Kalindi MacNeil survived the devastating enemy airship attack that obliterated Liverpool, but even her engineering skills can't seem to repair her broken heart. Seeking to put her life back together, Kali retreats to a desolate, deserted island--only to discover she's not alone. Captain Fletcher Adams, an elite man/machine hybrid, a Man O' War, crashed his battle-damaged airship into the island after the destruction of Liverpool, never expecting to survive the wreck. But survive he did.
One Desire . . .
Believing he is nothing but a living weapon, Fletcher is wary of his newfound companion--a pretty, damaged, but determined young woman. Together they are stranded on the island, and it is only a matter of time until desire gets the best of them both. Soon Kali and Fletcher each find that they may be just what the other needed. But a danger from beyond the island puts them to the test. Will it rip them apart or bond their hearts forever? ~ Goodreads | Amazon
Source: Copy provided by the author for my honest review
I haven’t read any of the previous books in the Ether Chronicles, but despite this being book #5, I was able to jump right in and not feel like I missed much. Skies of Gold is very much focused on the heroine/hero and the scars of war that help them forge an unbreakable bond. There are universal truths about the horror of war and that came through loud and clear without a lot of background details.
Kali, an engineer, isolates herself on a deserted island after surviving a particular horrific attack, by the enemy in Liverpool, that took away her job, friends and piece of Kali herself. She finds solace in fixing and inventing things while she tries to heal her mind and soul. She finds she is not as alone as she first thought when she runs into Fletcher, a brooding Captain, trying to stay off the grid, on the island after his airship crashes.
This will sound kind of corny but the relationship between Kali and Fletcher was just lovely. It was a very slow building romance born from mutual respect and friendship. There was an instant and obvious attraction but neither was willing to throw it away just for sex. I was never frustrated by this, instead I enjoyed their journey.
Kali and Fletcher bear so many scars from the war, both physical and emotional. It wasn’t easy for them to truly expose themselves to each other in heart, mind and body. I loved how the whole thing was handled. The slower pace was perfect.
For most of the story there isn’t a whole lot of action (until maybe the last third - hard to tell on my e-reader) but you won’t miss a thing and in fact it gave Archer the time to put the puzzle pieces in place so that when the action does kick into high gear, you’re not left scratching your head.
Skies of Gold is from the alt-history/steampunk genre with a lot of cool bells and whistles, especially with Kali being quite the talented inventor and engineer. I don’t read too much steampunk so it’s hard for me to gauge how it holds up to similar books but I enjoyed that element quite a bit.
Final thoughts: Kali and Fletcher were an incredible couple with a slow building, realistic romance. It was great that they didn’t forget their own hopes, needs and desires once they fell in love. I got so lost in the romance and then the action towards the end that I read fast enough to think that this was a novella until I looked at the page count on Goodreads.
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