Author: Zoe Archer
Series: The Blades of the Rose (book #1)
Next in series: Scoundrel
My rating: 4 Stars
Synopsis: After witnessing a vicious attack, Captain Gabriel Huntley sets out on a quest to fulfill a dying man’s final request. Gabriel soon finds himself drawn into a world of secret societies, danger, magic and intrigue as well as to Thalia Burgess, a woman on a mission of her own to recover a priceless artifact that, in the wrong hands, can be used as a most destructive weapon.
Review: This is my first book in the Steampunk genre and although the beginning is a little slow, it picks up pace 1/3 of the way in and after that it is action packed.
While not exactly original (it reminds me of the Indiana Jones movies), the story is intriguing and well-written (some of the sections about the various gadgets could have been condensed) with enough twists and turns to keep you interested.
The historical and geographical settings are one of the highlights of the book. The descriptions of Mongolian life and culture are well researched, vivid and inspiring. Some readers may be put off by the paternalistic and colonial attitudes toward the local people but when taken in context, this is understandable considering the time period.
In addition, I am a sucker for secret societies and this book as two – the Blades of the Rose, who wish to locate powerful sources of energy to keep them out of the hands of the second society, the malicious Heirs of Albion, who want to use the artifacts to gain control of the world.
Thalia and Gabriel are a great couple with an intense chemistry. Each has just the right amount of strength and vulnerability. Gabriel is courageous and honorable, and his awkwardness makes him completely endearing, and Thalia is an intelligent, independent and feisty heroine. The buildup of their attraction and the growing tension between them are particularly captivating.
In terms of the secondary characters, most are well developed and contribute both to the overall storyline and to the world Archer is building. However, some are presented superficially perhaps because they will appear in later installments of the series and the author merely seeks to whet the reader’s appetite.
In sum, this is an entertaining mix of action, adventure and romance. I will definitely be continuing with the series.