BADLANDS BY SELESTE DELANEY
Heat Level: Smoky
Word Count: 33,000
Genre: Steampunk Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
After a brutal Civil War, America is a land divided. As commander of her nation's border guards, Ever is a warrior sworn to protect her country and her queen. When an airship attacks and kills the monarch, Ever must infiltrate enemy territory to bring home the heir to the throne, and the dirigible Dark Hawk is her fastest way to the Union.
Captain Spencer Pierce just wants to pay off the debt he owes on the Dark Hawk and make a life for himself trading across the border. When the queen's assassination puts the shipping routes at risk, he finds himself Ever's reluctant ally.
As they fly into danger, Ever and Spencer must battle not only the enemy but also their growing attraction. She refuses to place her heart before duty, and he has always put the needs of his ship and crew above his own desires. Once the princess is rescued, perhaps they can find love in the Badlands—if death doesn't find them first...
First of all, major thumbs up for uniqueness. I can honestly say this book is nothing like anything else I have read.
What I loved: The role reversal and the tough heroine.
In this story, Ever, the heroine, is the tough one, the one with weapons, the fighter, the one who has sex with who she wants when she feels like. The hero, Spencer, while not a wuss, is the more passive character, the forgiver, the lover.
I love how this was done. Ever's country, the Badlands (and this appears to take place around the Civil War but with lots of clockwork stuff and ships) has been taken over by prisoners and the queen murdered. It's like a country full of bad ass, tattooed women. Ever has to get the next in line to the throne from Philly. Just when she's on death's door, Spencer sees her from his ship.
There's a jealous woman doctor, a temporary bedmate (see above comment about role reversal), sexual tension, crazy mechanical birds, manipulation, lies, a bad man...
Will Ever be able to use Spencer's ship to get the princess safely back to the Badlands? Or will others stand in their way? And then there is the rising feelings between Spencer and Ever.
I found the name Ever a bit irritating. Especially in those instances where there was "for Ever." I had to do double a take sometimes. I think it was an annoying name choice and I felt at times, the characters were slightly robotic...lack of emotion. However, Ever wasn't exactly a typical emotional female...