Monday, April 2, 2012

Unwrapping: Review of SKIES OF FIRE: the Ether Chronicles by Zoë Archer

Steampunk Romance? I have to say that even though I've heard of Steampunk I wasn't totally sure I knew what it was. So when Avon sent me an eARC of the new soon-to-be released Steampunk Romance novella, SKIES OF FIRE: the Ether Chronicles by Zoë Archer, I decided to do a little research.

STEAMPUNK, according to Wikipedia, is a genre which came into prominence during the 1980's and early 1990's and incorporates elements of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, horror, and speculative fiction. It involves a setting where steam power is widely used—whether in an alternate history such as Victorian era Britain or "Wild West"-era United States, or in a post-apocalyptic time —that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology, or futuristic innovations as Victorians might have envisioned them, based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art. This technology includes such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne.

Well, after reading this, my thoughts went to graphic novel movies such as LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN and even HELLBOY. Okay, I liked both those movies, I love science fiction, I love fantasy, I love horror, and I'm fascinated with the concept of an alternate history. I'm a huge fan of H. G. Wells and I've read all of the works by Jules Verne. The question remained as to how I would like a mixture of these elements and my beloved Romance. When I first saw this cover posted on Avon's FB page, I was immediately caught by the name, the fact that it was going to be part of a chronicles (immediately made me think sci-fi), and that it was HOT! Never did I expect it to be such an edge of the seat adventure with an amazing hot steamy romance that will have you wishing you could reach into the story and push the hero and heroine together, and say, "Get over it already and KISS!"

Blurb for SKIES OF FIRE by Zoë Archer:

Man made of metal and flesh ...

Captain Christopher Redmond has just one weakness: the alluring spy who loved and left him years before…when he was still just a man. Now he's superhuman—a Man O' War, made as part of the British Navy's weapons program—and his responsibility is to protect the skies of Europe. If only he could forget Louisa Shaw.

A most inconvenient desire ...

Louisa, a British Naval Intelligence agent, has never left a job undone. But when her assignment is compromised, the one man who can help her complete her mission is also the only man ever to tempt her body and heart. As burning skies loom and passion ignites, Louisa and Christopher must slip behind enemy lines if they are to deliver a devastating strike against their foe . . . and still get out alive.

                *                      *                   *                   *                   *                   *

Captain Christopher Redmond is a man who had his heart broken by the only woman he ever loved enough to want to marry. When this woman disappeared from his life without any explanation, he turned his concentration on what mattered the most - the protection of his British homeland. As a Naval Officer, he knew his duty and when offered a chance to serve his country to the utmost, he took it even though the cost of such an opportunity would be greater than he expected. Christopher allowed his body to be altered through the implantation of the element, Telumium, that would make him stronger, faster, and turn him into one of Britain's greatest weapons, a Man O' War.  He and his airship, the Demeter, which he is forever connected to not only as her Captain but as her power source, along with his loyal crew, fight the enemy in the air over the Carpathian Mountains. It's after a fierce battle, which they only manage to survive because of his innate talents and superhuman abilities along with a brave and loyal crew, that they discover a distress signal below them on the ground - far behind enemy lines.

Louisa Shaw has been undercover for months gathering information about the German's plans for increasing their firepower so as to be able to devastate her British homeland. When an informant brings her vital information, they find themselves double-crossed and surrounded by German troops. The informant is killed and Louisa is sure her time is short. She decides to keep one bullet for herself if she should fail to escape this dire situation. She has no faith that her signal was even seen much less that help would come. So it is a double surprise when help does arrive and the man leading the rescue is the last man on earth she expected and the only one who could melt her heart with just a look.

Christopher and Louisa face off in a situation where both must meet their regrets, their fears, and their still fiery desire for each other even as they set about to form a plan to destroy a German munitions plant hidden deep within the mountains. They don't know which mountain but together they solve the problem. They're not sure how they will even get inside the munitions plant much less destroy it without destroying themselves at the same time but they work together to solve the problem. It's working together, as they gain a new found respect for each other's abilities, that brings the pair closer together than either want but neither can resist. Their ultimate goal is to protect Britain and get the Demeter and her crew home even though both know that this plan will probably end as a suicide mission.

Zoë Archer has created an alternate history that feels as real and as dangerous as the real historical timeline. Her descriptions and sensory teasing bring this world of supermen and airships with unusual weaponry to life. The romance between Christopher and Louisa is an old one but it takes only a few sparks to make it flare to full brightness as the pair work side by side to complete this mission that may end with everyone making the ultimate sacrifice.

SKIES OF FIRE by Zoë Archer is an action-packed novella introducing us to the world of the Ether Chronicles. From beginning to end, this skillfully written novella transports us to a world so similar to our own yet so different. The story keeps us enthralled through the dangers and thrills of the mission as well as the re-ignited passionate love between Christopher and Louisa that they slowly come to realize has managed to survive after three years of separation.

I know many of my readers are not fans of the unusual whether it be paranormal, sci-fi, or steampunk but if you're willing to give this novella a try, I believe you will find yourself a convert to a new and exciting Romance genre. SKIES OF FIRE by Zoë Archer is the perfect start to a new Romance love and I recommend it for an exciting reading experience with some of the hottest and steamiest Romance you can imagine.

Happy Reading Everyone!

SKIES OF FIRE: the Ether Chronicles by Zoë Archer, an Avon Impulse release coming tomorrow, April 3, 2012 to ereaders everywhere! ASIN: B007BCF49C  Available in print on April 17, 2012.



The_Book_Queen said...

Great review. :) I've heard of Steampunk, but never really read much in it (I think one book, maybe, a few years back...not sure though). BUT, I'm always up to trying new things! :) I'll be putting this author on my list, espeically for this new series.

Thanks for sharing!
TBQ's Book Palace

Amy Valentini said...

She's a wonderful writer, TBQ, and I am thrilled to have been exposed to such a wonderful genre. I had know idea what I was missing. : )