Balanced on the Blade's Edge is a new steampunk romance novel by Lindsey Buroker, who happens to be my personal favorite indie author. I adore her Emperor's Edge series (you can read the first book for FREE) so when I heard she was publishing a steampunk romance, I knew I had to check it out.
Like the Emperor's Edge series, this book is set in a fantasy world with steampunk elements. The two main characters are both well developed and the narration splits between them. Sardelle is a mage from a dead culture who was wiped off the map 300 years before the present time. She was saved but trapped in stasis buried under tons of rock in her people's mountain home. The approach of miners finally revives her, and she finds everything she has known is gone, replaced by the culture of those who killed her people. What's more, she's now trapped in a prison camp among people who will kill her if they suspect her of witchcraft.
Colonel Ridge Zirklander has just been assigned to take over command of this prison mine, as punishment for finally mouthing off to the wrong diplomat. He's a pilot and a national hero in the ongoing war to defend Iskandia from magic using conquerors. He's appalled at the conditions he finds in the mountain, and puzzled by the mysterious woman who appeared from nowhere right before he arrived. He knows she isn't what she claims, but is she a dangerous spy or harmless academic?
The majority of the book centers around the interactions of these two characters who are inclined to really like one another, despite the fact that they have good reasons not to trust one another and conflicting agendas. As a romance, I found it very enjoyable although not as compelling as some of my very favorites in the genre. And for those who are bothered by explicit content, there isn't much here at all.
The book is fairly light on steampunk elements, though the universe is certainly very steampunk friendly. There honestly isn't as much description of either the technology or the world outside the prison as I would like, so I don't feel I can really say how steampunk they really are. There is a lot of focus on the magic of this world and how it works and that is fascinating and pretty original. There are airships and pilots and the military, so I guess that's enough.
Overall my takeaway from this book is that I really like the characters and think there's good potential for the world with some more development. I hope this becomes a series. It was a quick read, but a very enjoyable one. For $2.99, the current price, it's hard to go wrong. But I don't think it quite equals the author's work in Emperor's Edge or the Encrypted books. And I was hoping for more steampunk in a book called explicitly a steampunk romance.