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Badlands #1


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After a brutal Civil War, America is a land divided. As commander of her nation's border guards, Ever is a warrior sworn to protect her country and her queen. When an airship attacks and kills the monarch, Ever must infiltrate enemy territory to bring home the heir to the throne, and the dirigible Dark Hawk is her fastest way to the Union.

Captain Spencer Pierce just wants to pay off the debt he owes on the Dark Hawk and make a life for himself trading across the border. When the queen's assassination puts the shipping routes at risk, he finds himself Ever's reluctant ally.

As they fly into danger, Ever and Spencer must battle not only the enemy but also their growing attraction. She refuses to place her heart before duty, and he has always put the needs of his ship and crew above his own desires. Once the princess is rescued, perhaps they can find love in the Badlands--if death doesn't find them first...

101 pages, ebook

First published January 21, 2011

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About the author

Seleste deLaney

21 books114 followers
Author of speculative romance (aka Julie Particka).

My quirky spy series, Agents of TRAIT, is published by Entangled: GAMING FOR KEEPS, CONNING FOR KEEPS, FIGHTING FOR KEEPS, and DYING FOR KEEPS

My steampunk romance series is from Carina Press: BADLANDS and CLOCKWORK MAFIA.

The Blood Kissed novels (KISS OF DEATH, KISS OF LIFE, and TALES OF THE BLOOD KISSED) are available from Seleste deLaney Books. The short stories that begin the Blood Kissed series (OF COURSE I TRY and THE GHOST OF VAMPIRE PRESENT) are currently out of print. They are included in the TALES anthology)

My short stories YES,ALANA, THERE IS A SANTA CLAUS; MAKING THE NAUGHTY LIST; and A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS were formerly part of Evernight Publishing's holiday anthologies. In addition, Evernight was the home of the Cupid's Conquests multi-author, shared world series. (GUNSHY--book 1, and LOVE & OTHER INDOOR SPORTS--book 4). All my Evernight titles, however, are currently out of print.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 68 reviews
Profile Image for Lyndsey.
126 reviews3,150 followers
February 22, 2011
The hottest novella from Carina Press today is Baaaaadlands. This book has everything: technology a la steampunk, airship battles, a strangely named heroine, and "hafnawawo".

What's "hafnawawo" - you ask?

Well, the thing every good action flick needs (or at least, usually seems to have). Half naked warrior women!!

The badlands are a desolate land of crime and fighting. Criminals are sent north away from the populated areas. A tribe of warrior women patrol the borders, fighting off the criminals to keep them from crossing back over.

The queen of the tribe is murdered, Ever (our main character) is tasked with finding the princess to assume the queen's duties. Right at the start of her quest, she is injured and picked up by an airship.

Onboard the Dark Hawk, she manages to catch the eye of the men. It wasn't a difficult task considering she was half naked at the time she boarded, since the warrior women usually fight in various stages of undress.

Seriously though. What women, in their right mind, would want to fight battles half-naked, with their goods hanging out...

Well, there's Xena and Gabrielle:

And of course, the girl contestants of survivor:

But why actually fight naked when you could get the same effect with these Boob Scarves ?

Anyway - an exciting airship battle ensues, with Ever manning the military turret. After taking down the enemy for them, she enlists the crew of the Dark Hawk to help on her mission.

I am absolutely fascinated by the way the author set the mood of the book. I saw everything so clearly in my mind. Our heroine, Ever (yes, I'll get to the name in a minute) and her comrades are the female version of Spartans. The bleak setting blends flawlessly into the background against the stark contrast of gore, creating a 300-esque vibe in the beginning.

I would love to see more of the world in Badlands. Most of this novella took place onboard the airship, instead of on the battle grounds of the women.

As pretty as the name Ever is, it can also cause confusion. It can easily be mistaken for the word "even" at the beginning of a sentence or as part of the sentence instead of as a name. It certainly took some getting used too.

The one big gripe that I have is over the perspective. Clarity on this subject isn't exactly the authors strong point. Because of the way that some sentences are phrased, it came across at times as "head-jumping" and I was left wondering who's perspective we were supposed to be getting.

Fav quote: He laughed, and the sound touched her in places far more intimate than her ears.

Decent romance, sexual tension, and love scenes. There is a love triangle. (No way!) Great battles. Not too shabby writing. The thing I liked is that it didn't feel like a "romance" novel right from the first word, as so many do.

Overall, this was a very good short novel. The steam technology wasn't all that present but it was obviously being used as a backdrop. Beautifully toned and shows great PROMISE, but I wouldn't call this great just yet.

A strong 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

I'm very interested to see more from this author and even more in this world. A full length novel with more based in the tribe of women would be very intriguing.

Oh and I almost ignored another tribe of women who fight half naked!

Can't forget the girls of "Jersey Shore."

