MinnChica: I absolutely love and adore all things Jessica Sims/Jill Myles/Jessica Clare. I think I could read the phonebook, if she wrote it. Meljean Brook has created one of the most imaginative and incredible worlds that I’ve ever come across. Mix it in with her sexy writing and I can’t turn down anything of hers either. While I’ve only read a novella or two of Carolyn Crane, I’ve liked what I’ve read so far, and will definitely need to add her books to my ever-growing TBR stack.
Speed Mating was probably my favorite in this book. It was light hearted, sexy and an all around fun read. It was also the shortest, which made me just a teeny bit sad. I love that Sims has a way of finding ridiculous situations for her heroes and heroines, and then a humorous and sexy way of getting them out of it. Poor Estrella was looking for both a father for her child and a man who didn’t repulse her. More than anything she wanted her alpha, and I loved that she was so scared of ruining that relationship by approaching him about mating. I loved the way they finally got together, and how much they were secretly crushing on each other. I can’t say enough good things about Sims writing and just how much I love her stories.
I give Speed Mating an A
Conjuring Max was a really unique and different read. I loved the idea of using computers to enhance magic, and how Veronica was able to create a program to help her conjure up anything she wanted. It was a really cool and fun twist on magic that I haven’t seen before. For me though, there was something lacking in the romance between these two. I’m not sure what it was, but I just didn’t find that I was totally invested in the relationship between Max and Veronica. I wanted to be, but there was just a little spark missing, and it caused my interest to wane a little throughout the story.
I give Conjuring Max a B-
Wrecked was another fabulous novella to add to the Iron Seas series. As I said before, Brook has created probably the most imaginative world I’ve ever read, and I absolutely adore everything she writes within this world. I loved getting the chance to see some of the zombies up close and personal, and getting the chance to see first hand what their deal is all about. I loved the idea of having the cat and mouse game between Elizabeth and Caius be the foundation of their romance. I was rooting for them all the way and glad to see them finally find their way to one another. PS: Brook does an amazing job creating some really creepy villains as well!
I give Wrecked an A-
All in all this was another fabulous anthology from these three powerhouse authors. I love getting the chance to catch up with both the Midnight Liaisons and Iron Seas series, and I’m anxiously awaiting both of these authors to release their next books. I can only hope these three continue to write together and give us more in the future!
E: It was a great surprise to see a review request of Fire & Frost appear and since it contains two authors whose writing I absolutely adore I couldn’t wait to read it. I have found that Brook and Sims/Myles/Clare have a way of drawing me into their worlds. Crane is a new-to-me author who provided a very interesting addition to this anthology.
Speed Mating was a lot of fun to read. I found myself laughing often at the sheer incompatibility of prospects, Estrella’s combination of determination and shyness, and the uber patience of her alpha. I adored how Sims included some of the things that are used in society today to meet potential dates and played on how challenging it can be to meet someone who is interested in more than just a quick hook-up. One of the other things I enjoy about Sims’ writing is that she is always includes at least one key friendship so we get to see additional facets of her main characters. I really can’t wait to see what Sims provides for the next installment in this particular world.
I give Speed Mating an A
Conjuring Max was a very interesting take on computers, math, and magic. It brought me back to the days when I first started studying computer science and I tried to explain email and the internet to my family. Eventually I gave up and said it was magic. They were quite willing to accept that explanation so I had an immediate connection to the magic aspect that Crane used. Even with my fascination I found this novella missing a few things. I did not understand why the Council and hired assassins were trying to kill Veronica so I spend most of my time reading trying to understand that aspect. The other thing I found missing was, like MinnChica, the connection between Max and Veronica. I think I never quite grasped the romance because this was a snapshot after all of their internal conflict had been resolved so I really didn’t see the emotional attachment.
I give Conjuring Max a B-
Wrecked is another great installment in Brook’s Iron Seas world. Each story adds more to the world building and explores new aspects while retaining the familiarity of the original set-up. She explores some very fascinating issues here that aren’t completely revealed until the latter parts of the story which I thought was great. This ended up being a great game of chase with each side having information that could drastically sway the actions of the other side. I loved how both Elizabeth and Caius went to extremes to right what they saw as a serious wrong. Without giving away too much, I hope, I absolutely loved the themes of individuality and redemption that Brook wove throughout the story.
I give Wrecked an A.
Overall this was a really fun anthology to read. I hope the three ladies continue to join together for these collections. They are all skilled in creating fascinating worlds and unusual characters who inhabit them. Fire & Frost contains something for everyone from shapeshifters, to computers augmenting magic, to steampunk the variety was refreshing! I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.(less)
Has: I adore this series so much and the Bloodhound heroes are definitely smouldering hot. Archer definitely hit that category for me although I have to say I loved how gentle and empathic with the heroine, Grace. But underneath that quiet and mysterious demeanor he was really protective and passionate and the scenes where he lost control *fans self*. I also loved how patient and understanding with Grace and when they commenced with their affair I liked how he let take the choice and it was clear to me how she would fall for him so quickly.
