- Title: Skies of Steel: The Ether Chronicles
- Classification: Adult Fiction
- Genre: Steampunk/Romance
- Format: Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Avon Impulse (November 6, 2012)
- ISBN-10: 0062218158
- ISBN-13: 978-0062218155
Notes: I bought this one.
"Your search has ended, zaika." His voice was heavily accented, deep as a cavern. "Here I am."...
"How do you know it's you I seek?"
With one broad finger, he tapped his ear. The pendant hanging from his lobe swung slightly with the movement. "These tell me everyone's secrets."
"What are your secrets, zaika?" Without straightening from his sprawl, he looked her up and down in bold perusal...
"I have no secrets," she lied.
A corner of his mouth turned up. "Everyone does. The fun is trying to discover what they are."
"I wonder at your definition of fun," she said, raising an eyebrow.
"No need to simply wonder." His smile turned blatantly carnal. "You can find out for yourself."
Daphne Carlisle's parents are archaeologists who were working on a dig in the Arabian Peninsula when Telumium, a rare metal used in the making of Man O' Wars, was discovered in the area. Caught up in the chaos that erupted as warring countries vied to gain control of the precious metal, her parents were kidnapped. Now in order to save them she'll need to travel to the war ravaged country to try to bargain for their release. To do that she needs to hire an airship to transport her into the region. Her only hope is to hire Captain Mikhail Mikhailovich Denisov, a rogue Man O' War, and his crew. She'll have to convince him she'll make the trip worth their wild. For his services can be bought for the right prices. The only thing is is that Mikhail was right about Daphne having a secret, and when that secret gets out it may cost her dearly, but it's a risk she's willing to take.
This is the third book in The Ether Chronicles. It can be read out of order and you won't feel you missed anything. I don't believe any characters from the previous books were in this one, so you won't feel you missed something.
Daphne for the most part is a trustworthy soul. Due to the situation she faces, however, she's desperate to save her parents and will stop at nothing to do so. Even if it means risking her own life, lying or stealing. She's fiercely loyal and feels bad lying to Mikhail, but she sees no other viable alternative. She needs to get to her parents. She has no idea what the kidnappers want, but she's willing to pay any price. Deception is just the tip of the iceberg.
Mikhail was once a highly decorated officer in the Russian army, but something happened to cause him to go rogue. While he doesn't see it himself, he's a loyal and trustworthy person. The folly that led to his desertion has haunted him and he doesn't deny his own fault. He's paid dearly as his family has disowned him because of it and won't answer any of the correspondence he sends them via secret channels. He's a bit of a broken soul.
Daphne intrigues him as he intrigues her. She's smart, intelligent and unlike most of the woman he's ever met. She's not easily intimidated and stands her ground. She constantly surprises him and says what she means and means what she says. When her betrayal is revealed he takes it personally. He can understand why she did it, but that doesn't lessen the blow.
When Daphne finally meets with her parents' kidnappers, she finds they want her to steel an artifact from one of their rivals. Daphne and Mikhail will need to use both their brains and skills to get past obstacles and guards who block their way. I loved how they worked together to achieve their goal and managed to find a way of ultimately turn the tables on the kidnappers.
Overall, this one gets 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. I enjoyed the mixture of action, drama, and romance. I loved both the main characters. Additionally, I loved the way the two seemed to compliment each other in strength and wit when trying to steel the artifact. What one lacked the other made up for. Their hunt for the artifact was my favorite portion of the book. It reminded me a touch of the Indiana Jones movies only without the monkey brains, bugs, and snakes. On the Lisarenee romance rating scale, this one gets a STEAM--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.