Release Date: 10/9/12
In the world of The Ether Chronicles, the Mechanical War rages on, and appearances are almost always deceiving . . .
The prim professor
Daphne Carlisle may be a scholar, but she's far more comfortable out in the field than lost in a stack of books. Still, when her parents are kidnapped by a notorious warlord, she knows she'll need more than quick thinking if she is to reach them in time. Daphne's only hope for getting across enemy territory is an airship powered and navigated by Mikhail Denisov, a rogue Man O' War who is as seductive as he is untrustworthy.
The jaded mercenary
Mikhail will do anything for the right price, and he's certain he has this mission—and Daphne—figured out: a simple job and a beautiful but sheltered Englishwoman. But as they traverse the skies above the Mediterranean and Arabia, Mikhail learns the fight ahead is anything but simple, and his lovely passenger is not entirely what she seems. The only thing Mikhail is certain of is their shared desire—both unexpected and dangerous.
My thoughts on the book:
I am going to be honest. I requested this book from Edelweiss simply because the guy on the cover had a mohawk, and I have a weakness for punk guys. I didn't know anything about this novel when I began reading it, but I was pleasantly surprised. This is a steam punk novel, not punk rock, but Mikhail still puts the punk in steam punk. Skies of Steel had excellent world-building, two great leading characters, and a captivating and action-packed plot. I couldn't put this book down.
Mikhail and Daphne both were terrific main characters. Mikhail had that tortured thing going on, but he wasn't angsty. He was strong and rebellious, but he had a good heart. I completely adored him. Daphne was completely kick ass. She didn't rely on a man for anything, and if it came down to doing what she felt she was supposed to do or giving up everything for a guy? She did what she felt she was supposed to do. I really admired that about her. My one complaint about this book is that the secondary characters were not developed at all. I would have loved to have gotten to know Mikhail's crew better. As it stands, all the secondary characters were simply filler characters, and I didn't like that.
One of the things that totally blew me away was the amount of research Archer put into this book. How she characterized the field of anthropology at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century was spot on. At that time, the field was basically known as salvage anthropology. Daphne stated that she enjoyed documenting cultures before they were crushed under the wheels of modernity, and that was an actual quote from that time period. Of course, we now know that these cultures can sustain the supposed modernity and that the ideas of primitive vs. modern are problematic within themselves. Daphne, being the advanced girl that she is, hints at that by stating that cultures can adapt and change and grow into something even greater. The accuracy regarding this field of study for that specific time period really made the book so much more enjoyable and realistic for me.
The plot was full of action and suspense. I really didn't know if Mikhail and Daphne would both make it out of this alive, or if they'd end up together. Because of that, I was forced to keep reading. I had to know how the story ended! There were a lot of battles and close calls that kept up the feeling of suspense for the whole 100 pages. The other complaint I have is that I wish this book had been longer. The pacing was perfect, and I didn't feel cheated out of anything, but I wanted more of Mikhail and Daphne! They were great.
The romance was kind of sweet and kind of steamy. This wasn't erotica, but there was sex in it (obviously). I liked that the characters got to know each other AND had a mutual attraction. I don't really enjoy books where the characters just screw each others' brains out with no actual feelings other than lust involved. This book had some depth, though, and I liked that.
The word-building was excellent as well. Archer didn't describe too much, so I didn't get bored and irritated with the descriptions, but she shared enough details that I could easily picture the world she created. I love the idea of a "bionic man," and the author explained the side effects of becoming a Man O' War, but she didn't go into depth about the scientific explanation, which I found refreshing. I hate when authors try to make scientific sense of things that aren't scientific, and since I'm no scientist, I don't care how things work as long as they do, haha. Obviously when reading a work of fiction, one must willingly suspend disbelief. That was easily accomplished with this novel due to Archer's excellent research.
Basically, I'd recommend this book to fans of adult romances and fans of steam punk. It's a short, quick, and enjoyable read. You don't want to miss the fantastic world that Archer has created!
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