E: Archer, wow! He had so many depths that I never expected. I knew that he had to have some reason for his bitterness and why he was left to Wilder to deal with/keep an eye on but I was not expecting all of that. Archer continued to stay full of mystery to the remaining inhabitants of Crystal Springs only revealing bits and pieces of himself to Grace. One of the several things I loved about him is that despite his bitterness and disillusionment he continued to do everything he could to save the town and continue acting as a bloodhound. I don’t think many people could or would do that. I also really liked that he didn’t judge Grace for her past nor did he make it harder on her to maintain her position of respectability and trust within the town. I will also say that his smexy times *fans self* and how patient he was with Grace so very wonderful to read.
MinnChica: I’ve loved Archer from the first moment he stepped onto the Bloodhound pages. He was snarky and at times rude, he didn’t apologize for being blunt and I absolutely adored him. I was really excited to see where his story would go, and was so glad to see him not only kick a little ass, but also soften up a bit. I really enjoyed the way he processed his feelings for Grace, starting with almost a contempt like put for her, and then moving to respect and admiration and love. It was great to watch him process all those emotions, while still kicking butt and taking names.
2. Thoughts on the Heroine
Has: I really liked Grace, I found her to be really realistic and relatable especially in the beginning when she’s close to escaping the town and Archer catches her. And I didn’t blame her for wanting to run especially in the claustrophobic and dead atmosphere town of Crystal Springs. Grace is a not a perfect character and she has a past which she regrets which I loved – and she definitely felt more real especially with the danger of the remaining survivors of Crystal Springs.
Her chemistry with Archer was hot and I loved how their romance evolved over the book, especially towards the end.
E: Grace was the perfect heroine for Archer. She had a past that she was trying to regain her inner respectability from and a sense of responsibility towards Crystal Springs. The opening scene as she was mentally struggling with her fears and what she had already decided to do once more was such a snapshot of her mentality. I also really liked how she interacted with Archer and shielded him from the other ‘ladies’ in the town. Not that she was possessive or anything *grin*. I enjoyed how she was strong and willful but not TSTL. Her vulnerability the first night they spent together provided a great contrast to her outer image and just built her into such a complex character.
MinnChica: Poor Grace… trying so hard to start over fresh with a new life. I love heroines who realize there were on the wrong path, and are so willing to fight for the life they want. Grace was no exception. She knew she had screwed things up royally before, and yet she desperately wanted a respectable life, a husband, a family, someone to love. I adored her inner strength, and her ability to deal with Archer, especially when he would get prickly. I thought that they were so wonderful together, and perfectly complimented each other throughout the story. I hope we get to see more of these two in future books!
3. Favorite Scene
Has: I think my favourite scene of the book is the just after the vampire attack at the basement, where they were investigating the doc’s labarotory and his experiments. The romance really progressed between Archer and Grace and there was definitely a few hot scenes, but it also illustrated a change in their relationship. And I loved how Archer really opened up to Grace with his emotions – I think its hard to convey emotional development with a lot of love scenes. But for me in Archer’s Lady it so worked for me!
E: So many good scenes in this book. Between their first smexytime, to the New Moon, to their final fight with the vampires it is hard to pick one. I think I am going to go with one towards the end when Wilder, Hunter and crew arrive at Crystal Springs and barge in on Archer and Grace. That plus the ensuing discussion (some of which was at the top of people’s lungs) was a lot of fun. To me it just crystallized how far the two of them had come along with what made Archer the way he was. It also added some interesting hints into the development of the upcoming dispute with the Guild.
MinnChica: Eeek… trying to pick just one scene always kills me, especially when there are so many to choose from. And with a novella, each scene tends to mean something special to me, so having few scenes to choose from that are all great is so hard! I think the first scene, where Archer and Grace meet in the barn is one of my favorites. Grace is trying so hard to be honorable, and yet at the same time she wants to run as far and as quickly as she can. When Archer comes in and questions her, she stands up to him while trying to preserve her dignity. The play-by-play banter was wonderful, and I loved that little moment.
4. Dislike about book
Has: I don’t think I have any dislikes other than the ending which leaves a few things open with the main mystery and plotline. But overall this was a fast-paced and sexy read!
E: I also didn’t have any dislikes. I was immersed in the story from start to finish and it stayed that way even when I re-read it.