(I received this as a review copy from Netgalley. Thanks Netgalley and Carina Press!)
Profile Image for Mandi.
2,300 reviews722 followers
March 2, 2011
Ever is a warrior and has been patrolling the borders of the Badlands for the past seven years. The Badlands is a separate country, near Texas. It is her job to take the men the United States sends to prison, and keep them secure in the prisons of the Badlands. She is not afraid to kill men - anything to keep her Queen and the Badlands safe. But someone is out to overthrow the monarchy, and soon her Queen is dead. Badly injured, Ever needs to get to Philadelphia to retrieve the princess to restore order, for without a ruler, chaos ensues.

Making a run in his dirigible to the Badlands, Captain Spencer Pierce needs the money he will make off of unloading cargo in this dangerous land. His ship, the Dark Hawk is not really his yet – still owned by Congressman Mason. While making this run, he sees a very badly injured woman, and picks her up to save her. In doing this, he is unable to unload his cargo as the atmosphere is rife with violence. But if he helps Ever recover the princess, he will be compensated, able to secure the Dark Hawk as his. As they go forth in this dangerous mission, they both reluctantly build an attraction.

Badlands starts right in the middle of action. Boom! You are immersed in this steampunk world. For this reason, it took me a little while to grasp the world and exactly who and what Ever is fighting for – but Seleste deLaney soon lays out this world – and it is a really fun one. The Badlands lie south of the United States – ruled by a Monarchy. Ever is one of many female warriors who take the worst of the worst prisoners the US has to offer. However, most of the book takes place aboard the Dark Hawk ship and I kind of wish Badlands had been explored more.

Ever is a fabulous heroine. So fierce, stubborn and smart. No time for frills or feminine behavior – she has an in your face attitude that I loved. She loves the Badlands, and her former Queen and will risk anything to deliver the princess back to her land. Although she is grateful for the help from the Dark Hawk crew, they give her more than she bargained for.

The romance is not rushed and is flows really well. I love how Ever and Spencer each care about their own separate missions yet it is fun to watch the romance slowly become foremost on their minds. For a shorter book, the romance is very believable.

I think there is so much to explore in the actual Badlands I hope there is another book that dives into the world. But for now, I definitely recommend this one.

Rating: B
Profile Image for Alisha.
204 reviews97 followers
March 17, 2011
Rating: 3.5

Quick Take: An imaginative and adventurous read. I greatly enjoyed the world and broader elements of the story, but felt like some of the particulars could have been well-served by further development, or perhaps even omission.

Novellas can be tricky, can't they? The content of such written pieces sometimes fits perfectly with the requisite length, developing a complete story, world and cast, all whilst fostering reader attachments to one or all of those elements. At other times, it's fairly clear that the story just desperately needs more content, either in quality or quantity. I found this tale to be of neither extreme; it was certainly entertaining and intriguing but I finished the book longing for a bit more development of specific elements.

Before delving further into the latter half of that assertion, I'd like to first discuss what I really enjoyed. This book is a steampunk tale set in America, or rather a version of the land mass we would recognize as the U.S. of today. The human/political geography of this world is fascinating, playing on some of the natural features of the landscape and historical conventions to serve as the basis for the book's main adventure. Swaths of the Southwest are what's known as the Badlands, under a sort of monarchical rule and secured by highly skilled and deadly women. The ways in which the author played with her world such that the overall dynamics were at once recognizable and fantastical were quite a joy to discover.

Now, I love romances and I love adventures, so I can appreciate a book that balances the two. This tale would not fall completely into either camp, nor should it. The combination provided a change in the pacing every so often, breaking up the intense turn of events with something softer, more identifiable.

In my personal opinion (always to be taken with a grain of salt, as you well know by now), the book could have supported a longer form. As it was, there were some plot developments that were quite sudden or random, some details that would have been compelling if delved into further. Main character Ever's intense fear of robotics, for instance; it didn't seem to be very relevant to the plot, nor did it develop the character beyond the strictly factual. In shorter tales where "space is limited," one would imagine each and every inclusion is there for some specific reason. But I dunno; I'm not a doctor. ^_^

All told, I really did enjoy this book, and I truly hope the author dips back into the world for another story or five. ^_^ It could support the future tales of many fascinating characters and riveting adventures.
Profile Image for ᴥ Irena ᴥ.
1,649 reviews213 followers
May 13, 2013
I am not rating how this is written or the story. The book made me so angry that I don't even want to think about how it is written or anything.

Ever is the dumbest character I've come across. Let's see: her land is attacked, her queen is killed and she, as a really tough warrior, has an obligation to secretly get to the heir and bring her home. And what does she do? First, when she is saved by Spencer's crew, she argues about her clothes. At that moment in the story she is half naked, by the way. Next, she places his crew at risk. Not even a hint of secrecy or something which would show her as someone who should have been entrusted with her task. And the worst thing of all: she is judgemental. This book made me so angry. The connection between them is unbelievable. If Ever has too much pride, Spencer has none.

