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3.8 out of 5
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  • Great Read!

    This book had been unavailable for a good while (rights reverting to author etc...) but at last it's been republished by the author. And it's good! Worth the wait. :) I'm pretty sure I was guided to this by something one of my fave authors, KJ Charles said on Twitter, so thank you KJ! What we have is ... I guess it's best termed as a steampunk adventure, set in the mid-1800's in the midst of The Opium War, with a lovely undercurrent of romance. Soling is the heroine and while she's young - 18 years old - she's not annoyingly young. The daughter of a brilliant engineer executed by the emperor when she was but a child, she's had a hard and hardscrabble life over the past eight years. She takes care of her opium-addicted mother and her younger brother and is a very smart cookie in her own right. She heads from her small village into the city to sell the last keepsake she has of her beloved father to feed her family and the adventure begins. She meets a bunch of different people from her and her father's past. Men that worked with her father. The man she was once betrothed to. The Crown Prince too. And not only are there the devil English foreigners, there's an army of rebels to contend with. And through it all, she refuses to panic, refuses to give in to her fears, refuses to give up on getting back to her family and getting them to safety. The girl has gumption, dammit! *LOL* And she has flaws as well which makes her likable and not obnoxious. And there is some romance. There's a spark between Soling and one of her father's protegés as well as tons of chemistry between her and he one-time betrothed. In fact, there's a scene between the two of them where he's measuring her foot for a mechanical boot type thing that is SO damned sexy while being so simple. AMAZING! I had one small problem while reading and that was that in my epub copy, Chapter 29 ended up as being Chapter 31. So things that were referenced in the following two chapters I hadn't read yet! Most annoying, but shit happens. Anyway... great book! VERY enjoyable and I will be looking forward to the next part of Soling's adventure!

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  • Steampunk China powered by gunpowder!

    This was a fascinating reimagining of China during the Opium Wars with a steampunk vibe, only China's technology is based on gunpowder instead of steam power. China has fallen behind the western world and they are now trying to rebuild their warships and other technology. Since the emperor executed most of the engineers and scientists he thought were responsible for previous failures, the young crown prince is scrambling to find those who survived the purge and bring them together to save the empire from the encroachment of western traders and an army of rebels from within who are fed up with the Imperial government. Jin Soling must go on an epic journey to save her family and possibly help save the empire. Seemingly tossed by fate from one dire situation to the next, Soling must deal with a feared, and dashing, rebel leader, as well as the engineer who was once her betrothed. The story is action-packed, with a lot of cool gadgets and technology built into this world. There is a slow romance building, but most of the focus is on the action and Soling's torn allegiances between the empire that she has always been loyal to and the rebels who want to bring about needed changes. While one major conflict is resolved, the story is definitely just the beginning of the Gunpowder Chronicles. There is no real HEA, and everything is still very much up in the air.

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  • Absolutely delightful - love the silkpunk setting!

    Everything changed for Jin Soling and her family when the Emperor executed her father, a master engineer, for his failure to defend the Qing Empire from the English ‘devil ships.’ Soling sets off on a quest which involves her in Imperial and rebel plots, testing her loyalties as she struggles to figure out whom she can trust and which side she is on. Fresh, wonderfully imaginative, packed full of adventure and intoxicating, restrained passion. An absolutely delight. I immediately bought the next book in the series!

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