MinnChica: Although I love reading novellas, there are just some authors who should only write books that take hours to read. Rogers is one of those authors that I could read all day, every day. I adored the story, it was wonderful from start to finish!
5. Any other misc. thoughts along with grade
Has: Archer’s Lady for me is another solid installment which is fast becoming one of my favourite post apocalyptic PNR series. This was a hot and engaging romance and memorable characters packed full of mayhem and action I definitely can’t wait for the next book!
I give Archer’s Lady a B+
E: Moira Rogers has provided yet another stellar installment in their Bloodhounds series. Each story seems to get better and better as more things unfold about the world and its characters. I can always go back and re-read the entire series and feel like I am enjoying it for the first time again. It is rare to have books that give me that sense during multiple re-readings. The smexytimes were hawt, the suspense danger was intense, the emotional growth between Archer and Grace was great to see. I am so looking forward to the next one.
I give Archer’s Lady an A.
MinnChica: I adore the Bloodhound series and how unique it really is. The paranormal and steampunk elements are blended together perfectly and the world is so fun to jump back into. I’ve long adored Archer, and was glad to see him get his happily ever after. I also really liked being able to see the story progress, find out a bit more about the Bloodhounds, and meet the (hopefully!) heroine of the next novella. I still love Rogers and everything they write. These books are sexy and fun and wonderful short reads! I give Archer’s Lady a B+(less)
Publisher: Carina Press Publish Date: 2/28/11 How I got this book: NetGalley
DeLaney creates a new and completely different steampunk like world than any...more Publisher: Carina Press Publish Date: 2/28/11 How I got this book: NetGalley
DeLaney creates a new and completely different steampunk like world than anything I’ve read before. Ever is a warrior woman who protects the area known as the Badlands. She’s fierce and will do anything to protect her lands and queen. When an attack takes them by surprise and kills their queen, it is up to Ever to find the princess and bring her home to lead her people.
Captain Spencer is reluctant to take on Ever, but wants to help her in any way he can. The two set off to find the princess, and are thrown up against multiple attempts to stop then, regardless of the costs. But once they have the princess on board, will they make it to the Badlands in time to save the country?
I really enjoyed this story, it was different and unique in the world building, something I had never read before. It was fresh and enjoyable to dive into the story where the main character is from a country ruled by women, and protected by women. While I found Ever to be a refreshing strong female lead, she also rankled on my nerves a bit with her inability to recognize her own feelings towards Spencer. It almost felt like she was too much of a warrior to be a woman, if that makes any sense.
I enjoyed Spencer’s character. While he was a force to be reckoned with all on his own, he didn’t overshadow ever in any way. I enjoyed that he was focused enough on his own mission, that he didn’t try and overrun Ever’s. The way they came together and danced apart throughout the book was really well done and fun to watch (except I cringed with Ever’s little interlude with Zeke).
Although it’s fairly short (only 100 pages or so), deLaney does a good job of keeping things moving, interesting and fun. Steampunk fans out there will enjoy the fact that most of this book takes place on an airship, which I thought was totally awesome.
All in all, I give Badlands 4 out of 5 airship battles! (less)
I love Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas series, and for that reason alone I was excited to read this anthology. And I’m glad that I did, because I really liked three of the stories, and found two additional new authors that I’m excited to read more of.
The Devil’s Due by Lora Leigh is a story set in the Breeds universe. I have to be honest, I didn’t even like this story well enough to pay that much attention as I was reading. I didn’t really like Devil or Kate for that matter, and I thought their romance was lacking. It felt like half the story was spent on one of the secondary characters as much as the romance between Devil and Kate. I have read one other Breed story before and I didn’t hate it as much as I did this. I almost stopped reading this book two or three times, but ended up finishing it. However, I would give this story an F.
The Curse of the Black Swan by Alyssa Day is a novella set in the new series world, League of the Black Swan. I didn’t know what to expect while reading this story, as I’ve never read anything by Day before, but I was so happy with what I did read. The world was exciting and engaging and something unique. I liked the aspect of the city of Bordertown being in the midst of three different paranormal worlds and how they all interacted together. The story between Sean and Brynn was wonderful. The backstory with the curse was so fun and different, and I loved the way that Sean and his family felt they needed to hide their demon status. The worldbuilding was fabulous, the romance between Sean and Brynn sweet and sexy, and the set up for the series itself was wonderful. I’m excited to read the full length novel and am so glad that I’ve found a new author to enjoy.