Maybe the story is too short, maybe they needed more time to develop whatever they were supposed to develop, but I doubt I would enjoy a longer version.
Profile Image for Mrs. Badass.
566 reviews225 followers
April 14, 2011
For a Novella, this was great. I would LOVE to see this world explored more fully. I am completely interested in learning more about the Badlands. The majority of this novel took place aboard the Dark Hawk Ship, manned by Captain Spencer Pierce. Amongst the crew; Henri {Medic} Zeke {Warrior/Weapons} Noah {Mechanic}.

This novel made subtle references to steam punk, it wasn't all gadgets, gizmos and glorified steam engines.

Moreover, this novel was more Romance based. I liked Ever. She was very strong, and loyal to her lands and queen. The problem I had with Ever lay with Zeke, but you can read for yourself to see how things play out.

Spencer was great for such a short novel. I liked his calm, steadfast mindset.

The romance between Spencer and Ever was believable.

I liked the twists the author threw at us at the end.

Thank goodness for an epilogue!

I hope Seleste DeLaney writes more in this world.
Profile Image for Julie.
535 reviews140 followers
March 18, 2011
Full review originally posted at http://yummymenandkickasschicks.com/?...


I’ve only read one thing written by Seleste deLaney before. One tiny little twenty page short story…that really impressed me. (You can read my review here.) I enjoyed Seleste’s writing voice so much in those twenty little pages that when I saw that she had a novella coming out through Carina Press, I immediately got it…without even a second thought. I wanted to see what Seleste could do with more than a few pages. I wanted to see what she could do with a whole 100 pages! And what I found was that she could do quite well, thank you.

Badlands is about Ever, a Commader in the Badlands military and her mission to bring home the heir to the throne after the Queen gets killed during an uprising. Ever climbs up the side of a cliff, flags down a ship and tells its captain that she needs his assistance. Thank goodness Captain Spencer Pierce agreed to help her out; otherwise this wouldn’t be much of a book! ;)

Ever. What a fabulous name! She was a strong and likable character. I liked her strength throughout this whole story and I liked how layered her character was, even though this was a shorter story.

Captain Spencer Pierce was nice. What I mean by that is that he was niiiice. I liked him with Ever. I only wish their initial attraction was more developed. There is a tender side to Spencer that was nice to see with Ever, and a tender, almost vulnerable side to Ever that she showed Spencer. Like I said, I liked them together.

Badlands itself is a pretty neat sounding place. I would have loved to know more about it though. In fact, almost everything I know about it is from the blurb. I understand that this is a novella and therefore the story and the characters have to be the focus, but I would have really enjoyed learning more about the setting itself.

The pace was good. And just as you get comfortable reading this little story and think that, since you are approaching the end of the book, you are pretty clear on what is going on…Bam! a mystery starts up and who you think is responsible isn’t really responsible so you’re left wondering what’s going on?! I loved that. Very well done Seleste.

And the ending…it made my heart hurt. And let me just say that thank goodness there was an Epilogue. Otherwise I would have been a little sad and a lot bitter. I probably would have cursed Seleste a lot a little. When you read it, you’ll understand exactly what I mean.

I wasn’t 100% sure what to rate this book when I just finished it (I never thought bad though, don’t get me wrong). But I found myself still thinking about it the next day and I even spoke to a couple of people about it on Twitter. That’s when I realized that yes, this was a very good novella – one that I would recommend to anyone who likes a slight Steampunk twist to their romance, who likes a strong lead heroine and who enjoys a little “wow, I didn’t see that coming” in their tales.

4 stars
Profile Image for Kelly.
4,913 reviews170 followers
December 5, 2013
I always listen to music when I read. Actually, I just always listen to music. While I was reading this book, the song Ghost Town by Shiny Toy Guns came on and started circling in my head. Over and over and over. It was just a few lines of it, but they fit so perfectly that I couldn't shake it.

These are the badlands, the worst place to fear, making graves for the ones we left here.

Perfect. I love it when things like that happen.

This book starts off with a bang and sends us on a high-flying quest into enemy territory to rescue the princess. Being steampunk, we get dirigibles, clockwork critters, corsets, and some uptight morality. We also get one immodest warrior woman who has no problem walking around naked.

All in all, it was a fun little jaunt on an airship with some good battles, some hot glances and some repressed desires. Quick, fun and bloody. Just the way I like it.

-Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal
Profile Image for Kasie.
77 reviews5 followers
December 30, 2014
Badlands by Seleste deLaney is a novella and the first in her series Badlands. I’m not sure what compelled me to pick this up. It’s short so I won’t say it was a horrible waste of time. Entertaining for the most part but it felt rushed and hard to put together.

This must have received some good feedback though because it was turned into a series with the second being released this year. Please note I don’t often read novellas, so I may be criticizing something that is normal for this style.

Warning: Spoilers!

