Skies of Fire is the first in The Ether Chronicles, a new Steampunk Romance series from Zoe Archer and the first eARC I have received since signings up with Edelweiss. Both Zoe Archer and her husband, Nico Rosso will be writing stories in this series. His will be Steampunk Westerns and Zoe’s will be Steampunk Everywhere Else. The fact that there would be another husband and wife team writing in a series caught my attention.
Here is what Goodreads says about Skies of Fire.
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.
Skies of Fire is novella length and was a quick and easy read. Here are my though after reading the story.
Characters: Christopher and Louisa have to carry the story and with the short length the side characters are just that, mostly names and titles. I did learn a lot about both Christopher and Louisa. There were gaps in their development but those were a result of the story length and did not affect my overall enjoyment.
World Building: Zoe had to do a lot of world building in a short time. Some of the background history is just touched on. England is at war and has developed the technology that allows people to be turned into Man O’ Wars. They are part metal and this allows them to power airships. That part is well developed but background history of this time is sketchy. Again it did not affect the story and I expect more will be revealed in future stories.
Plot: This is pretty standard but still enjoyable and with some twists. Christopher and Louisa have a history but did not part on the best of terms. He and his airship are behind enemy lines when he sees someone in trouble and detours to help. It is Louisa who he rescues and is then pulled into helping her with her mission. Everything flows from that rescue.
Conflict: There is plenty of conflict, both the conflict between Christopher and Louisa and the conflict generated by the mission. Both are enough to keep the story moving.
Pacing: There was conflict and then a small rest to let both the characters and the reader catch their breath. The story flowed evenly each action and reaction keeping my attention. There was just enough of each to keep everything moving in a believable direction.
All in all it was a fun story to read and I am looking forward to other stories in the Ether Chronicles. When I went to Amazon I found the price for Skies of Fire was right, $1.99 for the Kindle edition. It is slightly more for the paper copy.
Avon Impulse published Skies of Fire by Zoe Archer in 2012.