|As they continue their expedition across Australia, Ariq is determined to stay close to Zenobia and figure out what kind of game she’s playing—even as his admiration for the enigmatic woman starts to override his suspicion. |
For Zenobia, revealing her identity to a man who once made his living outside of the law is out of the question—even though Ariq’s dashing looks and blunt manner are distractingly appealing.
But before anyone’s secrets or desires can be exposed, an unexpected attack threatens to destroy them all…
This installment starts with tension still high between Zenobia and Ariq – she still believes that he spoke poorly of her and he still knows she’s not being truthful and is trying to figure out if the attack on her airship was because of her, or if she’s just caught up in the middle of someone else’s fight. He’s also intrigued by her waterproof pack, a pack that she keeps Archimedes’ letters in along with her current writing notes and some gold, should she need to pay off any abductors who come for her, it’s happened before and she likes to be prepared! Zenobia is trying to figure out how to safely find passage to the Red City where her friend Helene’s husband is stationed. To do so means finding a safe, reliable airship of which there are none, or traveling by land through dangerous areas, including the five dens – more on them later. Ariq won’t let her go alone so they all set out by land with their first stop being the dens so Ariq can work his contacts and try to figure out who’s behind the marauder attacks.
Their journey takes a dangerous turn when they encounter a boilerworm, a dangerous creature that attacks from underground, grabbing his prey in steel trap jaws and twisting his teeth in such a way that drags whatever it has in its mouth down into the worm and obviously death. During the attack, Zenobia’s two bodyguards, Mara and Cooper, a married couple, are caught. Cooper’s life is in danger and Mara and Ariq risk theirs to save him. It’s intense, the descriptions of the worm and the struggle to save Cooper is so well done and detailed I could easily picture how everything was set up and going down. I love that, being able to set the scene so easily in my head, Meljean Brook has done an amazing job of this throughout the entire Iron Seas series.
There is some fallout from this attack and the group needs to hurry to the dens to seek medical attention for one of their members. This installment ends when Ariq finds out more about Zenobia then she ever wanted him to and now Ariq is the one who’s furious and ready to demand some answers from Zenobia.
The group talking about the boilerworms:
“Have you seen one?” Helene asked.
“Several. All small ones. I’ve heard tales of larger.” [Ariq]
“Tales of larger?” From fish to success, it never changed. “Or perhaps the others were of the same small size. Men have a habit of exaggerating dimensions, especially when there is no one to corroborate the reality,” Zenobia said dryly.
His grin hit her in the chest. (…) Helene averted her face, cheeks blazing red. Why? Zenobia hadn’t said anything even remotely-
Blast it all. She hadn’t meant to refer to men who exaggerated the size of anything else. But apparently the governor’s [Ariq] grin had sent Helene’s imagination running straight into his pants.
That was enough of that. She lifted her chin. “So your worm was the smallest?”
His grin became a deep laugh. “Yes.”
Oh he had no shame.
Release Date: April 22, 2014
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*eARC provided by publisher for review*