Profile Image for Marcela (BookaholicCat).
794 reviews151 followers
March 4, 2011
This review is also published at http://thebookaholiccat.com/

Ever, Commander of the Queen’s Border Guards of the Badlands finds herself in the middle of battle after a surprise attack in their lands. Soon after, she learns that Queen Lavinia has been assassinated. As her duty she needs to bring back as soon as possible the heir to the throne, Princess Laurette who is in Philadelphia. Before the Badlands get affected with more chaos after the dead of their leader the new ruler must be instated.
Ever is gravely injured in battle, but this doesn’t stop her. From the top of a hill she is able to signal an airship, the Dark Hawk, and is brought on board.
Captain Spencer Pierce is in route to the Badlands to make delivery of goods. He needs the money of this delivery to pay off the debt he has with Congressman Mason for the Dark Hawk to be his. After picking up Ever, he learns that the Badlands are under attack and it will be impossible for him to land and finish this run.
Ever asked for his assistance in exchange for the money he needs to pay off the Dark Hawk’s debt. He is intrigue by Ever and maybe a little bit attracted to her too. So he decides to help her and set course toward Philadelphia.
During their trip they will fight more than their attraction; they will fight forces that want them to fail in their mission.

Ever is a very likable character, she is strong and focus, completely loyal to the Queen and the Badlands. She is an Amazon style warrior in all the sense of the word.
Spencer is not your typical hero; he’s a mild mannered man, with a nondescript body but at the same time he has “something” that makes him a very attractive man. The development of their attraction is well pace and realistic.
The supporting characters are a nice complement to the story; they provide us with more than one “what” moment.

My final thought: This short novel was a very entertaining read. I like the steampunk factor. Setting the story in the dirigible Dark Hawk make it different and interesting.
I love the idea of the Badlands’ matriarchy, with its “Amazon” style warriors; I think this was a fresh difference from other books.
I would love for Mrs. DeLaney to have a next installment (full novel length) based more in the Badlands and its female power government.
Profile Image for Book Perfection Perfection.
9 reviews1 follower
May 30, 2012
First of all, major thumbs up for uniqueness. I can honestly say this book is nothing like anything else I have read.

What I loved: The role reversal and the tough heroine.

In this story, Ever, the heroine, is the tough one, the one with weapons, the fighter, the one who has sex with who she wants when she feels like. The hero, Spencer, while not a wuss, is the more passive character, the forgiver, the lover.

I love how this was done. Ever's country, the Badlands (and this appears to take place around the Civil War but with lots of clockwork stuff and ships) has been taken over by prisoners and the queen murdered. It's like a country full of bad ass, tattooed women. Ever has to get the next in line to the throne from Philly. Just when she's on death's door, Spencer sees her from his ship.

There's a jealous woman doctor, a temporary bedmate (see above comment about role reversal), sexual tension, crazy mechanical birds, manipulation, lies, a bad man...

Will Ever be able to use Spencer's ship to get the princess safely back to the Badlands? Or will others stand in their way? And then there is the rising feelings between Spencer and Ever.

I found the name Ever a bit irritating. Especially in those instances where there was "for Ever." I had to do double a take sometimes. I think it was an annoying name choice and I felt at times, the characters were slightly robotic...lack of emotion. However, Ever wasn't exactly a typical emotional female...

A B review from Opal of Book Perfection Reviews

Profile Image for Liz.
585 reviews29 followers
February 20, 2013
This novella was packed with plot and characters that I wouldn't have missed visiting with in a full blown novel. Bravo to a well paced story with great steampunk flavor. It's got some romance too which came on a little quickly but I'll forgive because the pages were short.
Profile Image for Parajunkee.
406 reviews196 followers
February 15, 2011
I think I liked me some steampunk...review to come 2/25/11 on parajunkee.com
Profile Image for Sohvi.
260 reviews12 followers
April 27, 2018
The world was actually interesting and had potential, but the writing was just soooo baaad. The characters actions made absolutely no sense most of the time and while I appreciate trying to write a strong female lead, this backfired big time since she turned out to be scared and submissive whenever Spencer was being hot enough.

In many ways this felt like a first draft instead of a finished book.
Profile Image for Sarah.
1,291 reviews86 followers
July 29, 2017
There might be an interesting story inhere, but the writing is so stilted, the dialogue so wooden, that it's a real slog. The author has tried to make up for the shortcoming in the prose by adding in more flowery descriptors; the effect is that the work feels both under- and overwritten simultaneously.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
533 reviews16 followers
May 14, 2018
It took me a awhile to get into this and I started it months ago and walked away from it. But when I picked it back up, I read the last 50% in a day, so I got into the ending and liked the second half much more than the first.
Profile Image for Caz.
1,102 reviews24 followers
April 17, 2019
The book has a pretty cool world - especially for the short DeLaney had to describe it.

The romance is obviously very rushed but with the book being about 100 pages or so, it's expected.

A cool, quick read.
Profile Image for Ana Mardoll.
Author 7 books387 followers
May 14, 2011
Badlands / 9781426891250

I was excited to pick up "Badlands" on NetGalley based on the fun and original premise: an exciting American Civil War steampunk novel served with a light romance genre sauce! In the end, though, I was a little disappointed that the romance storyline ended up overpowering the rest of the plot, and the neat steampunk elements that served as the backdrop for the story were never really given a chance to shine through.

