**A SFR Month post**
Two Lonely Hearts…
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 this deserted island after Liverpool, never expecting to survive the wreck. But survive he did.
Believing he is nothing but a living weapon, Fletcher is wary of his new-found companion—a pretty, damaged, but determined young woman. Together they are stranded on the deserted island, and it is only a matter of time until desire gets the best of both of them. Soon Kali and Fletcher find 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?
This blurb came from the author’s website.
From the very first time I heard about this series I was intrigued. Two authors, Zoe Archer and Nico Rosso, known for their Science Fiction Romance (SFR) or alternate history romance writing in the same world with at mix of science, technology and human elements all blended together sounded right up my reading alley. I have had great experiences with Zoe Archer’s writing in the past and I knew that she would give me something unexpected with a great twist. So I read the first one, Skies of Fire and found myself more than intrigued, I was hooked. Archer and Rosso built an intricate world during a war that touched the entire globe in one way or another. This allowed me to feel that the series really spanned great distances and involved the ordinary as well as the extraordinary. Skies of Gold started off with two characters who were very different from the previous stars of this series. Kali and Fletcher appeared to be suffering from a combination of PTSD and a crisis of self-identity.
Kali was a brilliant engineer who couldn’t resist inventing and tweaking to make things better. She left her family to find success, employment, and validation of her engineering skills. She had a comfortable live in Liverpool when war arrived in the form of an intense airborne bombardment. After physically recovering Kali could not bear to stay in the ruins of Liverpool, full of crushed dreams and lives, nor could she face returning home, a broken failure, so she decided to live on a deserted island once inhabited by her ancestors. There she decided to live alone and slowly come to peace with recent events and life changes. Kali was remarkably self-sufficient even when she realized that she overlooked a few realities of life in an ancient falling down cottage. One of the things I loved about Kali is that even after she basically exiled herself from humanity she never gave up on life but kept working at making things better.
Fletcher on the other hand did basically give up on humanity. He volunteered to become a Man O’ War because they were needed and he was eligible. Instead of the glory and satisfaction of saving his country, he lost everything. Instrumental in the fight to save Liverpool, Fletcher crash-landed his damaged ship on the same deserted island. He had sent his crew away in lifeboats trying to save as many of them as he could while drawing the enemy Man O’ Wars’ attention further away from the port. Months later without any hope of rescue, he decided that since humanity didn’t want him, he didn’t want humanity either. Then he encountered Kali.
One of the many things I enjoyed about this story was how Archer built their friendship and eventual relationship slowly. They moved from fear of and resentment that someone else was on their island through a variety of different phases each with underlying attraction to a full-blown relationship. Both Fletcher and Kali were damaged and worried about being rejected because of their physical differences. Kali was concerned about the scars and permanent changes from her injuries during the Liverpool bombing. Fletcher on the other hand thought Kali would reject him because of his very obvious connection to his ship and his other physical changes as a Man O’ War. When they finally relaxed enough to trust in the other person the scene was so moving and really signified a turning point.
As Kali and Fletcher were dancing around the fact that Kali planned to return to civilization some time and Fletcher was resistant to leaving, the outside world found them. For a while, I thought this meant rescue and repairs for Fletcher, which would force him to decide if he was going to try to quit the Navy and stay on the island or return to his job but Archer decided to throw a wrench in my guesses. I quite enjoyed her surprise and the results so I will leave them unspoiled for you to discover.
I enjoyed reading Skies of Gold and the different aspects of being a Man O’ War or even a regular civilian during the time of war. I think some aspects of this particular story with Fletcher’s past and his struggles with his life really speak to the struggles that men and women are going through now. From the moment I realized that both Fletcher and Kali had survived a horrific battle I had a soft spot for them. I cheered the entire story as they found themselves individually and as a well-partnered couple. I look forward to seeing what Archer comes up with next.
I give Skies of Gold a B+