Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Early Review of Skies of Fire (The Ether Chronicles, #1) by Zoe Archer

"Can something be both marvelous and terrible?"
She gazed at him. "Love."

Someone once said, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." In the case of  Louisa Shaw nothing could be truer. Three years ago she'd run away from her fear and abandoned a wonderful man without a word. She just up and left. A woman who could face death in the face on a daily basis was afraid of a little thing called love...

Captain Christopher Redmond had lost his heart three years ago and it was returned broken. Devastated by the loss, he decided to dedicate himself to his country and made the transition to a Man O' War. Man O' War is not a title, but a transition to that of something stronger than an average man. It is the merging of man with a rare metal called telumium. The metal "stimulated his adrenal glands, making him stronger and faster than an ordinary man, and sharpened his senses." It also tied him to his air ship, "his flesh powered the batteries that ran the engines, a reaction which created the ether that kept the ship aloft." The telumium produced a massive amount of energy and his ship was the means he used to release it.

While attempting to avoid the enemy fire, Captain Redmond and his crew were forced to go deep into enemy territory. As luck would have it, his crew spotted the distress signal from a British Naval Intelligence agent. As fate would have it, that agent would be the woman he never expected to see again--Louisa. Now the two will need to work closely together to utilize enemy intelligence she gathered because, if acted upon quickly, it could tip the scales of the war in their favor and save countless lives.

This was a fun and fast paced story. It had a hero to swoon for and a heroine who, while brilliant in the field, seemed to not know when she had a good thing. Louisa was smart, cool under pressure and  independent. It was fun to see how she and Christopher (aka Kit) dealt with living in such close proximity to each other on the ship. The attraction charged the ether, and we had to wait a while before the romance erupted into a full blown sizzling affair which practically scorched my Kindle. 

Aside from the romance, there was a plenty of action and suspense in this one. I liked the world Ms. Archer created with Man at Wars, airships, clockwork mechanisms and automatons. I also loved the loyalty and respect Christopher's crew displayed for him. Plus, I enjoyed the little peeks we got into the relationship between Louisa and Christopher three years prior.   

Some (not all) of my favorite quotes/lines/moments:

- 'Love, however was a rocky shore, full of uncertainty and hidden peril. No wonder so many men took to the sea or the skies. Easier when you knew the enemy would simply shoot at you, rather than sneak up with silken touches beating heart and then rip your beating heart from your chest.'

"The wonders of science." (You've got to read the book to appreciate this one. It had me chuckling)

- "Brace yourself and grip your bollocks tight, men."
   "Twenty seconds," Louisa said. "And I don't have bollocks."
   "You can hold onto mine."

- "I've been a sailor, a captain of a seafaring ship, then a captain in Her Majesty's Aerial Navy. But I'm so much more when I'm with you."  

Why is the book entitled 'Skies of Fire'? I believe because of this little exchange:
"You were at the Battle of Rouen. I read about it. It must have been..." She shook her head. "I cannot begin to fathom what it was like."
"The skies were made of fire. And the ground was aflame."

Overall I gave this one 3 1/2 out of 5 roses. I kind of wish we'd been given more of a hint to the time frame. Going by the Battle of Rouen reference, I'm going to guesstimate this story is the alternate reality for the early to mid 1400's. As I read an advanced reader copy of the book a time period may be included in the final version. Also, I would have liked to have had a little more background on the war presently being fought. Other than that the only other thing I would have liked is for it to be longer. I enjoyed it and was sad to finish it. I look forward to seeing how the next book will fit into the series. On the Lisa Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a SHOWER rating - a cold shower is necessary (need I say more?). Some books should come with a warning - make sure your significant other is handy or your shower is in working order. lol

Fun note: At the end of my eBook ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) it stated the next book in The Ether Chronicles series will be written by Nico Rosso, Zoe's husband. I could find no title. On Nico's website ( http://nicorosso.com/Home.html ) he states, "I'm also working on two steampunk Westerns for Avon Impulse. These are part of the Ether Chronicles, a world created by me and my wife, Zoe Archer. She'll be writing the European side of the steampunk tales while I'm handling the West. It's very exciting working on these projects with Zoe, just imagine us leaping about the apartment, enacting scenes on battling airships."  (The last part made me smile.)

Photos of the Carpathian Mountains found on Photobucket:


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