After the Civil War, America has been fractured into the northern Union, the southern territories, and the western "Badlands". The badlands are ruled by a race of warrior women who serve as guards and executioners for the prisoners that the Union sends out west as "too dangerous" to serve time in their own prisons. When the Badlands queen is murdered, warrior-woman Ever must seek fast passage to Philadelphia to secure the Princess Laurette and bring her back to restore order to the Badlands.

The premise is exciting, but after the excitement of the first few pages, too much of the premise is immediately dropped to focus on the romance elements. From the first chapter, Ever is literally running around topless (and much emphasis is put on her "tight, high" assets) and a huge part of the "conflict" in the first half of the book is the question of where will Ever get more clothes? Will she wear Henri's clothes? Or will she wear Mahala's clothes? Or will she get new clothes from Brigid? And then there is the "tension" of when Ever - who is, of course, utterly set against marriage - immediately falls in love at first site with Captain Spencer Pierce and they're both tormented by the memory of their first meeting when the ship banked and they fell on top of each other, almost kissing. Something like 65% of the novel is Ever and Spencer yearning after each other but never really acting on it, and for me personally it gets boring very quickly.

Fundamentally, I find the character of Ever to be frustrating. She's set up to be a strong, reliable warrior and a relatively competent commander, but she acts like a hot-headed grunt and picks fights wherever she goes. This wouldn't be so bad, except that she almost inevitably ends up getting seriously injured in her fights so that her love interest can literally carry her back to the infirmary. The romance conflict here centers completely around her being totally opposed to love and yet totally aware that her attraction to the Captain is TRUE LOVE and won't wear off after sating herself with him over a few days/weeks/months/years/what-have-you, so she keeps alternating between throwing herself at him and then immediately running away because she doesn't want to be trapped by the TRUE LOVE.

Overall, I enjoyed "Badlands" for what it is, I guess. The price for the eBook version is extremely reasonable, and the ~100 page length kept the story moving and kept me from getting too frustrated at all the belabored romance. I was extremely disappointed that more wasn't done with the original premise and the steampunk setting, but several people do get mauled by clockwork monsters (usually at the point when I couldn't take another page of yearning), so that definitely held my interest. If you love romances and like steampunk, you wouldn't go wrong with checking this out, but do be aware that you're getting way more "romance" for your buck than "steampunk".

NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through NetGalley.

~ Ana Mardoll
Profile Image for Melissa Hayden.
838 reviews118 followers
June 29, 2015
A novella I couldn't put down. A hard woman in a deadly world, full of action, clockworks, and a blooming romance. I really enjoyed!

*****FULL REVIEW*****

When the male criminals along with other men dressed as soldiers attack, Ever has to do what she doesn't want and run from battle. Her focus now as she leaves her female troops fighting, is to bring the Princess home to the Badlands to rule as the Queen was killed. Ever signals the regular supply airship, Dark Hawk, as it arrives, warning against the United States attacking ship and for her escape. Captain Spencer Pierce, working to pay off his ship and on his last trip, picks up the bloodied woman he finds, willing to help her. Ever needs to find Princess Laurette and bring her back safely before the attackers find her, or get to Ever first.

Ever is one hard woman. In this world, she has to be. A world where the United States is divided and she patrols the badlands. The place that the states send their exiled criminals to, and Ever's job is to find them, capture or kill them. She guards from the prisoners getting out and the ones coming in. Ever has many views on men, and is tough on them too. And I like that hardness in her. She is my kinda character.

Ever doesn't approve of marriage, feels it's a distraction to the woman warriors. Reading about Ever reminds me of an Amazon Princess Warrior. She is strong and always ready for a fight, doesn't matter in what degree of dress she is in. These Amazon warrior women are of the steampunk era; not ones armed with god forged weapons - truth lasso, bulletproof bracelets, boomerang golden tiara and such, but with pistols, crossbow, and knives on her belt and in her boots. This is one woman out for the fight, and to win at any cost. Ever is the Wonder Woman of Steampunk in the Badlands.

We start off into action. Quickly we learn Ever needs to leave, and she battles her way out. In this quick start it takes a little to catch who's where and what's happening, but it catches your eye and keeps you flipping to quickly learn what all is present in this world. The quick movement, action, and hardness of Ever kept me enthralled to quickly get to the end to know what happens. I did have a little bit of a time trying to see the world at the very beginning and what exactly Ever's position was, but it is all detailed as you read along, so it will all come to light soon enough.

I slipped right into this story and harsh world. A little romance with steampunk and clockwork along with the threat of death and worry. I kept reading to know what happens, the rest of the world around me falling away bringing me to the harsh rocky quiet of the Badlands.

