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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wings of Equity by Sean Kennedy



Wings of Equity by Sean Kennedy
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Steampunk)
Length: Full Length (252 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Phlox

The truth is that those who make a difference usually get martyred. What good are you dead?

Ezra Kneebone is most at home in the skies, piloting his airship with his best friend Jazz, even if it doesn’t quite pay the bills or warm Ezra’s empty bed. Those same skies are also the territory of a man known as Icarus, who uses his metal wings to steal from the rich and feed the poor. Icarus and Ezra could be soul mates but for one thing: Icarus has a bounty on his head, and Ezra is desperate for money.

Against the wishes of Jazz and her partner, the formidable Lady Bart, Ezra is determined to get his man... in more ways than one. But when Icarus saves Ezra’s life, Ezra realizes he would be betraying a hero—and his heart—if he turned Icarus in. Unfortunately, the bounty is tempting more than one hunter, and Ezra will find that loving a fugitive may mean becoming one too.

I’d just been asking myself recently why there isn’t more M/M steampunk – and look, here we are! While the genre often sacrifices dramatic elements for atmosphere and tech, this most certainly was not the case here. The straightforward plot proceeds at an excellent pace, breathtaking flight and aerial battle scenes alternating with more personal drama, and the characterization does not suffer as a result of technical description.

Mr. Kennedy makes a bold choice in narrators here. Rather than the more traditional alternating POV between the two principles in the romance, he has us alternating between our often-harried hero, Ezra, and his business partner and friend, Jazz. Jazz and her lover, Lady Bart, play the supporting roles here, though their part of the story is told with sympathy and a loving eye for detail. The reader is kept at a distance from Icarus this way, but Jazz’s view of the world is unique and her mix of idealism and pragmatism helps us see both Ezra and Icarus through other eyes. Ezra himself is utterly charming; a man whose stubbornness and pride drive him to do things that makes his heart cringe. He wants to be hard, to be as tough as anyone out there, but his own innate sense of justice keeps scuttling his best laid plans.

The first chapter does have some issues with passages that skirt dangerously close to being an information dump. There is a forced feeling to some of the sentences, as if trying too hard for better sounding words, and a somewhat forced feel to the initial bantering dialogue, as if Ezra and Jazz know we’re listening. But keep going, gentle readers. Once Mr. Kennedy hits his stride, the tone and flow of the writing slide into a marvelous rhythm, with more believable, often biting, often funny dialogue, and scene description that will have you feeling, sometimes painfully, the locale.

Some readers may feel a bit of convenience in the ending. For me, though, this was such a character-driven piece, that any bit of luck our heroes had in the end was a profound relief. There is a sense of childlike wonder in Ezra, a sense of adventure and discovery under the carefully displayed cynicism, that the reader can’t help but hope things turn out well for him. It’s often a heart stopping ride, but this is a flight well worth taking.


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