I give The Curse of the Black Swan a B+
Salvage by Meljean Brook is a novella set in the Iron Seas world. I love the stories within this series, and this story was the main reason I read this anthology. This is the story of Thom, a salvager who left his one true love in search of a treasure to bring home to her. The only problem is that the only thing his wife wanted from him was to be home with her every night. When they get taken hostage by a pirate, they will have to rely on each other to get out alive. I really liked this story. It was sweet and gave us a glimpse into another aspect of the vast Iron Seas world. I really liked both Thom and Georgie, thought they were pretty perfect for eachother. I loved that Georgie was willing to wait for her husband to return to her, and yet she was also willing to pick up and make something of herself when he was away. Poor Thom had some big insecurities to overcome, and yet he did everything he thought he needed to in order to keep Georgie safe and happy. I thought they had a great rekindling of their romance, and I adored the two of them together.
I give Salvage an A.
Ecstasy Under the Moon by Lucy Monroe was the final story in the anthology, and a historical paranormal. While I’m not usually a big fan of historical paranormal stories, I read this are more of a fantasy romance, and it ended up working great for me. Una is an eagle shifter, but given her past she is scared of the wolf emissaries that come into their home. Something about Bryant attracts her though, and Una is willing to take a chance getting to know him in the spirit world. I happen to love fated mates stories when done right, and I thought Monroe got it right. I loved that Bryant pulled Una out of her scared little bubble, and that he was willing to go through so much to show her how special he thought she was. I liked that it seemed that these two very different cultures, wolf and birds, were going to come together to make their lives better all around. I don’t know how I would feel about a full length book in this series, but I did really enjoy this short and sweet novella.
I give Ecstasy Under the Moon a B.
All in all I thought the anthology was strong, except for the Leigh story. However, I know that the Breeds series is very popular, so fans of that will probably enjoy Devil much more than I did. On the plus side, those who pick up this anthology for the Breed story alone, will also have some great reading ahead of them with Day, Brook, and Monroe also providing knock-out stories.(less)
Publisher: Carina Press Publish Date: 12/13/10 How I got this book: NetGalley
I was super excited to get this book from NetGalley, as most Steampunk Roma...morePublisher: Carina Press Publish Date: 12/13/10 How I got this book: NetGalley
I was super excited to get this book from NetGalley, as most Steampunk Romance I’ve read as of late has been super awesome, but this one just fell short for me. The story itself was only novella length, and those who do not like short stories should probably steer clear of this one.
For me, the story line itself was really interesting: robots or “automatons” have been developed to work for humans in high-risk settings (i.e. factories) but have become mainstream and started taking over jobs all across the city. Bartenders, nannies, butlers, etc have all been kicked to the curb for the new cheap labor of automatons. To me the concept of artificial intelligence and robots is so exciting, but the controversy that could arise is also something to think about.
From that aspect, I really enjoyed this story. The steampunk elements of advanced technology in the Victorian era is spot on, and I loved the way Dee hit some of the ways that social class structures can create chaos in that kind of situation. It was great seeing a female heroine struggle with the constraints of the time frame, but also be independent enough to have a profession.
However, the romance fan in me found the story somewhat lacking. I didn’t really find the romance between Dash and Victoria to be believable. While Victoria seemed to be completely devoted to a potential relationship, it seemed as if Dash was only half heartedly committed to her. It could have just been the way that Dee portrayed Dash’s feelings regarding their differences in social class, but I just had a hard time connecting to the two as a couple.
Although I didn’t relate to the two as a couple, I did enjoy both Victoria and Dash’s characters separately. I loved that Victoria was this amazingly strong and smart woman who found a way to make a name for herself in the field that she loved. I was also partial to the fact that although Victoria had some emotional struggles in her past, she was not hard emotionally. From a totally different end of the spectrum, I did like the way that Dash’s character was still somewhat honorable regardless of his upbringing. For a street kid, it was nice to see that he made a way for himself, and still wanted to fight for the lower class, even after the automatons took all of their jobs.
The mystery element surrounding the Southwark Slasher was great, and I was actually surprised with how it ended up playing out. I was glad to see it resolved the way it was. It gave the plot a “real” element to me, and proved that nothing as is it seems, even in this crazy alternate past.
All in all, I give Like Clockwork 2.5 out of 5 mysterious automatons. (less)
MinnChica: I wasn’t too sure what to think of David at first. It was obvious that the nano agents and his mechanical enhancements were a source of contention for him, that he was constantly viewed negatively by others because of it. Although that would have hardened many men, David seemed to take it in stride. He was still this caring young boy underneath all that gruff exterior. While cautious with his feelings, his thoughts, and his desires, he was still a genuine caring little boy that wanted nothing more than to be loved and give love in return. I adored David once we got to know him better, and hope we get to see more romance heroes like him in the future.