If you are curious about this character, I highly suggest reading the short story, Just A Man, with Ever on the authors site. If you like hard characters, Ever is the one for you. But you get a taste of her determined and clear thinking in the short story. And hopefully Ever and the Badlands are the story for you.
Profile Image for Pamela / SpazP.
617 reviews121 followers
May 8, 2011
Originally posted at WickedLilPixie Reviews

Steampunk for me is one of those genres, very much like Science Fiction, that I can take or leave. I usually end up reading the genre only if a specific book or series has been recommended to me a billion times that I make an exception. And only if there is some Romance up in there. I have little to no experience with the genre, so I didn’t know what to really expect when I picked up Badlands. Sooo, I might have had to look up a few words in the dictionary like dirigible and tintype /coughcough/ but the setting wasn’t intimidating for me at all. I felt immediately scooped up and placed in to the Badlands along with our heroine Ever.

Badlands starts out action-packed right from the get-go and flowed really fast and smoothly with no data dumping. Longer than a novella, but shorter than a novel, the length was perfect for the story told. And the heroine is sheer solid kickass. Ever is a gritty, bold, (kinda scary) firecracker not afraid to throw down in a bar fight completely outnumbered by men, or take down an enemy dirigible with limited ammo. She has devoted her life to the Queen of Badlands and, in turn, her country. She is not a big talker, she prefers action. Her life gets totally tossed upside down when she meets Captain Spencer Pierce as he pulls her aboard the Dark Hawk… and then laughs in his face! My kinda girl.

Spencer Pierce is our noble hero, honorable, strong, calm, intelligent, but not at all alpha. I’m not sure he would necessarily appeal to me in another story, but he was perfect for Ever. Ever was so overtly dominating that she needed someone to balance and compliment her force. They are immediately drawn to one another, like magnets. Respectfully, he stood back and watched her do her own thing, only supporting her when she absolutely needed it. He admired her, and cherished her from the start, letting her come to him so as not to spook her like a wild animal. The tension between the two built very nicely and felt authentic.

Ms deLaney took some risks with Ever and Badlands, and it paid off. Badlands is a very different kind of love story I thoroughly enjoyed it. I cannot wait to read more stories from in or around the land called Badlands.
Profile Image for The Project.
138 reviews22 followers
March 2, 2011
Badlands is an alternate reality tale set in a different kind of post-Civil War America where the country is divided into unfriendly neighbors. The heroine, Ever, guards her land's borders. She is a warrior, with the tattoos and scars to prove it. An invasion of her territory results in the murder of the Queen, and Ever is tasked with retrieving and protecting Princess Laurette, the heir to the throne, who is in Philadelphia, living life as a normal student.

Reluctantly leaving behind her embattled troops, Ever ends up a passenger on the Dark Hawk, a dirigible captained by Spencer Pierce, a man who just wants to make one last delivery, a commitment that will pay debts owed and transfer ownership of the vessel to him.

Naturally, Ever's arrival throws a wrench in that plan. It's clear that Spencer and Ever are attracted to one another. But Ever's pride and obsession with her mission makes that a connection feel more like a burden to her.

But eventually, the sparks fly between the pair, and high adventure and peril ensue. And Spencer's unexplainable trust in Ever is put to the test when secrets start to surface.

Badlands is an impressive hybrid of Steampunk/Science Fiction/Fantasy, and of course, Romance.

And most of those genres are not my usual reading fare. So upon diving into the story, I was surprised by how easily I became engaged by the plot. The blend is just right. Not too much of any one influence happening. One doesn't overpower the others. Definitely a gentle yet solid introduction to the sub-genres.

Ever is strong and courageous, but also bull-headed, with a tendency to get a little feral in the right circumstances. Spencer is an agreeable hero. He's a subtle man, without much of that Alpha Man stereotype, a fact that kind of annoys Ever. At first. The supporting characters that populate the Dark Hawk are likeable. Not just background noise.

Being new to the steampunk/clockwork scene, I was grateful to the author for painting the scenery well with clear descriptions. I was able to visualize the world she created without wondering if my own brain was veering off in the wrong direction. I found Badlands very entertaining, with love interests that were easy to root for.

--Joey, The One Hundred Romances Project
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Hannah.
659 reviews53 followers
March 5, 2015
The background of Badlands is kind of like an alternative US version of Xena, Warrior Princess, infused with a dabbling of steam technology. Basically, we have tough-as-nails warrior women in various states of undress, brutal brawls to defend friends and country and romance in the skies. It all sounds a little crazy, but it is well-written and Seleste deLaney has an undeniable gift for storytelling. I was incredibly impressed with how smoothly the events flowed, particularly considering the limited length of novellas; so often novellas feel jerky and unfinished. Badlands is very well-paced and atmospheric.

If I had to complain about one thing, it was the flawed worldbuilding. I get the sense that it could have been so much more, had the author taken the time to explain (however briefly) why there was a Badlands in the first place, the reason a royal ruler was even necessary, how the United States interacted with this no man's land beyond using it as a dumping ground for criminals, etc. I particularly had trouble grasping the following: The Badlands was essentially described as a massive natural prison (think Alcatraz, I suppose) where the warrior women acted as prison guards. Fair enough. But if these women acted in that capacity, why then were they so disconnected with the rest of the "civilized" world and behaved basically like Amazonians? The limited knowledge of US-Badlands relations and so on made it exceedingly hard for me to understand what drove the culprits behind the attack on the Badlands queen. On the upside, the personal motivations for the protagonists, Ever and Spencer, were very clear and they never wavered from that. I would have liked there to be more meaning behind the final twist with the reveal of Ever's true identity, but that's a minor complaint.

