Saturday, May 4, 2013

Book Review: Armored Hearts

My latest read is Armored Hearts, but Pauline Creeden and Melisa Lee.

I've been excited about this one since reading an excerpt a month or so ago.

Disclosure: I have a signed contract with Alt-Wit Press, the publisher of this book. Despite that, I will try to give my honest opinion of this work, which I have no financial interest in.

Gareth is a crippled boy in early 1900's England who's confined to a wheelchair... until he sees a girl fall from a tree, and suddenly he's flying. Skip forward a few years.. he's keeping the flying secret from everyone except his aunt (who's younger than him). He's cranky with everyone else, too. Out of nowhere, a girl from America shows up and wants to marry him...

I really loved this. It's part historical fiction, part Steampunk, and part romance. Why list historical fiction and steampunk? Isn't that redundant? More on that later...


What I love:

So many things here. In no particular order:

Above, I listed the book as historical fiction and Steampunk. Many would see this as redundant, as Steampunk is fantasy/sci-fi set in the past, with future tech re-imagined to how it might have worked with materials available at the time. Historical fiction, on the other hand, is telling a fictional tale while staying as period-accurate as possible. Steampunk tends to stray a bit from period accuracy, and that's fine, as it's alt-history, and... well, not historical fiction.
Armored Hearts, on the other hand, blends the two almost seamlessly. From the differences in American and English characteristics (with an English bias. Appropriate, as the POV character is English.) Also, the religious content is spot-on period accurate. The British characters might possibly believe in God in a general way, but aren't too concerned with religion in general. The American characters are almost evangelical. Fitting, as in this time period, the power of the Church of England was waning, while the Great Awakening had just happened in America. All sorts of lovely historicaly accurate tidbits like this are in the book.

Also, I love the romance element in the book. The pacing is right, the reactions are perfect... Alt-Wit press seems to really grok (hey, it's steampunk, I'll use a nerd term if I want too!") the real definition of romance. Most everyone else on the planet these days seems to confuse lust with romance. Here, we have two people fall in love. And it's beautiful. And you can read it to your children.

The plot is interesting too. We have an opening, middle, and end. The book's ending leaves it very open to a sequel, but unlike another book I've read recently, Armored Hearts still concludes it's plot arcs.

What I didn't like:

Gonna have to stretch here.

A few characters almost come off as too feminist for the times. It seems women are the only ones who dabble in tech inventions, and it's this whole secret society thing.... It's not really that pronounced, though, and I may be reading more into it than intended, or mis-interperting something. It's only a minor thing though, and I had to think over the story for a while specifically looking for a negative to put here to even come up with this...

Spoiler .........

.........


I'm not sure if Gareth and Jessie ever actually consummated their marriage... it's a little vauge, which is period appropriate, but still...


Over-all, I give it five stars. I love it, and want more. This one will be re-read. I could go on for a while more about this book, but there'd be even more spoilers, so...



Oh, look, a give-away!