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Review: Skies of Steel by Zoe Archer

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Skies of Steel
Author: Zoe Archer 
Release Date: Nov. 6, 2012
Publisher: Avon Impulse
The Ether Chronicles #3
ISBN: #978-0062218155
Genre: Steampunk Romance
Format(s): Paperback (336 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher/ Edelweiss

About the book:
The prim professor
Daphne Carlisle may be a scholar, but she’s far more comfortable out in the field than lost in a stack of books. Still, when her parents are kidnapped by a notorious warlord, she knows she’ll need more than quick thinking if she is to reach them in time. Daphne’s only hope for getting across enemy territory is an airship powered and navigated by Mikhail Denisov, a rogue Man O’ War who is as seductive as he is untrustworthy.

The jaded mercenary
Mikhail will do anything for the right price, and he’s certain he has this mission—and Daphne—figured out: a simple job and a beautiful but sheltered Englishwoman. But as they traverse the skies above the Mediterranean and Arabia, Mikhail learns the fight ahead is anything but simple, and his lovely passenger is not entirely what she seems. The only thing Mikhail is certain of is their shared desire—both unexpected and dangerous.

What Im talking about:
Professor of Anthropology Daphne Carlisle finds herself in a desperate situation when her parents are kidnapped by a warlord on the Arabian Peninsula. The British government refuses to get involved, which leaves Daphne to seek out the help of rogue Man O’ War Airship Captain Mikhail Mikhailovish Denisov. Once a decorated Captain in the Russian navy, Mikhail is now a mercenary for hire. Daphne convinces a wary Mikhail to take her to her parents with ransom in tow.

Once underway, Daphne and Mikhail discover that each has secrets to hide, yet their attraction to one another is strong. Both fascinated with the other, but unwilling to share personal stories. They play a fragile game, revealing only the barest amount of information and only when forced into a situation which calls for the truth.

I adored the opening chapter of Skies of Steel. The whole exchange between Daphne and the Captain as she barters for passage to the Arabian Peninsula set the stage for their exciting journey! The entire scene was well written and successful at pulling me into the book! The descriptions of Mikhail … are sublime.

Hard angles comprised his face: a boldly square jaw, high cheekbones, a decidedly Slavic nose. The slightly almond shape of this eyes revealed distant Tartar blood, while his curved, full mouth was all voluptuary, framed by a trimmed, dark goatee. … He’d shaved most of his head to dark stubble, but down the center of his head he’d let his hair grow longer, and it stood up in a dramatic crest, the tip colored crimson.

Right from the start the reader understands that Mikhail isn’t the bad guy his reputation would leave one to believe; however, he clearly has a history he’s unwilling to share. He’s ashamed of his past, which includes a serious betrayal by a man he considered a brother. In spite of his history, he can’t help but place some trust in Daphne – a woman unlike any he’s met before. So when the reader is made aware of the fact that Daphne is lying to Mikhail, I had serious concerns that this book would end up falling into a familiar theme of “growing close, discovering betrayal, contrived separation until the end of the book, when the hero and heroine make up.” However, unlike the majority of books, Skies of Steel handles the betrayal different than the norm. I like that Daphne’s betrayal was discovered early on, and that we didn’t get near to the end when all of the truths come out. This gave the pair a lot of time to rebuild trust and a true relationship. And although the betrayal was multifaceted (and I was groaning for a few pages), Ms. Archer spins a fabulous path for our couple, and I was completely satisfied (although my heart broke for the couple a few times).

Daphne is a heroine I can get behind. Not only is she academically intelligent, she is “street” smart, strong and capable. She is loyal, but not afraid to go out on a limb. And she is extremely witty and sarcastic! It pains her to keep the truth from Mikhail, but she’s only doing what she believes necessary to save her family.

Overall I really enjoyed this story. It was exciting, action-filled and very entertaining. I love Mikhail… his description is awe-inspiringly hunky! I adore that he is flawed and he doesn’t make apologies. He went down the wrong path – he isn’t a “good guy.” But he does have a heart, and he tries to make good choices.

I love Daphne’s tenacity! She is a strong character and woman; one without apologies. She is driven and I love that she never apologizes for lying to Mikhail for doing what she believed she had to.

The story line was intense, having a bit of an “Indiana Jones” feel. The adventure was exciting. The final battle was a bit chaotic, and I would have liked a bit more with the warlord and his advisor. I would LOVE to read more about Mikhail and Daphne – they make a great pair, and I foresee wonderful adventures ahead. But I will be satisfied to read another one of Ms. Archer’s wonderful tales.

My Rating:
Enjoyed – strongly recommend (A-)
 

Purchase Info:

Skies of Steel (Book 3)
Reviews in the Series:
Skies of Fire (Book 1) 
Night of Fire (Book 2)  

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