Malachi follows the rules as a course of habit. Ever since he lost his parents in an airship accident, his feet have been firmly on the ground, as determined by his uncle—but his head flies high in the clouds. More than anything he wishes to work on an airship, to travel and see the world and have wonderful adventures.
One day on the streets of Aerial City, he bumps into Ian, an airship pilot who seems utterly taken by Malachi. In disguise as Mac, Malachi sneaks out of his family mansion to work on an airship, to do drudge work, becoming grimy and sweaty—and he couldn’t love it more. Just as he’s falling hard for the handsome pilot, Ian. Soon Malachi has to decide what he wants out of life and whether he’s ready to fight for it.
As the first novella in the Aerial City steampunk series, this one was very sweet, amazingly hot, and with characters one couldn’t help but fall for. Malachi is the point of view protagonist, told in third person. He is someone who has dreamed of more but never before dared to actually reach for his dreams. A situation we can all relate to. He’s kind and good, modest and shy, but with a growing will to pursue his dreams. That makes him very brave and admirable.
Ian’s point of view wasn’t given as such. But I was swept away from his very first smile and adorable blush when courting Malachi. He’s an honorable, good man, and I liked the way the two young men explored their feelings and sensuality, growing closer with each passing day. The scenes aren’t particularly descriptive or detailed but they do quite subtly show the emotions both men feel.
The other main characters—Malachi’s uncle Ezekiel and the airship captain Bette—both have their moments. Ezekiel proves that first impressions can be deceiving and Bette shows how much a person can achieve when someone believes in them. Their portrayals felt honest and no-nonsense, which I liked.
The plot mainly consists of Malachi becoming a man, rising from inexperience and hiding to learning new ways to live and to admit to himself and others what he wants out of life. Though this story has a sensual undertone, I found it curious that no actual sex words were used, no dirty pillow talk or crass vocabularies of sexual organs and such. In that sense, this was a sweet romance, fitting to any kind of reader.
In short, I easily recommend this to all lovers of steampunk and/or sweet romance with a touch of sensual spice. This novella is short and it’ll whisk you away to the clouds, as I expect the sequel—Clockwork Bargain—will do as well, since both stories have the same protagonists. Highly recommended.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.