Sunday, May 22, 2011

Have you Discovered Steampunk? - Lila B's Book Reviews

Another month and another book.  I was planning on reviewing the Steampunk romance Steam and Sorcery by Cindy Spencer Page, but because of moving to a new house and turmoil at my "real" job, I only got through chapter 1.  But since I promised a Steampunk tale this month, I am reviewing a Steampunk novella I read just last month.

First off, let's hit the basics:  What the heck is Steampunk?

I ran into this word while perusing publishers' and literary agency websites.  Lots of editors and agents are calling for Steampunk submissions these days, so I did a little Googling of the term and found a few Steampunk romances to read.

Steampunk is:  considered a subgenre of science fiction or fantasy fiction.  Stories are set in alternate timelines or worlds where steam power is used.  The settings are often very reminiscent of the Victorian era (1830s to 1900s) with lots of anachronistic technology or futuristic inventions as they might have been envisioned by people who lived during the Victorian era.  Think Industrial Revolution -- lots of smog, coal dust, and pollution.  Fashion is lots of goggles, corsets, leather, etc.  Steampunk frequently involves flying airships like dirigibles or steam powered flying ships.  Steampunk tends to be less dystopian than cyberpunk but often deals with social issues, especially class (money) differences.

This month's book is:

Badlands by Seleste deLaney

Publisher:  Carina Press (Harlequin's online imprint)

Format: Novella, ebook

Genre:  Steampunk

Amazon blurb:

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...

Lila's Opinion:

First off, have to say I LOVE the cover.  That's probably what drew me to this book while shopping online at Amazon.  I'm a Kindle user so I downloaded to my Kindles (Kindle, Kindle for Mac and Kindle for iPhone)....I like Kindle.

The heroine, Ever is kickass.  I love heroines who can take care of themselves and don't need a guy to rescue them.  Ever is a captain of the guard that is charged with protecting the borders of the Badlands, an Amazonian like society south of the United States and near the nation of Texas.  The alternate timeline here involves a post-Civil War America where the country has splintered into a number of smaller countries.  The Badlands are ruled by a queen and female warriors, like Ever, protect the citizens from the male criminals that the other nations keep dumping over their borders.  The Badlands is a barren place bereft of much of the Steampunk technology that the other nations utilize.  

Captain Spencer Pierce is an airship captain (this seems to be a very popular occupation for the heros and heroines in Steampunk -- like the pirates of their worlds).  His goal is to buy the ship he flies from the corrupt Congressman Mason.  Spencer is from the United States and while he makes trips to the Badlands on a regular basis to drop off cargos, he'd never really met the inhabitants of the Badlands.

The story starts in the middle of the action and rarely slows the pace.  Ever's queen is killed and Ever is badly injured in the attack.  She must travel to the United States to retrieve the princess and heir to the throne to keep her country from dissolving into chaos.  Spencer happens to be making a delivery to the area when the attack occurs and he and his crew rescue Ever.  The pair strikes a deal.  Spencer will receive payment, which will help him purchase his ship, if he helps Ever complete her quest to save the princess.

deLaney's characters are very well drawn with just enough backstory provided to justify who they are and their character flaws without boring the reader or slowing this short story down.  Ever has some funny quirks and at first she considers Spencer weak.  Because of the society she grew up in, she sees men as little more than a means to satisfy her physical needs.  The romance develops almost gently and is very sweet considering the genre.

My only gripe with this tale was that it wasn't longer and I would have loved to see more of deLaney's world.  I eagerly await any more stories if this is part of a series.

Lila's rating for Badlands by Selena deLaney: 

Lila B's Book Rating Legend:

1 Heart = Skip it
2 Hearts = Check it out
if you can find a free copy
and you've read the back
of all your cereal boxes.
3 Hearts = I wouldn't pay more
than $4.99 for this read.
4 Hearts = Oh, yeah, that's the stuff.

5 Hearts = OH, MY GOD, LOVE IT!
Red it in one sitting, without eating,
without sleeping and with minimal
potty breaks.


About Lila Barton:

At age six, when her older brother her read The Hobbit to her, Lila discovered the exciting worlds of fantasy fiction. As a teenager, she found delight in the happy endings of romance novels. Now, she combines fantasy and love stories in a line of paranormal romance novels. If tales of demons, vampires, werewolves and witches titillate your sense, Lila's tales are for you. Lila lives in the mountains of Montana with her very own stubborn, alpha male.

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