Review: Stranger by Zoe Archer (Blades of the Rose #4)
December 1 2010
Mass Market Paperback
Yummy Man – Catullus Graves
Kick Ass Chick – Gemma Murphy
“Gemma Murphy has a nose for a story – even if the boys in Chicago’s newsrooms would rather focus on her chest. So when she runs into a handsome man of mystery discussing how to save the world from fancy-pants Brit conspirators, she’s sensing a scoop. Especially when he mentions there’s magic involved. Of course, getting him on the record would be easier if he hadn’t caught her eavesdropping…Catullus Graves knows what it’s like to be shut out: his ancestors were slaves. And he’s a genius inventor with appropriately eccentric habits, so even people who love him find him a little odd. But after meeting a certain redheaded scribbler, he’s thinking of other types of science. Inconvenient, given that he needs to focus on preventing the end of the world as we know it. But with Gemma’s insatiable curiosity sparking Catullus’ inventive impulses, they might set off something explosive anyway…”
I have been looking forward to reading this book, but at the same time I have been dreading it because it’s the last in the series for now. At least, I hope only for now… ‘The Blades of the Rose’ series by Zoe Archer is a fun series filled with adventure and wit. And Stranger, book four in the series, is no exception.
Stranger takes place pretty much immediately after Rebel ends. Catullus, Astrid, Lesperance (and Gemma in the shadows) are on a ship crossing the Atlantic on their way back to England to stop the crazy Heirs of Albion from controlling the world’s magical Sources. The Heirs are very close to their goal of England dominating the world. Catullus, Astrid and Lesperance are members of The Blades of the Rose, an organization created to fight for and protect these magical Sources. Gemma is a reporter. We met her in the previous book. She and Catullus felt an instant connection when they first met. But on top of that, Gemma sensed a story. So she decided to follow the trio to England. Very brave of her – especially considering she is not only a reporter, but also a woman. Oh, and it’s 1875.
Catullus Graves is the only character that appears in every book. He is the resident genius of the group and his inventions save their hide on many occasions. He’s the steady one. The one you know will keep his brain cells even when faced with the direst of situations. Catullus is very much an intellectual. His mind never rests and he rarely sleeps. He even claims to only be able to be captivated by a woman for a very short time before he starts thinking of a new invention or his latest project. So it was wonderful watching him be a little distracted by Gemma and watching his mind and his heart do a little dance. I especially liked seeing Catullus in Otherworld, a place where logic doesn’t exist. It put Catullus right off his game. To see him strain with not being able to make sense of his surroundings and not being able to work through issues using simple logic… But he dealt with it like a champ. It really put a nice spin on his character – and helped me like him even more. It made him more personable and real.
And I can’t believe how much he made me blush! Oh Catullus! Just goes to show you that even the nerdish types can be naughty naughty.
I loved Gemma for him. She is strong willed and smart. She instinctively knows what he needs. Catullus carries the weight of the world on his shoulders and I really like how she reminds him that he’s not alone. That he has people around him who are willing to help, her included. Once again, Zoe made a great match.
A little side note about the women in this entire series: I love them! They are all independent and totally kick ass! They are not all fighters or soldiers, but they are fighters in their own ways. That is always something I worry about in historically based novels. The women can sometimes be a little weak. And a strong woman can be seen as a hindrance by the men. But not in these books. Smart and strong women are adored. In fact, those are qualities that the men in this series admire. Which goes to show you that these Blades of the Rose men are really ahead of their time. They treat the women of their organization as equals. Equals. Now there’s a concept in 1875.
Being an action adventure book, Stranger has many scenes that will make your blood pump faster. And these action scenes are very well written. You can really picture these fights and chases vividly. I enjoyed them. And what was equally fun was seeing all the characters from the first three books reunite for the big fight. Even some of the secondary characters from the other books came back in Stranger. It was like seeing old friends again and made me smile.
This series is different from anything I have read before. Fun stories with likable characters you want to see succeed. Stranger finishes this particular story arc wonderfully. If you have yet to try this series, DO IT! You’ll be glad you did.
Later this morning I will be posting my interview with Zoe Archer where she will answer whether or not there will be more Blade books and about writing action scenes so be sure to come back for that. And…there might be a little giveaway. 😉
Giggle worthy quotes
“‘I often think,’ he replied. ‘And find it to be a highly underutilized pastime.'”
“She found herself mollified. The man could speak so beautifully. Gemma felt she could listen to him describe the digestive system of jellyfish and she would be enthralled.”
“‘Most people think I’m a little bit crazy.’
Catullus leaned forward as well, velvety eyes dancing as he whispered back, ‘Me too.'”
Sigh worthy quote
“Peace. She’d given him peace.”