Author submission in exchange for an honest review.
February 28, 2011
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...
Badlands is an alternate reality tale set in a different kind of post-Civil War America where the country is divided into unfriendly neighbors. The heroine, Ever, guards her land's borders. She is a warrior, with the tattoos and scars to prove it. An invasion of her territory results in the murder of the Queen, and Ever is tasked with retrieving and protecting Princess Laurette, the heir to the throne, who is in Philadelphia, living life as a normal student.
Reluctantly leaving behind her embattled troops, Ever ends up a passenger on the Dark Hawk, a dirigible captained by Spencer Pierce, a man who just wants to make one last delivery, a commitment that will pay debts owed and transfer ownership of the vessel to him.
Naturally, Ever's arrival throws a wrench in that plan. It's clear that Spencer and Ever are attracted to one another. But Ever's pride and obsession with her mission makes that a connection feel more like a burden to her.
But eventually, the sparks fly between the pair, and high adventure and peril ensue. And Spencer's unexplainable trust in Ever is put to the test when secrets start to surface.
Badlands is an impressive hybrid of Steampunk/Science Fiction/Fantasy, and of course, Romance.
And most of those genres are not my usual reading fare. So upon diving into the story, I was surprised by how easily I became engaged by the plot. The blend is just right. Not too much of any one influence happening. One doesn't overpower the others. Definitely a gentle yet solid introduction to the sub-genres.
Ever is strong and courageous, but also bull-headed, with a tendency to get a little feral in the right circumstances. Spencer is an agreeable hero. He's a subtle man, without much of that Alpha Man stereotype, a fact that kind of annoys Ever. At first. The supporting characters that populate the Dark Hawk are likeable. Not just background noise.
Being new to the steampunk/clockwork scene, I was grateful to the author for painting the scenery well with clear descriptions. I was able to visualize the world she created without wondering if my own brain was veering off in the wrong direction. I found Badlands very entertaining, with love interests that were easy to root for.