Genres: Steampunk Romance
Published by Tantor Audio
Released on September 17, 2012
After just wrapping up Yasmeen and Archimedes story in Heart of Steel and Tethered, I was ready to press on and see what more the Iron Seas steampunk series had for me. This time we were off to Iceland land of volcanoes, secrets, and legends of trolls and witches? Had to see what that was about.
Riveted is book three in the series, but it is a standalone adventure and could be enjoyed separately. I wouldn’t recommend it, though, because the overall world of this series is understood by this point so the author pretty much skims on those details to focus on this new aspect of her Iron Seas world.
The story opens with airship boiler engineer, Annika, rescued from a tough situation by volcanologist and explorer, David Kenteweiss. David and his team are taking passage on her ship for Iceland where they are studying volcanic activity. David also has a personal reason. He is searching for his deceased mother’s people. Annika is keeping a profound secret that her thoughtlessness cost her deeply for when her sister took the blame and was exiled. Annika is a member of a remote village of women who got away from unbearable past lives now living in Iceland and perpetuating myths to keep the curious away and now David’s search and the work of another group threaten to expose the location of her home.
Naturally, this would not be an Iron Seas adventure without colorful new characters, clever steampunk gadgetry, and complex plots that provide some grand excitement and twists. It was definitely all that especially with the first encounter with people of different backgrounds from the previous characters and the new setting.
The thing is, I should have loved this one and I did to a certain extent, but I also felt it dragged in a couple of places. I felt like I was waiting for something to happen for the longest time. The author used this little game between Annika and David to introduce all the ship’s crew and David’s crew while showing their budding friendship and interest. I tried to be patient with this thinking this would be significant later. Well, erm, it wasn’t really.
Now, what I didn’t have a lot of patience for was the author using Annika to really browbeat a point which, again, stalled out the story for me. People should be able to love who they love without it being a crime or a social ostracism. I didn’t mind the point being made, it was the going on and on about it. Yep, got it the first time. Now, can we get the story, please.
Annika was an interesting heroine. She’s not afraid to say or think what most people keep to themselves which makes her socially awkward. She sees herself as this little, scared rabbit and her sister as this fierce warrioress, but the hero makes it clear right away that she’s got it wrong. She does what she has to do when the chips are down and she’s open about her sexuality which is interesting because she’s still a virgin. She thinks she’s really this homebody who isn’t made for adventures and can’t seem to understand she’s been on one long adventure since she left home years ago to make her way out in the world while finding her exiled sister.
David was not any less interesting since he’s also somewhat awkward. His is due to all the physical augmentation he had done to his body after surviving an explosion that killed his mother who threw herself over him to save him. People are either revolted to look at him or be near him or pity him and in both cases, he is seen as less than a man. Annika’s sexual attraction and frank admiration do so much for him. He helps her realize she has strength and courage so they really bring out the best in each other. He also makes her understand that he admires her and will help her protect her vulnerable secrets if she will just trust him. Oh, and once they get past their issues, whew boy, were they hot stuff.
There is an external conflict that is something of a mystery at first and then is gradually revealed when the villain’s full plans come out. I actually liked this side of the plot up until then. It lost a lot of its menace when I got the who and the why though was still dangerous for the heroes. There was a few interesting surprises there and a sociopathic villain makes for a great antagonist.
I picked this one up on audio and have enjoyed Alison Larkin’s work before. She did a great job with this story. She gives a whimsy and an engaging quality to the story above and beyond the author’s writing that only one or two other narrators have done. I was captivated by her accents and ability to do both genders and several voices. She reads more than acts, but does it in a way that I still got the full impact of the audio experience of the book.
All in all, I was glad to get this latest Iron Seas adventure and love that the author takes this series all over the world with its airships, steam-powered contraptions, inventions, and alternate histories. Definitely one of the best steampunk romance series I’ve read and I’m pressing on for more.
Romance Roundabout #189 SP