My review cross-posted from Joyfully Reviewed: http://www.joyfullyreviewed.com/new-reviews/riveted-by-meljean-brook
For generations, the women of Hannasvik have kept their all-female village hidden from outsiders. With one careless action, Annika Fridasdotter endangered the safety of Hannasvik. When Annika’s sister, Källa, took the blame for Annika’s actions and argued with the village elders, she was exiled. In the four years since Källa’s departure, Annika has been serving as an engineer on the airship Phatéon, flying from port to port in search of her sister. But when David Kentewess boards the Phatéon, Annika fears the handsome volcanologist will draw the secrets of Hannasvik out of her.
David Kentewess is a man on a mission. He’s determined to uphold his mother’s dying wish and bury her runes on the holy mountain of her native village. The only problem? He’s never been able to discover where in Iceland that village is. Then he meets Annika, the first woman whose accent is similar to his mother’s. David can’t let Annika go without uncovering her secrets. However, answers aren’t all David wants from Annika. The attraction between them burns bright and hot and it’s not long before the two begin to fall in love. But their budding relationship is threatened by a madman who has set his sights on destroying all David and Annika hold dear…
Passion, danger, adventure, and innovation all blend together in the riveting Riveted. Meljean Brook’s third full-length Iron Seas story is wholly unique and a joy to read. I love that Ms. Brook took the Iron Seas series in a different direction, while retaining the flow and feel of the series as a whole. Riveted focuses on a reinvented version of nineteenth century Iceland, and I absolutely love how Ms. Brook (and, by extension, her characters) mix technology with mythology. I won’t spoil the fun of Ms. Brook’s world-building by trying to describe it. Rather, I’ll leave it by saying the world of Riveted is simply incredible. If Annika and David weren’t such interesting characters, they might have been overshadowed by the fascinating technological and social aspects of Riveted.
Fortunately, David and Annika are wonderfully entertaining protagonists. Annika is a dreamer; a kind-hearted woman who has always been told she runs from everything when, in fact, she is surprisingly stalwart when necessary. It’s easy for readers to see Annika’s inner strength, but one of the best parts of Riveted was seeing Annika realize the extent of her capabilities. David, in turn, is a brilliant man who is often treated by others as something less than human because of his prosthetic legs, arm, and eye. Just as David sees Annika for who she truly is, she does the same for him. I adored these two together, and watching them fall in love (and lust) made me smile while reading Riveted.
There are many things to love about Riveted. The plot, the protagonists, the steampunk aspects, the messages of understanding and not fearing people who are different from you…there’s something for everyone in Riveted. The only thing that kept Riveted from being a perfect read for me was the actions of a few secondary characters. I don’t mean to be cryptic, but without spoiling the story, I can say that there are some actions both the villain and Annika’s sister Källa take that didn’t seem to fit with their characters. This made a few parts of Riveted feel contrived and stilted, which was a pity for the rest of the story felt completely organic. Still, even with those small distractions, I enjoyed Riveted.
Riveted is the third full-length novel in the Iron Seas series, but you don’t have to have read The Iron Duke, Heart of Steel, or any of the novellas or short stories to follow along. In fact, if you’ve never read the steampunk before, Riveted is an excellent introduction to the genre. That being said, if you enjoy steampunk romance (or find yourself intrigued after reading Riveted), definitely give the rest of the series a try. I myself happen to be particularly fond of the novella “Here There Be Monsters.”
Riveted is a wonderfully creative book with a surprisingly sweet romance at its heart. Whether you like steampunk, romance, or both, don’t miss out on reading David and Annika’s story!