Three shorts

>> Friday, August 03, 2018

TITLE: Wrecked
AUTHOR: Meljean Brook

This novella, set in the Iron Seas universe, was originally published in the Fire & Frost anthology. Elizabeth escaped from her father several years ago and has been evading the people he's sent after her ever since. One of them is Caius. Caius actually captured her at one point, but she escaped, and in a way that made him believe she'd fallen to her death. Now they have met again.

This is a short one, but it packs a punch. Elizabeth and Caius have had many years to develop feelings for each other, but have had to suppress them. When they finally don't have to, it's very, very satisfying. Caius' regrets about the past and the way he reacts when he realises Elizabeth is still alive were lovely. Also, the protagonists' long history made the novella work perfectly, since we didn't have to believe they'd fallen madly in love in a few hours. Add the intrigue about why exactly Elizabeth had needed to escape from her father, plus some danger (daddy dearest hasn't given up on getting her back, of course), and this made for a very exciting story.

MY GRADE: A B+.

TITLE: Ember
AUTHOR: Bettie Sharpe

So, we have a Prince Charming situation where the charming is literal. When he was born, a witch bestowed the "charm" on him that he would be irresistible to everyone. And it works. No one can resist him. He gets whatever and whomever he wants. The exception is Ember, a powerful witch in her own right, whose mother has helped her use magic to be immune to the false attraction.

This is obviously a fairy tale retelling, but what's probably not obvious from the above is which one. What this is is a wonderfully subversive version of Cinderella. That element works beautifully, because it's lots fun of seeing how Sharpe can follow the bare lines of the traditional fairy story quite closely, while changing the spirit of it completely. But that's not all that this story provides. It's also a really satisfying romance, with a particularly strong heroine. I'm not going to say much more, because even in the romance there are quite a few unexpected things. I would highly recommend reading it to find out what these are.

MY GRADE: Also a B+.

TITLE: Agamemnon Frost and the House of Death
AUTHOR: Kim Knox

I bought this one because it's set in Liverpool. Steampunk Victorian Liverpool, but Liverpool all the same, and the first scenes actually take place in the neighbourhood where I used to live. It's the first in an m/m series.

Edgar Mason used to be a soldier, but then the British Army decided to employ machines rather than men, and he was out of a job. Since then, he's made a living as a personal servant through a sort of employment agency. One night he's hired by a man throwing a party to serve one of his guests, Agamemnon Frost. Edgar's first thought is that Agamemnon is a useless dandy, but it turns out his dandyish appearance conceals some very dangerous skills. And he soon needs to put them into use, with Edgar's help, because all hell breaks loose.

I gave up after a while with this one. It was all a bit too ridiculous. It wasn't so much the alien invasions and shocking, dastardly plans, but the interactions between the characters. The characters, their reactions, the dialogue, it all felt completely unbelievable. Not for me.

MY GRADE: DNF

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