Monday, 7 April 2014

Review: Balanced on the Blade's Edge

Balanced on the Blade's Edge
Balanced on the Blade's Edge by Lindsay Buroker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Normally I give anything described as a "steampunk romance" a big swerve, because they tend to be silly and not very well written. However, with the Lindsay Buroker brand behind it, I was confident that this would be the opposite, and I was right. While I don't go to a Buroker book expecting literature, I do go to one expecting to be competently entertained, and that was absolutely the case here.

The "main character has magic, which is forbidden" trope is pretty well-worn by this time, but it works here. This isn't just paint-by-numbers, but a fresh combination of classic elements with a few new twists. The cocky flyboy who's exiled because he ignores protocol one time too many, the incompetently run, remote prison that can be reformed with some empathy and thought, even the quest for an enchanted sword, all these are given a polish and come out feeling new.

The romance itself avoided the excesses of the genre, and I found it believable. The characters actually were attractive people (not a beast and an idiot, as is so often the case), they weren't starry-eyed but their connection felt natural and real, and the backstory about why neither of them had found such a connection before was plausible.

There was plenty of action and tension, in which pragmatic characters danced on the crumbling edge of their competence under multiple pressures to succeed, a hallmark of Lindsay Buroker's style.

As usual with a novella, I did wish it had been a bit longer, in particular that we had got more of the story between the last chapter and the epilogue. I can see why that was left out, though, and it's a minor loss.

Overall, well up to this author's usual high standard.

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