E: I had mixed feeling about David for a while. I liked him initially when he saved Annika from being arrested and through most of their initial encounters. I could tell that he was sensitive about his nano agents and his enhancements. While they gave him back a lot of what he had lost in the eruption he had to deal with a larger number of negative reactions to his appearance. Those included rather harsh rejections as a man from women who should have been able to at least act. Then David fell off his pedestal when he tried to blackmail Annika into giving him information. I could understand his frustration and pain but I hoped that he would have to work to get back into Annika’s, and my, good graces. Well he certainly succeeded and I ended up liking him even more than I had in the beginning. He was strong, smart, not Alpha and just wonderful.
Has: Oh I loved David- he was a fabulous beta hero, honourable and sweet but with a strong inner core! And I immediately warmed up to his character because I totally understood why he would regard people like that due to his enhancements and scars. I really loved how Meljean portrayed themes of disability and how that related to his character especially with how people’s attitudes towards him before he got enhanced and then later when he became the super hottie cyborg. It felt so realistic and not heavy handed, and so very well done. But then this is one of the reasons I love about her world-building and characterisation. But I loved that it didn’t make him bitter or angry but I could relate to him being reclusive and guarded about his feelings. I also loved how vulnerable that made him even though he would rarely show that aspect to others. Especially in his interactions with Annika, even though it got off to a rocky start, I could understand his frustration and desire to fulfil his mother’s wishes, although he made it clear he wouldn’t have betrayed Annika’s trust and that of her family and home town.
Thoughts on Heroine
MinnChica: Annika wasn’t as much of a mystery to me, and while I liked her immensely, she didn’t stand out as much as David did. I understood her dedication to keep her family secret safe, and thought she did the best she could at keeping the secret. I have to admit that I never really saw her character as being a scared little bunny until the second half of the book, when she reunited with someone from her past. At that point, her character seemed to deflate a little for me, and I was sad to see her bold and fearsome character whither a bit under the strain. Like David, I saw Annika almost as a little girl as well. She left home with a goal in mind, and it seemed like she really hadn’t gotten the chance to grow up the rest of the way. But with David at her side, the two of them really blossomed together, and I loved reading that.
E: Annika seemed to be quite the individual. She certainly didn’t fit in with women from other places but at the same time she managed to get along with most of them. Due to her peculiar upbringing she was free from most of the common prejudices but had some less common ones of her own. She was intensely private with good reason given some of the horrible things she had seen while searching for her sister. I liked how she never gave up regardless of the odds against and managed to come up with ways to make a difference. It was striking to see how much her character had matured while being on her own when she encountered people she knew from her home. I have to say I much preferred the strong Annika. Watching the relationship grow between the two with their ups and downs was a lot of fun.
Has: For me Annika’s character was much like peeling an onion and as the book progressed each layer slowly unfolded showing a different side to her. Her character may not be as dramatic,but like her dress sense which is colourful, she she definitely stood out to me. I think David needed an introspective heroine, because she like him, she was an outsider and I definitely agree that once she was with him, she really found her sense of self. Especially towards the end of the book, where she wasn’t being held back by her past guilt on the reason why she’s looking for her lost sister Kalla and family obligations. But I liked that she was refreshingly honest, and sweet but I don’t think she had the chance to show this side of self because she wasn’t given an opportunity until meeting David and encountering the mystery with Lorenzo and the experiments. And although she wasn’t as kick-ass as the previous heroines, I loved her steadfastness and determination and I think David needed that because he never had someone who could relate to him or be as loyal, and she’s going to be his touch stone and vice versa..
MinnChica: There were really so many of them, I just don’t know how I can narrow it down to one. There were so many great pivotal moments to their romance, and many of those stick out to me: hiding in the saferoom of the airship, their private moment in the bathhouse, their first time together. But I think the one moment that sticks out most is the first time they got hot and heavy, while traveling in the troll. I loved that they both wanted to take things slow, that they knew going into their evening that they WOULDN’T be having sex, and yet they desperately wanted to experience everything they could together. They were like fumbling teenagers doing what felt good, and it was such a turning point for them to admit they were on their way to love, and wanted to experience all the sexual buildup that comes with it.
E: Oh those are good scenes that MinnChica mentioned. I think I am going to say one close to the beginning of the story when David and Dooley (his scientific expedition partner) had a conversation about how David had never spoken to a women for longer than three minutes. The humor and teasing there highlighted who David really was to me while also mentioning a rather important truth. That just meant his conversations and other encounters with Annika that much more precious.
Has: I totally agree with you all about those scenes, especially with the touches of humour, and the growing sexual tension which was fun and very sexy! But for me the scene that called out to me and I don’t want to spoil the book, is at the end of the book, when they were both trying to survive the repercussions from big event. Oh, for two quieter toned characters, this scene was jam packed full of intensity and I really could feel the sense of despair and desperation and just how much they loved each other. This scene really summed up their romance for me because it showed how much they developed from their initial meeting to this point and it was so sweet and poignant.
