I devoured this book on the beach. Which may seem a bit odd considering that the story takes place in the gloomy, often wet, underbelly of Victorian London, but go with me on this one. I loved Ingrid and Byrnes as a leading couple. You get the cool, collected blue-blood (not a vampire), who is desperate to get “revenge” on the hot-blooded, strong willed, and flirtatious verwulfen (think werewolf but without the actual shift) because she’s the only one to truly best him. Then throw in a really well-crafted paranormal murder mystery plot on top of that. I thought the romance itself was steamy when needed, and sweet and tender as the couple grew, making it both a slow burn romance, and just the right level of animalistic passion at the same time. Personally, I like my romance books with a heavy dose of plot that isn’t centered on the couple hooking up, and “Mission: Improper” delivered on all fronts!
I admit I don’t read many retellings of classic fairy-tales. They just don’t tend to interest me that much. But when I saw this steampunk retelling of Cinderella, I was all over that! I love me some steampunk feminism! And let’s be clear, this book is nothing like Cinder, and I do think this book suffered some from coming out close to the same time as that super popular series. These two retellings have nothing in common except their source material. Our MC in this book, Nicolette, is an inventor, she makes amazing things in the workshop her mother left behind. It’s her one source of solace in a home where her step family have diminished her to a life of servitude, bereft of love. I love the idea that Nicolette isn’t looking for anyone to rescue her. She makes plans to get out and live a life of her choosing free of her step family and follows through on it. It has a very strong message for young women on not needing a man to complete you, and the power of female friendships. The book has a delicious bitter sweetness to it for the most part that I liked, but overall the book felt incomplete with too many loose ends that were so interesting! And when those plot points didn’t actually get explored, it made the rest of the book feel boring and other subplots feel tacked on with little regard to the story as a whole.
I had heard a bunch of good things about “Out of the Shadows” by fellow authors, so when the books popped up as a bundle sale I immediately bought all three in one go… and then let them sit on my kindle forever because I suck. But I did it! I finally read the first book! “Out of the Shadows” follows Lenore as she tries to hide from the sins of her parents, rejected by society and forced to steal for a living in a world where such crimes could land you in prison and tortured for the rest of your days. The land Lenore lives in is post-apocalyptic, but not set in a broken city like most other books. Instead, the people remember the great war that led to the end of magic and wondrous contraptions, and gave rise to the brutal peacekeepers known as the Enforcers. Lenore is barely surviving, when a chance encounter that could be ruinous turns into a blessing and opens a world of opportunity, as long as no one ever finds out who Lenore really is.
All too often it seems as if steampunk authors stick to one location and one setting: a Victorian era European city. Think cobblestones and cold fog with women in full hoop skirts and men in three piece suits. It was refreshing to read a steampunk novel that took place—in both time and location—so far from the tried and true that I tip my proverbial hat to the author! “Bodacious Creed” is very much a western set in the early days of America, just after the Civil War, where California’s city of Santa Cruz could be considered very much a wild west. The feel of a railroad town that survives mainly from ranching, factories, the dying gold rush, and brothels is superbly well crafted and makes for a believable setting for this steampunk novel. But I don’t know if I’d really consider this a zombie book.
“The Outlaws of Kratzenfels” is a fun, fast paced action-adventure young-adult novel where fantasy meets science in a delightful steampunk manner. We watch as Princess Helda has her kingdom stolen from her, and witness the lengths she goes to get it back, the dark secrets of her parent’s death, the creation of the new Iron Knights, and we meet the raggedy crew she finds along the way. There are so many fun little tidbits going on in Jones’s book—and he writes wonderfully, with fun dialogue and situational humor—that I was yearning for more! Unfortunately, at parts, the lack of “more” actually hurt this entertaining book. Allow me explain.
Click the book images to see them on Amazon!