Riveted is a steampunk adult romance and is the third book under the Iron Seas series. The story is a stand-alone novel in the universe and does not related to any character in the previous books. When David Kentewess, a volcanist heard Annika Fridasdottor's accent in the streets of Castile, he immediately grew interested in getting to know the odd woman who later he found out as a crew member of the airship Phateon in which he will be joining to meet with his aunt, Dr Lucia Kentewess and to go on a journey to Iceland. Twenty years ago, a volcanic incident destroyed his limbs and killed his mother who in her dying breath, wanted him to bury her beads in her homeland. Finding Annika gave him some hope to fulfill his mother's dying wish but he unexpectedly found himself intrigued by the woman herself for a reason closer to his heart.
To simplify, it's about a dysfunctional girl with a secret and finding attraction in a guy with a horrid past and who feared rejection and then something bad happened to them and they have to survive in the ice-cold climate and try to survive the extreme Icelandic landscape while being chased by airships and mechanical whales. Oh, there are volcanic eruptions and woman-only communities in far north who can control trolls aka giant mecha.
There are female homosexuality theme in this book which can make some readers uncomfortable with but the book was careful into not exploiting the matter in the plot which make the whole premise enticing to average readers.
I fell in love with the character, the storyline, the dialogues that was engaging through the bulk of the book. From the first chapter, I devour every scenes as if it were real and enjoyed it to the last. Despite being considered as a Paranormal Romance, I find the book were less as a PNR but more as a serious adult fiction. To be honest, the story really is a combination of Sakura Wars, Jules Verne, Moby Dick, Full Metal Alchemist and Final Fantasy. I did mildly enjoy Moby Dick and Jules Verne's books but this novel make killer-whale more epic than when I was whale hunting in Sims Medieval. Plus, the psychopathic antagonist is rather well thought of for a genre and surprisingly very unpredictable unlike the previous books.
Before you wince about having to read romance. Yes, the book is about Annika and David falling in love but the romance element is absolutely minimal from the start and it does naturally progress to the conclusion. Besides, most of the book is filled with what a Steampunk novel should be ; great world-building, engaging plot, superb action, daunting climax and fantastic resolution. In fact, I think 80% of the book goes on without a proper sex scene and even that is hardly explicit for average adult.
I was a bit disappointed in "Heart of Steel" after a brilliant start in "Iron Duke". I do enjoy alpha male characters like Trahearn but David in "Riveted" does tickle the romantic side of spinster me. After I have read Riveted excerpt in "Mina Wentworth and Invisible City", I initially wished that the book doesn't disappoint me (like some hyped up books I've read did) and luckily, the whole book is simply magnificent.
If you enjoy world-building, adventure, some technicalities and science, with female character that was strong and fragile at some moment, and a male character that doesn't overwhelm the book, feminist, massive whale, airships, gundam, and book geek references, then the book is definitely for you. And I find it's quite unisex too since it's from Annika and David's POVs. I just hope the PNR label doesn't scare away potential readers because this book is a great steampunk novel.
The fact that I received the autographed copy from the author doesn't change the fact that I really enjoy the story and hope for the best in the rest of the installment. Plus, I can't wait for Scarsdale's novel, even if I had to wait for a year for it and I think I will reread Heart of Steel again to see if it grows on to me.
As a disclaimer. I received the ARC from the author and by proxy the publisher. The book will be published on 4th September 2012.