One of the things I like most about Meljean Brook’s steampunk romance series, Iron Seas, is that you never know exactly what you’re going to get when you open the cover and start the first page. This series doesn’t follow a pattern like most series do, you may or may not have met the hero or heroine already. The setting could be completely different from the last book. Each character, each love story, each conflict is very diverse from book to book. It makes looking forward to the next in the series even more exciting.
Annika has left her home to find her sister and right a wrong. She feels responsible for Kalla having to leave their hidden homestead and has taken a job as an engineer on the airship Phateon so that she can travel the world looking for her. She puts ads in newspapers at every port in the hopes that someday she will get a reply and they can both finally go home to their small Icelandic village. David is leading an expedition to study volcanoes, he is also trying to fulfill a last wish for his mother. To fulfill that last wish he must discover his mother’s origins and find her mysterious home. When he meets Annika there are things about her that remind him of his mother, mainly the way she dresses and the way she speaks. Lucky for him he will be traveling on the same airship as her on his way to his next expedition.
When Annika and David meet they are both used to being different and somewhat apart from everybody else. Annika is from a village of all women and is used to hiding where she comes from because she has learned that the rest of the world considers the way these women live to be unnatural. David was injured as a youth in a horrible accident and one hand, an eye and both legs are prosthetics. He is also infected with nanoagents which is shunned in some areas of the world because of the association with the Horde. David is used to being looked at with pity but he is determined to do as his father instructed him as a child and look for the hope in things and not dwell on the bad.
The build up of Annika and David’s relationship was slow and sweet. David has two past experiences with women that did not end well and he is unsure of how Annika will respond to him. Annika is comfortable with sex, but has grown up in a place where women loving women was natural and accepted. She doesn’t know what she wants in a lover, or even if it will be a man or woman, she just knows she wants a real love story. When she starts to fall for David she is torn because she knows he wants to find his mother’s birthplace, but she also doesn’t know if she can trust him with the truth of its whereabouts and why it stays hidden. As the story builds they start to learn to trust each other, both with their bodies and with their insecurities. Annika, because of her background, is very accepting and doesn’t see David the way everyone else sees him. She never pities him but rather sees his prosthetics as strengths instead of weaknesses. When they finally come together their love scenes are very sexy and meaningful.
This being steampunk, of course there are fantastical creatures and cool settings, but it’s the characters and their motivations and interactions that take center stage. By end of the book I was very much emotionally invested in these characters both as individuals and as a couple coming together. This is the third book in the Iron Seas series, following The Iron Duke and Heart of Steel. I honestly can’t say which is my favorite. I’ve enjoyed each one in a unique way. They are so different you can read them all as stand alone novels and not realize they are part of a series. I very much enjoyed Riveted and look forward to whatever comes next.
“I don’t know. You asked me about others once. I had to pay both of them. They didn’t enjoy it, I didn’t enjoy it… but each time was nothing like it has been with you.” He was quiet for a long moment. “I wish that I’d waited to fall in love, too.”
Her throat ached. “You can wait for it now.”
She felt his laugh against her hair, the shake of his head. This time, the kiss he pressed to her neck wasn’t openmouthed and hot, but soft and sweet.
“I’ll just wait for you,” he said.