Author: Seleste deLaney
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: 2/28/2011
Length: 104 pages
Acquired: from the publisher via NetGalley
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…
The idea of an America forever divided by Civil War was intriguing to me and along with the seriously cool cover art was what prompted me to request the galley for review. I assumed upon reading the summary that romance of some sort would enter into the story but even a few dozen pages into the book, it became evident to me that the romance was the prominent plot factor and the cool, post-Civil War storyline was mere background noise.
The idea of Ever charging into battle topless is not a wholly unreal development. I’ve read books which feature warriors, male and female, who were made all the more fierce and deadly by their willingness to leap to the battle clad in naught but their skin. The fact that Ever remained topless for over a third of the rather short story took it a little far though, I think. Still, once she was clothed, I enjoyed the book much more.
My biggest complaint is that the story felt much too rushed. It seemed to take place over just a few days and I felt that it could have taken longer. That it should have taken longer. There could have been much more explanation to the scenes than a few paragraphs and not only would doing this have made for a longer book, but a more fleshed out and enjoyable book. A bit less of the main characters staring at each other with longing and/or tortured expressions and a bit more background and descriptive text would have made me like the story a lot more.
That being said, I felt that deLaney did a fine job of fleshing out the characters in such a short time. I came to like and care about almost all of them more than I thought I could, considering the length of the story. I think I was especially impressed with the way she wrote Henri. I wanted to loathe this character but found myself rather liking her instead, in part due to the way she performed her medical duties so capably despite very obviously not liking Ever in the least… but even more so because of her care for her crew mates when she herself was betrayed and injured.
Ever had a hell of a temper and seemed to let it cause her to lose sight of her goal in the story, which was a bit surprising, as duty-oriented as she was. I was left wondering what it was that caused her to express so much rage than was warranted at certain moments in the story.
While I can’t find any information regarding a continuation of this story, I’d most likely be interested in reading one were it written. I’d like to see what happens next, now that all of the yearning and denial is over with! I’m mostly curious about what, if anything will happen in the Badlands in regards to their resources and the state of the Monarchy (also how women became the dominant sex in that society), who will be the president of Texas (*wink*) and whether the Civil War was actually our Civil War and this reality is what came of the Union losing.