Genre: Steampunk Romance
Overall **** 4 out of 5 Stars. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
An arranged marriage between Prince Cole and Princess Samantha provides the alliance needed to defeat the Fate Army.
Prince Cole is your basic playboy-not-interested-in-being-King. Princess Samantha is anything but basic. When Cole’s brother is killed, Cole is forced to step into his place as next-in-line to the throne, but he doesn’t exactly go willingly. Sam wants to escape palace life, but before she can, her parents send her to a “finishing” school and wipe out her uniqueness and free will.
After being forced to wed and then consummate the marriage in front of a room full of strangers, Cole and Samantha get off to a bit of a rocky start. He wants to get to know her, but all she wants to do is please him, and the two wants don’t exactly compute. Eventually, Cole is able to coax out pieces of the true Samantha: she’s a fast reader who retains everything she’s read, she loves horses, dessert is her favorite part of a meal. But Samantha is constantly at war with herself, having been “taught” in the finishing school what a true lady is and Cole’s behavior won’t let her follow her what she’s “learned.”
When it is finally revealed that Samantha’s mother repressed her daughter’s genius in order to hide her paternity, Sam finally accepts herself for who she is and allows her true self to come to the surface. Cole gifts her a tinker shop and she shows aptitude for battle. When the Fate army begins closing in, she proves herself capable of of much more than building trinkets by leading the Alliance army to victory against the Fate.
This was my first foray into the steampunk genre and I quite liked it! Because the world is based on something I was already familiar with, Victorian England (with some medieval elements), the world-building didn’t throw me. It intrigued me. Havens does an excellent job of dropping in phrases and technologies unique to her world while giving the reader the context clues needed to figure out what those references mean.
The heat between Cole and Samantha was ABSOLUTELY FANFREAKINGTASTIC. Havens teases the characters and the readers and when things finally happen, it is well-worth the wait. It’s sweet, it’s sensual, it’s loving. And then, to top it off, the reader can tell the characters genuinely like and care for each other, beyond lust and love.
Character Development: **** 4.5 out of 5 stars. Samantha is one of the most complex characters I’ve ever read. Her constant internal battle is not only well-written and believable, it is also so unique. She merges the two stereotypical female characters we’ve come to expect in Princess stories: the weak, damsel-in-distress, needing her Prince to be her Savior, with the strong, bad-assed, take-no-crap-from-anyone warrior, and she does it in a way that is not stereotypical at all. I don’t think I’m explaining this correctly, but read it, and I think you’ll get what I’m saying. I loved Samantha, because to tell the truth, I’m a little sick of female characters who are strong only because it is un-PC to write a female character who isn’t strong. Samantha is weak AND strong. Insecure AND confidant. Subversive AND dominant. But she’s not all obnoxious about it.
The other characters were also really well-written. Cole started out a little cliche, but he grew on me, especially in his good intentions towards Samantha. Zeb was amazingly well-done, and he was only featured in a few scenes, so I imagine he’ll have a larger role in the next installment. Then there’s Jasper. Oh Jasper. For a character who appeared only once and who didn’t technically say anything, he was incredibly interesting. There’s mystery surrounding him – we don’t know if he’s good or evil, we don’t know why he joined the Fate army, we don’t know if he’s somehow controlling Samantha in her dark periods. So many questions, but good ones! I didn’t feel unsatisfied not knowing the answers to them, it just made me ready to read the next book.
Plot: **** 4 out of 5 stars. A lot happens in this book. We meet Cole and Samantha, they begin their married life, and Cole begins Samantha’s “re-education.” Then there is the discovery of Samantha’s true self. They fall in love. Samantha finally enables herself to trust Cole and become intimate with him. The Fate army draws near. Samantha proves she’s more than just a pretty face by leading their army. The progression of the plot is steady, the tension between Cole and Samantha perfect. There were a few scenes of conflict between Sam and Cole that felt a little forced/contrived to me, which caused me to remove one star, but for the most part, it was beautifully plotted.
Writing Style/ Voice of the Author: **** 4 out of 5 stars. Havens keeps it simple, which I really like. The story was easy to read, the dialogue flowed well and felt natural. The book is a breeze. There were a few awkward scene jumps, but for the most part, I liked the pacing. The author’s voice never intruded. I said it in my review of Gone Girl, and I’ll say it again: nothing ruins the flow of a book like the author’s voice intruding. Havens showed her story beautifully .
“Although he had managed to cooperate as little as possible over the years with his father, King Arnold, his duties as Prince could no longer be ignored. Duty. He just couldn’t understand how societies so technologically advanced, and continuing to advance, could hold on to such archaic and simply barbaric traditions.”
“Sam found it wasn’t just warmth that soaked into her body from his touch, strength seeped in, too.”
Purchase Fate War: Alliance
Who is E.M. Havens? I’m a lot of things. The word that seems to define me most at the moment is mom. It can be all consuming. Not only am I a mom of three (one of them is a teenager…pity me), but I also home-school (pity me more). I share this awesome responsibility with the love of my life, best friend, and soul-mate husband.
Add to that, the twenty-five chickens, twelve turkeys, ten guineas, nine pigs, three barn cats, two Great Pyrenees guardian dogs, a Chihuahua, a house cat, and a goose, it makes for one crazy, full, and certainly entertaining life.
Somewhere in there I find the time to write. I started out young writing poems, then moved on to songs. I actually have a Bachelor in Music with a secondary in Science because I can’t stand English. Yes, the writer hates English. I like to read the story for the experience of reading the story, not to nitpick each letter and comma. But I digress.
I eventually found blogging and really enjoyed sharing my life that way. When an unfortunate turn of events separated me from my music equipment, I decided to use my overactive imagination, my love of reading, and my new found hobby, prose writing, to release some of my creative energy. I wrote my first novel and loved the experience. Fate War: Alliance is actually the second novel I wrote and the first to be published. Now I’m working on my third and several sequels to Fate War!
So that’s pretty much me, sitting in the Arbuckle Mountains of Oklahoma, reading, writing, collecting eggs from the coop, and being a schoolmarm. It’s a pretty great life.