Dislike about book
MinnChica: Other than Lorenzo and his total disregard for humanity, there really wasn’t much that I didn’t like about this book in particular. One of the things I love most about this series also has a tendency to frustrate me: you never know what you are going to get. With Brook and this series it could go one way or another. I’m a very mood-based reader in that I’ll pick up what I’m in the mood for, and with this series, I never know if I’m in the right mood or not. It’s very annoying for me, and I find that many times it’ll take me multiple sittings to get through the book, which almost never happens with me. However, that being said, I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed after finishing one of the Iron Seas novels or novellas.
E: I was slightly disappointed in what happened to Lorenzo. I know that the fact his carefully built and orchestrated world falling to pieces not to mention the destruction of his plans caused him a large amount of distress but I wanted more. So I might be slightly bloodthirsty but I wanted to see him suffer physically like so many of the people whose paths he crossed. Granted I don’t think he is any position to come back and cause anyone any harm *grin* but I wanted confirmation.
Has: I don’t really have any real dislikes in the book, although I agree about Lorenzo’s fate! But I did find it interesting that his character was contrasted with David and Annika who both observed things and people too, because they were outsiders. But unlike Lorenzo, who was basically a sociapath, they had empathy and was able to relate to people despite being different or eccentric.
Misc. thoughts & grade
MinnChica: All in all I really enjoyed this book. The world of the Iron Seas is so robust, there is so much going on, and there are so many different places Brook can take us to. I love the small world feel we got being in Iceland for the majority of the book, and how a lot of the underlying themes of community stood out to me. It felt like a steampunk small town romance, and I loved it start to finish. I hope we get to see more of the Hannasvik people and these characters in future books. The romance was great, the action was fun, and the steampunk aspects were engenius. Brook has another hit read on her hands! I give Riveted an A-
E: Once again I was completely entranced by Brook’s world. I stayed up way too late finishing this and loved every second of it. Between the depth of the world building, the complexity of the characters, and what is at stake for them it never lost my attention. This could actually serve as a standalone because none of the characters from previous stories are mentioned although it is obvious it is the same world, just focused in a different part. Yes it does take a little while for the action to start but the slow ramping up allowed me to get to know the characters and get a feel for them before I was focused on their life and death prospects making their relationship that much more believable. It wasn’t a sudden urge to celebrate not dying in the most primitive of ways but a thoughtful logical next stop to their already established friendship and attraction. I also really admire how Brook manages to integrate steam so thoroughly instead of an afterthought tossed in to satisfy a genre classification. Like MinnChica said above the romance, action and steampunk were all marvelous. I can’t wait for the next one. I give Riveted an A
Has: I was totally immersed in this book, although unlike the previous books which was more action led, I liked the quieter toned, and touches of humour, but the real stand out element was the romance – this was a beautifully drawn out love story about two misfits falling in love, and I loved the backdrop of Iceland with huge mechanical trolls, and leviathan like whales. I can’t say enough good things about the detail and depth of the strength of the world-building that Meljean Brook has laid out. It is like a real feast of the imagination, and I love how she tackles themes of race, sexuality and disability and the impact this has in a world where differences are frowned upon due to fear and ignorance. Riveted adds another element in the ever expanding tapestry of the Iron Seas world, the rich characterisation, the sweet and passionate and vibrant steampunk setting, I was truly captivated from the first page.
Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: March 8th, 2011 How we got this book: eARC from author
Has: I have to say, when I first heard that this would be a steampunk story set in the Wild West, I have to admit I was very interested. Especially when I heard that Wilder was one of Moira Rogers’ their intense heroes they have written to date. I love this combination of Steampunk and Western because it really gels well and the world-building with the added paranormal elements of vampires and shifters.
MinnChica: That is one of my favorite aspects of this story too. After some of the grea steampunk releases this past year, I’ve grown fond of the genre. Rogers did an amazing job of combining their strong paranormal elements with a different old west feel. And Wilder…. *fans self*
Has: I know! The Wild West element also reflected the primal and intense aspects of Wilder’s species and I loved how that was conveyed. I especially loved how that factor affected the romance and relationship with Satira. It made it believable and intense.
MinnChica: Yes! I think that one of Rogers’ strongest abilities is world building. And the new world they have created here between vampires and bloodhounds, and the history between the two is so inventive and neat. I always know with Bree & Donna I’m in for a great exciting story, and Wilder’s Mate didn’t disappoint!! And speaking of Satira, the chemistry and dialogue between her and Wilder was smokin’ up the pages left and right… HOT, HOT, HOT!
