Award-winning author Katie MacAlister has published dozens of acclaimed novels. When Captain Octavia Pye discovers people not wearing proper 19th-century fashions aboard her Victorian airship, she wonders if they’re pirates. The reality is—they’re actually from an alternate universe.
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I went into this book hoping for a light and entertaining listen, and while Steamed is certainly light, its lack of good characterization, absurd excuse for a romantic plot, and lack of internal consistency keep it from being entertaining. Octavia Pye, the no-nonsense captain of the airship Tesla, is the most likeable of the bunch, although she possesses an unbelievable ability to be distracted by hero Jack's muscles in the midst of danger. Jack, on the other hand, is a sorry excuse for a hero--he pouts, acts like a petulant child, and claims to love Octavia even though he really only ever talks (or thinks) about her breasts and behind. Within three days of meeting her, Jack has come up with an annoying list of nicknames for her (Tavvy, Tavey, sweetheart, etc.) and behaves so possessively that it's hard to see why Octavia doesn't just toss him overboard. Why she falls in love with him is completely a mystery to the reader--no one really ever discusses their reasons in the text, and there are precious few pieces of evidence indicating why Jack would be a good catch.
I could forgive the unbelievable (and unpalatable) romance between the two leads if the rest of the book made up for it, but this is not the case. The other characters are one-note, with a salty tar obsessed with sex, a cheeky lad, raving Spaniard, and sentimental Scotsman adding little to the plot and much less to the atmosphere. The world of the book has a lot of potential for development, but nothing in it seems real because it is never explained or described in a way that makes us feel like Octavia and her crew occupy a real world that is complex and dynamic. Skip this one, and check out the Alexia Tarrabotti novels instead if you want a good blend of steampunk/romance.
I actually read this when it first came out, but I've listened to as many Katie MacAlister books as Audible has to offer, so I thought I'd give this one a listen too. The story is great and I can't wait for the second book; however, the narration for this book could have been better. Both narrators do a great job, but they should have picked one to do the entire book. Instead, they let Mr. Davis narrate the story from the main male character's point of view and Ms. Amato narrate the story from the main female character's point of view. Since they both interact with the other characters, you hear different voices and dialects for the same character depending on who's telling the story at the moment. It definitely detracts from the story, but it would have been much worse if the narrators hadn't been as talented as they are.