A century after a devastating volcanic eruption forced Iceland’s inhabitants to abandon its shores, the island has become enshrouded in legend. Fishermen tell tales of giant trolls guarding the land and of seductive witches who steal men’s hearts. But the truth behind the legends is mechanical, not magic—and the mystery of the island a matter of life and death for a community of women who once spilled noble blood to secure their freedom.
Five years ago, Annika unwittingly endangered that secret, but her sister Källa took the blame and was exiled. Now Annika serves on the airshipPhatéon, flying from port to port in search of her sister and longing to return home . . . but that home is threatened when expedition leader David Kentewess comes aboard.
Determined to solve the mystery of his own origin, David will stop at nothing to expose Annika’s secrets. But when disaster strikes, leaving David and Annika stranded on a glacier and pursued by a madman, their very survival depends on keeping the heat rising between them—and generating lots of steam . . .
*Blurb from Goodreads*
Thoughts on Hero
MinnChica: I wasn’t too sure what to think of David at first. It was obvious that the nano agents and his mechanical enhancements were a source of contention for him, that he was constantly viewed negatively by others because of it. Although that would have hardened many men, David seemed to take it in stride. He was still this caring young boy underneath all that gruff exterior. While cautious with his feelings, his thoughts, and his desires, he was still a genuine caring little boy that wanted nothing more than to be loved and give love in return. I adored David once we got to know him better, and hope we get to see more romance heroes like him in the future.
E: I had mixed feeling about David for a while. I liked him initially when he saved Annika from being arrested and through most of their initial encounters. I could tell that he was sensitive about his nano agents and his enhancements. While they gave him back a lot of what he had lost in the eruption he had to deal with a larger number of negative reactions to his appearance. Those included rather harsh rejections as a man from women who should have been able to at least act. Then David fell off his pedestal when he tried to blackmail Annika into giving him information. I could understand his frustration and pain but I hoped that he would have to work to get back into Annika’s, and my, good graces. Well he certainly succeeded and I ended up liking him even more than I had in the beginning. He was strong, smart, not Alpha and just wonderful.
Has: Oh I loved David- he was a fabulous beta hero, honourable and sweet but with a strong inner core! And I immediately warmed up to his character because I totally understood why he would regard people like that due to his enhancements and scars. I really loved how Meljean portrayed themes of disability and how that related to his character especially with how people’s attitudes towards him before he got enhanced and then later when he became the super hottie cyborg. It felt so realistic and not heavy handed, and so very well done. But then this is one of the reasons I love about her world-building and characterisation. But I loved that it didn’t make him bitter or angry but I could relate to him being reclusive and guarded about his feelings. I also loved how vulnerable that made him even though he would rarely show that aspect to others. Especially in his interactions with Annika, even though it got off to a rocky start, I could understand his frustration and desire to fulfil his mother’s wishes, although he made it clear he wouldn’t have betrayed Annika’s trust and that of her family and home town.
Thoughts on Heroine
MinnChica: Annika wasn’t as much of a mystery to me, and while I liked her immensely, she didn’t stand out as much as David did. I understood her dedication to keep her family secret safe, and thought she did the best she could at keeping the secret. I have to admit that I never really saw her character as being a scared little bunny until the second half of the book, when she reunited with someone from her past. At that point, her character seemed to deflate a little for me, and I was sad to see her bold and fearsome character whither a bit under the strain. Like David, I saw Annika almost as a little girl as well. She left home with a goal in mind, and it seemed like she really hadn’t gotten the chance to grow up the rest of the way. But with David at her side, the two of them really blossomed together, and I loved reading that.
E: Annika seemed to be quite the individual. She certainly didn’t fit in with women from other places but at the same time she managed to get along with most of them. Due to her peculiar upbringing she was free from most of the common prejudices but had some less common ones of her own. She was intensely private with good reason given some of the horrible things she had seen while searching for her sister. I liked how she never gave up regardless of the odds against and managed to come up with ways to make a difference. It was striking to see how much her character had matured while being on her own when she encountered people she knew from her home. I have to say I much preferred the strong Annika. Watching the relationship grow between the two with their ups and downs was a lot of fun.
Has: For me Annika’s character was much like peeling an onion and as the book progressed each layer slowly unfolded showing a different side to her. Her character may not be as dramatic,but like her dress sense which is colourful, she she definitely stood out to me. I think David needed an introspective heroine, because she like him, she was an outsider and I definitely agree that once she was with him, she really found her sense of self. Especially towards the end of the book, where she wasn’t being held back by her past guilt on the reason why she’s looking for her lost sister Kalla and family obligations. But I liked that she was refreshingly honest, and sweet but I don’t think she had the chance to show this side of self because she wasn’t given an opportunity until meeting David and encountering the mystery with Lorenzo and the experiments. And although she wasn’t as kick-ass as the previous heroines, I loved her steadfastness and determination and I think David needed that because he never had someone who could relate to him or be as loyal, and she’s going to be his touch stone and vice versa..