Has: I think it is rare to get that intensity and for a short book, the sexual tension was fantastic! I know I mentioned to you before, that you need to sit in an igloo to read this book, because I could feel the smokin’ hot tension from my ereader. I am surprised it didn’t combust there and then. And I am not talking about the love scenes because they were fantastic but the buildup and how Satira and Wilder interacted during that buildup was just as good.
MinnChica: Exactly! That chemistry and sexual tension was there and bubbling from the moment the two laid eyes on each other. I loved the quiet intensity of Wilder, and the brave stubborness of Satira. They were such a great couple.
Has: I think this is why Wilder was such a joy to read because he was definitely an alpha and a very intense one at that who isn’t apolegetic about being what he is and going after what he wants. But he never appeared brutish or an alphahole in anyway and I adored that because I loves me some alpha heroes!
MinnChica: I do too! I always say the more caveman the better, and Wilder definitely had some caveman tendencies! I also liked all the secondary characters. Hunter, Nathaniel…. they were all fabulous!
Has: No question for me that Wilder was my favourite character! Although I liked Satira’s character, I did initially find her hesitant at the beginning of the story but she soon got out of shell. She was definitely a capable heroine and I loved how she helped and outsmarted the big bad in the end.
MinnChica: I love that Satira was able to come up with a way to get them out of trouble at the end. I always love when brains sometimes wins over brawns. It was great!
Has: I also loved the supporting characters and I really hope we will see more especially Hunter and Archer, Wilder’s fellow Bloodhounds. So many plot threads have opened up and I am eagerly looking forward to seeing the repercussions from the events in this book, Wilder’s Mate was a great start to the series.
MinnChica: Yea, I can’t wait to see if the story progresses any with Hunter and Archer. They were definite plot twists that I was excited about as the story kept on going. I hope we get some more back info about how the Bloodhounds are created. That would be fabulous!
Has: I think this was my only gripe about the story. I wished there was more explained about who was the Bloodhounds and more about their guild. We only got the bare bones of what they were. I actually wished the book was full length because I think the world-building was so rich and refreshing and I felt that we just had a taster when I know there is a full meal coming ahead.
MinnChica: I completely agree. I wish this would have been stretched into a full length novel as well. Although I love that they were able to pack so much info into this short novella, it felt like so much more could have been thrown in, so much more back story, history and explanation of the conflicts, world building and characters. But I think that might actually be my only gripe with the story as a whole.
Has: Yes! I really enjoyed it but I really do think that this would have been an even better book if things was fleshed out more. The Steampunk tech, the Wild West setting and the paranormal elements was a great combination and I was engrossed with the story and the characters but I did find that myself wishing that there was more and I think that is a good sign on how well drawn this story was set in.
MinnChica: All in all, I was really impressed and happy with Wilder’s Mate. I loved the characters, and the new and complicated world building. I just wished we would have been given much much more.
I give this one a B.
Has: I agree! I really enjoyed Wilder’s Mate, I especially loved Wilder and although I wished it was more fleshed out and longer because I loved the setting and the characters and I wanted more! But Wilder’s Mate was a fast pace, engrossing mighty fine read! For a new series it has made a real impression on me and I eagerly await the next book. I also give it a B!
Note: Seriously I wasn’t joking about the igloo thing – I think you need one when you read the book! (less)
Publisher: Decadent Publishing Publish Date: Out now! How I got this book: eARC from author
Evie and her brother Jeffrey are headed to London for Evie’s...morePublisher: Decadent Publishing Publish Date: Out now! How I got this book: eARC from author
Evie and her brother Jeffrey are headed to London for Evie’s first season. The death of their parents has caused Jeffrey to inherit the family business, and Evie needs to marry. As the airship they are traveling on becomes suddenly under attack, Evie does what she can to ward off their enemy, but unfortunately causes multiple questions to be asked from their Captain Alex Corwin.
Upon arrival in London, the two travel to Lord and Lady Weatherly’s, close friends of their father. Lord Weatherly is also in the business of engineering, and takes great interest in the fact that Evie knows so much about his newest creation. But when that creation is tampered with, Evie must choose between trusting strangers with a secret that might be too sensitive to be revealed, or risking the lives of many.
This very short (approximately 50 pages) steampunk was a great little introduction into an exciting world. Schnyder does a great job of combining the classic London Regency period with incredible feats of engineering that encompass everything I love about the steampunk genre.
The biggest thing I love about steampunk is the glimpse into the different kinds of engineering trinkets that authors dream up. My favorite aspect of this story was by far Toby, a metal based, animated mechanical that turns from watch to squirrel to hair pin to assorted other things depending on the mood of Evie. I laughed out loud numerous times as Toby would display Evie’s emotions for her: hissing, blowing steam, or running scared. I love the idea of such an incredible invention, and would give just about anything to have one of my own!
