Archer, Zoë. Skies of Fire. Avon Impulse. (Ether Chronicles, Bk. 1). Apr. 2012. 224p. eISBN 9780062109149. EPUB $1.99. STEAMPUNK ROMANCE
Capt. Christopher Redmond of HMS Demeter leads his crew in battle in the skies over Europe as a “Man O’War,” a soldier surgically adapted with telumium implants to be faster and stronger than the average man. The energy created by the amalgamation of man and metal fuels the ship and keeps it aloft as the British Navy wars with the encroaching Habsburg Empire. But however physically fit Redmond is, his heart still aches over the loss of his lover, Louisa Shaw, who left him without a reason way back when he was still an ordinary man. During a battle in which they are outnumbered, outgunned, and behind enemy lines, Redmond and his crew witness a gun battle in a nearby town and receive a signal for assistance from a British Naval Intelligence officer on the ground. During the assault to rescue the officer, Redmond discovers his errant lover, Louisa, who carries information that has the potential to cut years off the war—if she survives to act upon it.
Verdict The RITA Award–nominated Archer skillfully weaves adventure and romance into the first of a new steampunk series reminiscent of her “Blades of the Rose” books (Warrior; Scoundrel; Rebel; Stranger). Fans of “The Blades of the Rose” and of Meljean Brook’s The Iron Duke will devour the latest from this rising star in the romance industry.—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA