Other Reviewers: Goodreads
This novella is written by Rhys Ford, someone whom I have adored as a writer for some time. Almost everything she writes I love, and it is always difficult for me to find fault with her writing. As full disclosure, I was given this book for and honest review. However, my opinions are honest.
First things first, this is a novella, pretty short at 90 pages. So the criteria that I might have on a full-length book review would not be fair against this size. Thus, this will be a “Quickie Review”, with some different criteria.
Page count: 90
One night, Marcus Stenhill, Viscount Westwood discovers a man in the act of being beaten by some drunk youths. After saving the man, Marcus uncovers that this Robin Harris was responsible for death and mayhem years before by the Society. While there is chemistry between Marcus and Robin, is it safe or possible for them to forgive the past and move forward together?
What I liked about this story is that it is not “sex focused”, but rather gives a large percentage of the novella to the plot, world building, and backstories. That being said, this is HEA story with a hot sex scene at the end. We get perspectives from Robin and Marcus, which I appreciated. Because of the shortness of the novella, any interaction between the two main characters must be packed full of relationship building.
- The World Building: This is the best aspect of the story. We get into the world quickly, as the author builds the story through Marcus’s memory and observations. Bits of the conflict in the past give us hints of what led to the world’s current environment:
Thousands had suffered at the hands of the Society. They’d brought about the rise of the Golems, creatures – humans according to the courts – created in workshops and grown to adolescence in bowls of plasma and blood, only to be used as shock troops and assassins for the Society’s cause. They’d been terrorists of the basest form, attacking the very foundation of the British Empire, but Marcus had a difficult time reconciling the idea of the man laid out before him had anything to do with their destructive agenda.
- Even Has a Theme: I normally do not worry about a theme in this size of a novella. However, I found something powerful in the story:
A man with power protects and serves those lesser than he. It is only the weak who use their power to do harm.
This is the truth that both men have discovered and spend their energy in life now giving back to others. We see it with Marcus early on as he saves Robin; Robin has spent his recent time trying to make other’s lives better with his skills.
What Could be Better:
- Too Short: That goes without saying because it is 90 pages. The reason that this is 4 stars instead of 5 stars was that while I did take the fact that it was a novella into account, I was still left wanting. We had a definitive ending, and it was happy. Yet, I still felt like some other action was needed. More exterior conflict? More relationship building?
I really enjoyed this book. There are some aspects to the world building that I do not want to get into here as it would spoil the plot. However, because it deals with homosexuality, laws, and society, I can see how this book would not work for a full length gay romance novel. I think the author did the right thing: give us an intriguing and entertaining look at a steam punk world to want more. I think now Rhys Ford can build a similar world with huge plot lines and characters that we will drool over for years and years of series…. hint…. hint…