Known as the Steam Tinker, Lionel Pike rebuilds aged automatons, those cast off and bound for the scrap yard. When Sofia Gregory brings him her wrecked steam unit and confides it's also her best friend, he agrees to attempt a repair. He doesn't suspect his kindness will open a door to peril, or that he'll end up risking his heart.
Although she's attracted to Lionel, Sofia recognizes he's a mechanic first and a potential lover second. She thinks she can live with that, until Lionel engages in a competition to build a gladiator automaton and she loses his attention. When the ultimate danger comes, will Lionel fight for his lady? In a city torn by the struggle for automaton rights, can they win a future together?