Saturday, September 15, 2012

Steampunk Minis: Meljean Brook, Clay & Susan Griffith

This last week I caught up with some steampunk romance novels and novellas. I went on a reading binge to catch up with Meljean Brook's Iron Seas steampunk series, and then hit the Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith steampunk trilogy Vampire Empire. Here are three minis for books by these authors.

Mina Wentworth and the Invisible City (Iron Seas, #1.5)

I liked this epilogue/novella about Rhys and Mina. I particularly enjoyed the fact that as they adjust to marriage and work through fears, they have taken the time to form their own little family with Anne the Tinker. Still, Scarsdale is the most memorable character in this short story with his unbearable situation. It is heartbreaking, and I'm hoping that Brook finds a great resolution for him. I also wonder if the storyline used as part of the mystery in this short about children working as laborers and automatons taking over factories will be fully realized in a future story. Grade: B-

Heart of Steel (Iron Seas #2) by Meljean Brook

Heart of Steel turned out to be a pirate adventure romance, steampunk style. I like that Yasmeen never loses the ruthlessness that makes her such a unique character, and that Archimedes Fox admires her for her hard-won heart of steel and cold as ice personality. His charm is deceptive in that it hides a relentless man with a tough and fearless core. A great pair whose romance is well developed, but is somewhat lacking in emotion. The adventure is less than I expected with a disappointing outcome, and although the couple and the romance kept me reading and the steampunk details are again excellent, this second installment does not quite live up to my high expectations of this series. Grade: B-

The Rift Walker (Vampire Empire #2) by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

I enjoyed the first book in this series, The Greyfriar, because of the adventure, romance, and wonderful portrayals of the nosferatu-like vampires as villains. The Rift Walker begins quite slowly as Princess Adele dreams of Greyfriar and prepares her wedding to senator Clark. Political games abound in Equatoria at this point just as Adele's teacher Mamoru and his cabal of geomancers make plans for her training. Meanwhile Cesare and the northern vampire clans make their own plans to strike at Equatoria. Action begins when Greyfriar abducts Adele during her wedding and they make a run for Africa just before Cesare's forces attack Alexandria.

I again enjoyed the vampires in this book and their ruthless performances. Adele begins the story as a romantic young girl dreaming of her days with Greyfriar and ends it closer to a woman ready to lead her people. She also seems to be either willingly blind or just totally unaware (clueless) when she should not be, so that her character becomes really frustrating after a while. Greyfriar plays the brooding hero willing to sacrifice for his lady, but he is less than I expected. As Adele grows and is willing to lead, Greyfriar's character seems diminished. We are told that he is strong and smart, but is he? Where is his strength and willingness to lead, to confront, to save his people? Why isn't he willing to do so? By the end of the book I found his situation to be heartbreaking, but also pathetic. I do like his sense of humor, those moments when he's reading the penny dreadful novels are wonderful, and his impossible love for Adele romantic.

Overall, the book has a slow beginning with action picking up in the middle that doesn't really lead anywhere but helps with Adele's personal growth and that goes on to the end, some two-dimensional characterization for secondary characters, i.e., senator Clark, and a good ending that prepares the reader for the conclusion of this trilogy. I already have the last installment and am hoping for a good ending.  Grade: C


  1. HILCIA!!! Were you sending me subliminal messages? Because I just started reading The Rift Walker last night! Great minds and all that. Anyway, I'm a little disappointed to see the C grade, but I'm still optimistic that I'll enjoy it. I tend to be less critical than my beloved book buddies so there is that. lol! And maybe now that I read your review I'll be a little more prepared for the pace.

    And yeah... let's not bring up my fangirl neglect of Ms. Brook again.. *head desk*

    1. Christine, we were on the same rift or wave length. LOL!

      Definitely keep your eye on the pacing, but also keep that optimism high! You'll probably enjoy The Rift Walker much more than I did, as I'm sure others have. And yeah... Brook! I'm all caught up now with Brook's Iron Seas and looking forward to more. ;P

  2. Well, I liked both Heart of Steel and The Rift Walker a bit more than you but I do agree with the slow start of the Rift Walker. I'm looking forward to the last book and hope it works better for you than this one. :)

    1. Leslie, as you can see I enjoyed Heart of Steel more than The Rift Walker. Heart of Steel didn't deter me from reading the next installment in the Iron Seas series, thankfully, and for me a B- still means a "very good" read. I loved Riveted.

      However, I'm ambivalent about The Kingmakers: Vampire Empire, but I am going to read it and am still hoping for a good ending and more from Gareth? We'll see. :D

  3. So the third book is going to be the last of the Vampire Empire series? I've heard so much about it, I'm going to try to read it soon. If it's truly a complete trilogy, the better for me LOL.

    Mina Wenworth and the Invisible City... I liked the family stuff, but didn't care for the mystery. As you said, Scarsdale is indeed the most memorable character. I wonder if Ms Brook will feature him as a hero eventually...

    Heart of Steel I have in my TBR pile, but I don't know, I'm just not feeling it.

    1. Nath, it is my understanding that Vampire Empire is a trilogy and I checked it out at the authors' website. They comfirmed that. However, who knows? You know how that goes... lol!

      As far as Scarsdale goes, I got the heads up from someone at Goodreads that Brook plans to write a story for Scarsdale, so it seems as if you and I will get our wish on that front!

      Heart of Steel also sat in my TBR for a year... big difference from both The Iron Duke and Riveted. I read those two books in a flash! But, it enjoyable enough for me. I always enjoy Brook's books, being a fan and all. *g*


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