Wednesday, October 16, 2013

2013 TBR Challenge - Scoundrel

I read Warrior, the first book in this series, ages and ages ago, and bought the whole series as a "boxed" set when it was on sale for Kindle, again quite awhile back. And I've been hoarding it ever since, as I often do with books I know I'll enjoy, but where the author didn't leave me with a strong enough cliffhanger that I have to read the newest book the nanosecond it comes out. (I'm looking at you, Diana Gabaldon, for leaving poor Jem Mackenzie literally in the dark! And you too, George RR Martin, not to name any names lest I spoil TV viewers, but that last major character maybe-death!) Having a few hoarded books gives me a sense of security that I'll never be trapped on a long flight or, worse, holed up in an airport under a weather delay and lack for something entertaining to read.

Anyway, Archer's Blades of the Rose series is fantasy romance with steampunk elements, set in an alternate late 19th century where magic exists and the Blades of the Rose fight to ensure that each nation gets to keep their own magical legacy against the Heirs of Albion, who want to control all the world's magic so the sun will really REALLY never set on the British Empire. They're sort of Indiana Jones with lots of sexytimes--rollicking swashbucklers where good is good, evil is evil, and the characters hurtle from one death-defying adventure to the next.

I picked up Scoundrel now because the October theme for the 2013 Romance TBR Challenge is Paranormal Romance. I didn't like it quite so much as Warrior because of the different hero archetypes involved--Warrior's hero is a rough-around-the-edges soldier who falls for a highborn woman, which I love. (Mmm, Sharpe!) Bennett Day in Scoundrel is more your typical romance novel womanizing rogue, which is much less a fantasy of mine. That said, I loved the heroine, and the swashbuckling was dandy. And speaking of dandies, I'm looking forward to Catullus Graves' story in Stranger. He's the inventor of all the handy gadgets the Blades team uses, and he's a black Briton, which draws my interest since two of my own most recent manuscripts have featured black British characters.


  1. Scoundrel was the book, at the time, that everyone seemed to rave about in this series. I liked it, but not nearly as much as some of the others. Like you, Warrior really worked for me, as did the third book, Rebel. I also liked how Archer slowly brought in more paranormal elements as the series wore on. I'm not a big paranormal reader, so it was nice that she eased me into all that instead of dumping a whole bunch of it on my head right out of the gate.

    1. I'm almost surprised I'm not more of a paranormal fan, because I *love* fantasy and some science fiction, and most of my favorites have strong romantic elements. But most paranormal seems to come from a different mindset than romantic SFF, even if they look similar on the surface. Were you part of the conversation on Twitter yesterday about paranormal as a place where old-school tropes have migrated? That made sense to me as an explanation for why so much paranormal doesn't work for me, because I am NOT a fan of the old-school "bodice ripper," to put it mildly. Archer's books aren't like that, though, IMHO--they're closer to romantic fantasy, though they're ROMANTIC fantasy rather than the romantic FANTASY you get from an author like Jacqueline Carey or Lois McMaster Bujold.

  2. Oh yes! Diana Gabaldon hurry up and take Jem and we readers out of the dark! I haven't read any of Zoe Archer's books but this set sounds like something I might enjoy. That's what I hate about the TBR challenge. For every book I read out of the pile about 5 go into it!