Friday, April 19, 2013

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway for Fate War:Alliance by E.M. Havens

Hi everyone and welcome to my post on the Fate War: Alliance tour! Below you can find more info about the book and author as well as my review and a giveaway of an Amazon GC and 3 ebooks. This is one of my Non-YA reviews, just to let you guys know.

Release date: February 25, 2013
Format: ebook, 270 pages

Goodreads description:
Prince Cole meets Samantha when she walks down the aisle. Though she seems like the polished women he is familiar with, there is something different. She is complicated and full of mystery. Her dowry comes with a promise of air ships and mech capable of defense against their common enemy and for his country to survive, he must unravel her secrets. It is only when each accepts their destinies can they save their people from the plans of the Fate Sovereign.

If you’re looking for a steamy romance, a strong, smart heroine and interesting gadgets, this is the book for you! Fate War is a swords and guns, love and war, Steampunk inspired story that is sure to get your pistons pumping.

Who is E.M. Havens? I’m a lot of things. The word that seems to define me most at the moment is
mom. It can be all consuming. Not only am I a mom of three (one of them is a teenager…pity me), but I also home-school (pity me more). I share this awesome responsibility with the love of my life, best friend, and soul-mate husband.

Add to that, the twenty-five chickens, twelve turkeys, ten guineas, nine pigs, three barn cats, two Great Pyrenees guardian dogs, a Chihuahua, a house cat, and a goose, it makes for one crazy, full, and certainly entertaining life.

Somewhere in there I find the time to write. I started out young writing poems, then moved on to songs. I actually have a Bachelor in Music with a secondary in Science because I can’t stand English. Yes, the writer hates English. I like to read the story for the experience of reading the story, not to nitpick each letter and comma. But I digress.

I eventually found blogging and really enjoyed sharing my life that way. When an unfortunate turn of events separated me from my music equipment, I decided to use my overactive imagination, my love of reading, and my new found hobby, prose writing, to release some of my creative energy. I wrote my first novel and loved the experience. Fate War: Alliance is actually the second novel I wrote and the first to be published. Now I’m working on my third and several sequels to Fate War!

So that’s pretty much me, sitting in the Arbuckle Mountains of Oklahoma, reading, writing, collecting eggs from the coop, and being a schoolmarm. It’s a pretty great life.

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The following review is based on a book copy I got from the tour organizers in exchange for my honest opinion.

I had no clear idea what to expect when I started reading Fate War: Alliance, I was just hoping for a great steampunk read and that was the main reason why I signed up to be part of the tour. While the steampunk elements are there and well-done, the book very much focuses on the romance and on how Samantha and Cole eventually grow closer to one another despite severe obstacles. I’m not a fan of cheesy romance, so you’ll be happy to know that I loved the way it was handled here! The emotional connection between the characters is well-forged and believable, which made the steamy (terrible pun, I know) scenes so much more meaningful and enjoyable.

The book begins with a prologue where we get to know Princess Sam, then aged 11, and Prince Cole, aged 18. Then it skips ten years ahead to the actual events of the book. I’m mentioning this because the fierce Sam we meet then, and the Sam we re-meet seen through Cole’s eyes ten years later when she’s about to marry him are vastly different! Neither of the two spouses really wants this marriage, but it is needed to forge an alliance between their countries against the Fate army. Neither kingdom can stand against their technologically advanced soldiers alone, so they need to unite their forces and combine the mechanic knowledge of Sam’s people with the force of Cole’s father’s army.

The story is narrated in the third person and switches between Cole and Sam. I really enjoyed being in both of their heads, and their character-voices are clearly distinguished and well-drawn! I never felt distant from them simply because the novel is not told in the first person. Both characters have secrets and dark pasts, and it is immediately clear that something has happened to Sam that completely broke her will. She has been taught to do anything her husband will desire of her and completely submit to him, suppressing her own nature. When Cole encourages her to speak for herself and share her opinion, she believes he is testing her and setting her up to fail, while Cole is frustrated that his wife appears to be a vapid, artificial airhead. Not an easy obstacle to overcome, especially after a scene in the beginning that was very hard to read and might upset some people.

A great part of the novel is about Cole trying to find new ways to get through to Sam and rekindle her spirit. He wants to make this marriage work, and unlike most nobles, he actually wants a smart wife at his side as an equal. He is the outsider at court, never adhering to its strict rules. He used to shun responsibility for anything, and I really enjoyed seeing him grow into a more focused, determined person. Once he and Sam understand one another better, the two of them are an amazing team and a force to be reckoned with. Their dialogue is honest and fun, and their bedroom scenes are well-written, but I need to point out that they very much fall into the Adult category, so younger readers… you heard me. Now proceed at your own discretion ;)

As for Sam, she remains a bit of an enigma for a long time. She skirts away from certain trains of thought, so she remains a mystery to the reader nearly as much as to Cole. The distribution of information in this novel was critical, and E.M. Havens managed to pull it off extremely well! Despite the reader’s lack of knowledge, Sam’s character is clearly graspable and fleshed-out, as the broken pieces of her slowly begin to heal and come back together and her full potential unfolds. I felt so sorry for her at many points!

So yes, as you gathered from above, there is definitely no insta-love here! The romance is slow-building and wonderful. The first part of the book is definitely more character-focused, with the war that led to Sam and Cole’s union slipping mostly into the background. That is my minor point of critique: how much of a threat the Fate Army posed was never really felt by me until much closer to the end. We were told about it, but not shown for quite a while. I think incorporating a couple more action scenes to drive that threat home earlier would have been good – even though I liked the slow romance and coming to care about the characters, there is a tiny drag in that part of the book, though I never lost interest. I promise, in the final third or so you will not want to put it down as mysteries unravel and twist and everything the characters hold dear is at stake!

Now, on to the steampunk elements. I think this novel is great for both people who are familiar with the genre as well as those who are not. The gadgets and tinkering in the book are awesome, but not overwhelming. There are not page-long descriptions of mechanisms or a ton of new words to learn, so fear not, rookies! The technology actually makes sense and really adds to the plot, both the action and the emotional part. The world building was great in general, there was enough to ground the reader in the beginning, but no big info-dump! Everything came in gradually and has to be inferred, the reader is never spoon-fed or belittled but also not left floundering in unfamiliar territory.

So, overall? A novel with wonderfully fleshed-out characters that surprise you, great world-building, a slow but passionate romance, a couple twists that will make your jaw drop, and gadgets you will want to own for yourself. The action curve is a little low at the beginning but skyrockets near the end, with multiple plot-twists, airship battles, and anything else your little steampunk heart could desire. Most things are nicely tied-up, but there are also subplots I still want answers for and that will make for a great sequel. Fans of both High Fantasy and Steampunk with quirky, strong characters will definitely enjoy this!

P.S.: by the way, this is one of the most beautifully-designed ebooks I’ve read so far! The chapter headings were so beautiful, with a cogs-and-wheels type design! A minor detail, but definitely one I loved :)

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  1. WOW! Thank you, Carmen, for taking the time to give such a detailed review. I think readers are well informed now of the pros and cons. I'm glad you enjoyed my book!

    1. You're welcome :) I try to write shorter reviews but I somehow never manage to shut up ^^'' I'm glad you liked the way I handled it though!

  2. Glad they had a well formed romance with emotional connections and it was believeable, also that the steampunk was well done.
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  3. Thanks Brandi,

    I was pretty tired of reading cheezy, unrealistic romances so I just wrote the book I wanted to read. LOL!