All in all, Badlands is a satisfying, complete read that didn't feel so awfully short and unfinished as novellas are wont to do. A few issues keep it from being stellar, but it's an enjoyable alternative historical romance story that should please fans of the genre.
Profile Image for Nicole.
1,523 reviews173 followers
March 3, 2011

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!
Profile Image for Nicole.
1,078 reviews4 followers
July 31, 2013
I really enjoyed the premise of this story, and the two main characters. I liked the world development, and the pacing. There are only two things that held it back from a five-star rating, and this is what:

1. (most important) I started listening to the audio book version of this one, but just couldn't get into it. The reader didn't do it for me. Her voice kept lilting up at the end of sentences, and for one reason or another that just bugged me. Also, when we got to the more romantic scenes, I didn't enjoy hearing her read them to me. Whether I just need to read (instead of listen to) all romance novels, or whether I need to find a different reader for romances I don't know.

2. (minor annoyance) I couldn't place the geography of a country I should have known well. It's set in the US, so I feel I should know where things are. However, I have no idea where the Badlands are situated within the continent. This may also be related to the fact that I was listening to the book instead of reading it, but since I have yet to see an ebook with a map included, I don't think reading would have helped either.

My favorite part, hands down, has to be Spencer. He is an awesome character, and is exactly what I would want from an airship captain. I loved that he wasn't the stereotypical fighter pilot type, nor the usual mercenary type. He was perfect.

I did enjoy the rest of the crew, the plot, and the steampunk aspects of the novel as well, but if I had to pick one reason to re-read this book, it would be Spencer.
Profile Image for Tien.
1,835 reviews69 followers
January 20, 2011
Ever of the Badlands is Commander of the Queen’s Border Guard. When the Queen was murdered during the attack on Badlands, Ever must abandon her fight to escape and bring back the heir to the throne. She succeeded in flagging the Dark Hawk and was brought on board.

Captain Spencer Pierce needed to complete this run to the Badlands to enable him to pay off the Dark Hawk but this is now that he can’t land in Badlands to make his delivery, this is an unlikely event. On top of that, Ever has requested his assistance in her mission albeit with a promised payment to enable him to pay off his debt but other things at play than just a rescue mission...

I didn’t have much expectation when I started reading – all I had was the publisher’s blurb which basically described the story. However, once I started reading, I got right into it. The world was a different place; it was tough and rough but also full of hope and promises. It was a fast and easy read for me because I really enjoyed it. I love the tension and the suspense; just electrifying.

I have to confess I have never been inclined to try sci-fi romance and whilst Badlands is more steampunk romance, it is my first and it has been a wonderful ride. My only complaint? It was too short! “Please sir, I want some more.” I truly hope there will be a next instalment or two... or three (!!) on this wonderfully created world.
Profile Image for April.
1,839 reviews66 followers
June 27, 2011
RATING: 4.5)BADLANDS by Seleste Delaney is an interesting fantasy/science fiction set after a Civil War in America that divides the land. It is a fast paced,page turning story of passion,
betrayal,trust,sweet sensuality,allies,enemies,action,adventure,romance, and love.
Ever is the commander of her nations border guards and a fierce warrior. She is the queen's protector,but when her nation is attracked by aircraft and her Queen killed,she must find the next Queen,the Queen's daughter. This takes her into the domain of Captain Spencer Pierce, the captain of the Dark Hawk.While Spencer only wants to pay off his debt and retain ownership of his beloved Dark Hawk,he must help Ever to find the Queen's daughter and get her safety back to the Badlands to regain order. Together as reluctant allys, Ever and Spencer must fight unknown enemies,face danger,fight their growing attraction and their passion for each other. Ever only wants to get back to the Badlands with her new Queen and Spencer only wants to deliver her safely back to the Badlands. While they are both fighting their growing attraction,one is fighting to protect her Badlands the other his protection his ship and crew.But they must work together after being betrayed in order to survive and bring order back to the Badlands. This is a quick,fun read.
This book was recieved for the purpose of review from Net Galley and the publisher and details can be found at Carina Press and My Book Addiction Reviews.
Profile Image for Rhianna.
459 reviews86 followers
April 26, 2011
Romantic American Steampunk

Mash up great steampunk elements into Civil War Americana, make women as tough as nails and throw in a weak splash of adventure and you'll get Badlands. The blurb pretty much says everything that could be said to summarize this novella length story.

Ever is one really strong heroine and Spencer makes a terrific hero. Their attraction wasn't fully felt by me as a reader, there was a hurriedness to it that frustrated me. I think if given more time to develop it would have been much more enjoyable as I very much liked both characters. The sexual tension element was palpable and could have really come to a proper crescendo if it had been built up over several more chapters.

