He handed the pipe to me. I inhaled deeply. The opium made a haze of everything. I felt like I was experiencing the world from a forty foot distance.

“Some legal matters needed immediate and personal attention. And I came, of course, for the race. But I’m leaving for Athens at dawn,” he said, stroking my leg. He toked again then poured himself a glass of absinthe from the small decanter beside the cot. He popped a sugar cube and drank the absinthe in one long swallow.

“So soon?” I said with a sly grin as I grabbed hold of his belt, my fingers inside his pants.

“That’s time enough,” he replied, “unless, of course, my absence has cured your love for me,” Byron said with a smile.

“Love?”

“Of course. It is the duty of a lover to love. Ah, but I forget myself. I have a gift for you,” Byron replied.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small wooden box. He handed it to me.

I took another toke then set the pipe down. “What is this for?”

“Your service to your country,” he replied.

“Ah yes, how the British love a loser.”

Byron leaned in and kissed my cheek and ear. “We are giants. That is the reason we cannot tolerate anything less than excellence. Open it,” he whispered.

I opened the lid to discover a small metal pin tinkered into the shape of a lily. “It’s beautiful.”

“Ah, but that’s not all. Watch,” he said and tapped one of the intricately designed carpels extending from the center of the lily. With that, the flower came to life. The petals flexed up and down as if they were in the breeze, the carpels waving in coordination. “A lily that never loses its fragrance. A delicacy that never wilts. It is common metal, yes, but strikingly beautiful in its complexity.”

I stared at it. It was amazing. I set the box down, and lying back, pulled Byron on top of me. I kissed him deeply, my tongue roving inside his mouth, my fingers twisting around his curly hair. I could taste the sugar and alcohol on his lips. His intoxicating scent of patchouli and orange blossom overwhelmed me.

 
mikesreview2
5 Stars (5 / 5)
Chasing the Star Garden has a great pace, and is just the right amount of immersive that will have you walking the streets of a Victorian aged Steampunk London right along with Lily and her crew.

I can’t tease you a whole lot more than the spot-on excerpt manages to do without giving away the sordid details of the story. What you are going to find though, is an action packed adventure worthy of Indiana Jones that spans across Europe. And just when you think you can take a breath from the action, we get our hearts stuffed through the wringer as we learn the dark secrets of Lily’s past and why she would rather float along in a drink and drug induced haze than deal with the feelings those memories cause.

Updated Audiobook Thoughts: I really and thoroughly enjoyed the audiobook version of Chasing the Star Garden! The narrator Libby Clearfield did a fantastic job of bringing the story to life in my ears.

She did great voices for the different characters with varying accents, including the creepiest english accent I’ve ever heard (the character was a creep so it was fitting) I don’t think I’ll be able to hear anyone ever say “pretty kitty” without thinking of that!

author information

About Melanie Karsak

Melanie Karsak grew up in rural northwestern Pennsylvania where there wasn’t much to do but read books and go for hikes. She wrote her first novel, a gripping piece about a 1920s stage actress, when she was 12. Today, Melanie, a steampunk connoisseur, white elephant collector, and caffeine junkie, lives in Florida with her husband and two children. She is an Instructor of English at Eastern Florida State College.