MinnChica: There were really so many of them, I just don’t know how I can narrow it down to one. There were so many great pivotal moments to their romance, and many of those stick out to me: hiding in the saferoom of the airship, their private moment in the bathhouse, their first time together. But I think the one moment that sticks out most is the first time they got hot and heavy, while traveling in the troll. I loved that they both wanted to take things slow, that they knew going into their evening that they WOULDN’T be having sex, and yet they desperately wanted to experience everything they could together. They were like fumbling teenagers doing what felt good, and it was such a turning point for them to admit they were on their way to love, and wanted to experience all the sexual buildup that comes with it.
E: Oh those are good scenes that MinnChica mentioned. I think I am going to say one close to the beginning of the story when David and Dooley (his scientific expedition partner) had a conversation about how David had never spoken to a women for longer than three minutes. The humor and teasing there highlighted who David really was to me while also mentioning a rather important truth. That just meant his conversations and other encounters with Annika that much more precious.
Has: I totally agree with you all about those scenes, especially with the touches of humour, and the growing sexual tension which was fun and very sexy! But for me the scene that called out to me and I don’t want to spoil the book, is at the end of the book, when they were both trying to survive the repercussions from big event. Oh, for two quieter toned characters, this scene was jam packed full of intensity and I really could feel the sense of despair and desperation and just how much they loved each other. This scene really summed up their romance for me because it showed how much they developed from their initial meeting to this point and it was so sweet and poignant.
Dislike about book
MinnChica: Other than Lorenzo and his total disregard for humanity, there really wasn’t much that I didn’t like about this book in particular. One of the things I love most about this series also has a tendency to frustrate me: you never know what you are going to get. With Brook and this series it could go one way or another. I’m a very mood-based reader in that I’ll pick up what I’m in the mood for, and with this series, I never know if I’m in the right mood or not. It’s very annoying for me, and I find that many times it’ll take me multiple sittings to get through the book, which almost never happens with me. However, that being said, I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed after finishing one of the Iron Seas novels or novellas.
E: I was slightly disappointed in what happened to Lorenzo. I know that the fact his carefully built and orchestrated world falling to pieces not to mention the destruction of his plans caused him a large amount of distress but I wanted more. So I might be slightly bloodthirsty but I wanted to see him suffer physically like so many of the people whose paths he crossed. Granted I don’t think he is any position to come back and cause anyone any harm *grin* but I wanted confirmation.
Has: I don’t really have any real dislikes in the book, although I agree about Lorenzo’s fate! But I did find it interesting that his character was contrasted with David and Annika who both observed things and people too, because they were outsiders. But unlike Lorenzo, who was basically a sociapath, they had empathy and was able to relate to people despite being different or eccentric.
Misc. thoughts & grade
MinnChica: All in all I really enjoyed this book. The world of the Iron Seas is so robust, there is so much going on, and there are so many different places Brook can take us to. I love the small world feel we got being in Iceland for the majority of the book, and how a lot of the underlying themes of community stood out to me. It felt like a steampunk small town romance, and I loved it start to finish. I hope we get to see more of the Hannasvik people and these characters in future books. The romance was great, the action was fun, and the steampunk aspects were engenius. Brook has another hit read on her hands!
I give Riveted an A-
E: Once again I was completely entranced by Brook’s world. I stayed up way too late finishing this and loved every second of it. Between the depth of the world building, the complexity of the characters, and what is at stake for them it never lost my attention. This could actually serve as a standalone because none of the characters from previous stories are mentioned although it is obvious it is the same world, just focused in a different part. Yes it does take a little while for the action to start but the slow ramping up allowed me to get to know the characters and get a feel for them before I was focused on their life and death prospects making their relationship that much more believable. It wasn’t a sudden urge to celebrate not dying in the most primitive of ways but a thoughtful logical next stop to their already established friendship and attraction. I also really admire how Brook manages to integrate steam so thoroughly instead of an afterthought tossed in to satisfy a genre classification. Like MinnChica said above the romance, action and steampunk were all marvelous. I can’t wait for the next one.
I give Riveted an A
Has: I was totally immersed in this book, although unlike the previous books which was more action led, I liked the quieter toned, and touches of humour, but the real stand out element was the romance – this was a beautifully drawn out love story about two misfits falling in love, and I loved the backdrop of Iceland with huge mechanical trolls, and leviathan like whales. I can’t say enough good things about the detail and depth of the strength of the world-building that Meljean Brook has laid out. It is like a real feast of the imagination, and I love how she tackles themes of race, sexuality and disability and the impact this has in a world where differences are frowned upon due to fear and ignorance. Riveted adds another element in the ever expanding tapestry of the Iron Seas world, the rich characterisation, the sweet and passionate and vibrant steampunk setting, I was truly captivated from the first page.
I also give Riveted an A