I loved the world deLaney presented in Badlands but it felt so very shadowed, not enough was given to really make a reader get the motivations of the characters. Even still I managed to enjoy what was there and would definitely read more of this particular flavor of steampunk. My biggest complaint overall is one I am finding myself giving frequently on novella length steampunk stories... not long enough! With great secondary characters and the appeal of post-Civil War America as a canvas I would recommend this one for fans of the genre looking for something a bit out-of-the-box.
***Received Review Copy via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Jenn Baker.
29 reviews8 followers
May 17, 2011
Seleste has definitely shown herself as a strong storyteller with this story. I love her alternate history of the Americas after the Civil War, including the different ways how each region reacts to Ever and her self confidence in herself and her body. Seleste did a wonderful job of showing the pros and cons of the clockwork mechanisms. How important they were for certain tasks but also how they could be used against other people.

The characters in this story were amazing. Their depth of personality and history blew me away. I enjoyed the cast of characters that were found on the Dark Hawk ship. I found myself telling Ever to not judge a book by it’s cover, when she believed that Spencer wasn’t a strong enough leader. Their relationship was an enjoyable journey.

I would love to see off shoot stories about the other characters. I would hope that they all could find their own Happily Ever After. I also hope that there will be more stories from the Badlands. They are a strong Matriarchal society, much like the Amazons, and it takes a strong society to develop in to that. I would love to read about their history and how they came to be the society they are.

If you are new to the world of Steampunk novels, I would recommend this as your first. It is a good one to read to get your “toes” wet in the genre.
Profile Image for Rosario.
875 reviews57 followers
July 11, 2013
*sigh* I loved the idea of this book. It's steampunk set in North America post the American Civil War. As far as I could tell, in this version of reality, the country split and in between the previously warring factions there's a strip of land called the Badlands. It's a matriarchy ruled by a Queen who is attacked and killed as the book starts. The heroine, Ever, is one of her guard, and her first priority becomes getting to the heiress to the Crown and protecting her. To do so, she needs help from Spencer, who captains an airship which happens to be in the area.

The execution just didn't work for me at all. Ever is just a completely nonsensical character. She’s supposed to be this experienced, seasoned warrior, a leader, with a crucial mission she needs to accomplish as soon as humanly possible. But she acts like a mindless, brutish idiot. She keeps picking fights, making trouble and seems always on the verge of changing ships (thus losing loads of time) for the most stupid reasons, like whether she can wear her clothes on the dirigible! Plus, I didn't feel the romance. There was no chemistry that I could perceive, so when they start going “oh, the yearning!”, it feels silly and tedious.

Bah, it was a short one, at barely 100 pages, but after reading about half of it I decided to cut my losses.

Profile Image for Seriously Reviewed.
80 reviews6 followers
May 18, 2012
After a brutal Civil War, America is a land divided. As commander of her nation's border guards, Ever is a warrior sworn to protect her country and her queen. When an airship attacks and kills the monarch, Ever must infiltrate enemy territory to bring home the heir to the throne, and the dirigible Dark Hawk is her fastest way to the Union.
Captain Spencer Pierce just wants to pay off the debt he owes on the Dark Hawk and make a life for himself trading across the border. When the queen's assassination puts the shipping routes at risk, he finds himself Ever's reluctant ally.
As they fly into danger, Ever and Spencer must battle not only the enemy but also their growing attraction. She refuses to place her heart before duty, and he has always put the needs of his ship and crew above his own desires. Once the princess is rescued, perhaps they can find love in the Badlands—if death doesn't find them first

This isn't the first story I've read by Seleste DeLaney, I've also managed to read GunShy, which is apart of the 'Cupid's Conquest' series. She's a talented writer with great world building skills. The relationship between Ever and Spencer had me on the edge of my seat and I liked how the action unfolded, you should really check it out
Profile Image for Julie-anne.
297 reviews9 followers
June 9, 2013
Ever gets interrupted pre dinner party by a siren going off at the fortress. The prisoners have escaped and are fighting their way free. When she and her guards get there, she hears of the queen's assassination and realises she must find the princess heir to the throne. She ends up aboard the Dark Hawk and finds herself strangely attracted to the captain but she must fight her attraction and get on with her mission. But can she stop herself if he's also attracted to her?

I loved this story so much. Loved Ever and especially loved the world Seleste has built for the characters. It's just my type of place (without the war and fighting), the steampunk/clockwork style that she's going for just reminded me of Return to Oz. I like the steampunk look so I had no problem with the imagery. Hmmm, I wonder if I could have found a new Hallowe'en costume?

I may be wrong here, but knowing the author likes a certain space-cowboy Captain, I felt there was a bit of Firefly/Serenity influence going on as well. Whether there was or not, does not change my opinion of the book, it was fun to read and I didn't want it to end. In fact, I'm still disappointed that it was over so soon.
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