The characters were great as well. Evie was a free spirit, non conforming woman who loved all things engineering, and wasn’t afraid to show it, even though it isn’t the norm for women to do so. I loved that she had no problems standing up to the men in her life, but was still soft and loving towards the Weatherly granddaughter, Angelica.
Evie’s ‘secret’ was totally new and something I’ve never seen before in the steampunk genre. I thought it was a great little twist to the story.
I was hoping for a little more romance (Schnyder does write some great romance) and was somewhat disappointed that the prospect of a budding relationship with Alec the airship Captain wasn’t explored further. The tension between the two was evident from page one. When a second potential suitor was introduced later in the story, I was thrown a little off guard. While nothing progressed with either, I was a little disappointed to say the least.
When I asked Schnyder if there would be additional stories set in this world she said that she would like to follow up with another story continuing Evie and Toby’s adventures. I can say that I for one would definitely read more set in this world. I would like to see Evie have a little romance in her life. I think she would be a great heroine who could really be a strong character.
Plus, I felt as if this story was almost a really long prequel. I chugged right along, happily reading, but when I reached the end was somewhat disappointed. I know that Schnyder can deliver a great story, and I felt like there should have been more.
All in all, I give Evie’s Gift 3 out of 5 mechanical Tobys! (less)
I can’t count the number of times I picked up and put this book down since I got it. I was intrigued by the steampunk world, but could never really seem to find a time when I was in the mood to read it. I would get through the first couple pages and lose interest. I have to say, I wish I would have forced myself to read it sooner!!
This book actually has two stories: the first is about the Queen’s companion Dare. Dare is on a mission to find out who kidnapped the Queen and replaced her with a doppelganger. But her plans to find a specific airship are thwarted and instead she finds herself prisoner on a “Pleasure” submarine. Bodhan runs the sub and Dare instantly intrigues him, and he works hard to not only seduce her, but also uncover all her secrets.
I didn’t think this first story as much as the second. I don’t know if it was because so much of the world was being unveiled slowly, or because Dare and Bodham took some time to meet up, but either way it seemed to drag a bit in the beginning. Once things picked up, I found myself so entrenched in the story I had a hard time putting the book down. I wanted to know what was going on, who was who, and how they were going to find the Queen. It wasn’t until Dare and Bodhan leave the pleasure ship that the book started really turning around for me, but once it did, there was no stopping the awesomeness.
The sexy times between Dare and Bodham was so to develop, but so smokin’ hot. The sexual tension between them was done incredibly well, and I loved their little dance around each other as they moved toward a relationship. I hope we get to see a lot more of them as the series continues.
One of the things I also really enjoyed was that although the book was two separate novellas, the story was seamless overall. I didn’t feel like I missed anything when we changed from Dare/Bodham’s story to Phina/Cyrus’s story. The book follows the same crew of people once Dare and Bodham join up with the correct airship, and I hope we continue to follow this group of people as the story continues.
The second story follows Cyrus, the Queen’s sword. He has been through hell and back trying to find her, the worst of his problems: having to trust Phina, the woman who seduced him and left him to be kidnapped by his enemies. But the Queen trusts Phina, who was unaware of the plot behind Cyrus’ kidnapping. The tension between these two is enough to drive them both insane, if they aren’t killed by the Queen’s enemies first…
I adored Phina and Cyrus. Phina was the kind of heroine who could take care of herself, she didn’t need any man to come in and rescue her. But it also didn’t stop her from dreaming of that man. She has never had anyone to rely on, nor has she realized she wanted someone to rely on. I loved the vulnerability that Cyrus brought out in Phina, and the lengths that he went to for her. I can’t count the number of times he almost died for her, and he was more than willing to do it time and time again. They were a great couple that danced around their messy past before realizing that without each other, they both weren’t as strong.
These two had some holy amazing sexy times. They had angry sex, make-up sex, claiming sex. You name it, they had it…. But it also fit so well with their characters. I never felt as if it was just thrown in for the sake of it. They were great together both physically and emotionally.
The world-building in this story is incredible. While it took me awhile to get a good understanding of the world as a whole, as each detail was revealed, there was more and more that drew me in. I can’t wait to read more from Grace, see where the journey leads next, find out who took the Queen, where she is, and why her palace was always a little like a prison.
All in all this story was so engaging and fun to read. The first story built slowly and wasn’t as quick to reign in my attention, but once I was hooked, I couldn’t put it down. The sexy times were hot throughout the book, the world-building was just amazing and the characters (main and secondary alike) were all wonderful to read. I can’t wait to see where the series goes next, and get answers to my millions of questions! I give Geared for Pleasure a B (less)