The Ether Chronicles:
From Avon Impulse
ISBN (Print on Demand): 9780062241443
ISBN (e-book): 978006210963
Kalindi MacNeil survived the devastating enemy airship attack that obliterated Liverpool, but even her engineering skills can’t seem to repair her broken heart. Seeking to put her life back together, Kali retreats to a desolate, deserted island—only to discover she’s not alone. Captain Fletcher Adams, an elite man/machine hybrid, a Man O’ War, crashed his battle-damaged airship into this deserted island after Liverpool, never expecting to survive the wreck. But survive he did.
Believing he is nothing but a living weapon, Fletcher is wary of his new-found companion—a pretty, damaged, but determined young woman. Together they are stranded on the deserted island, and it is only a matter of time until desire gets the best of both of them. Soon Kali and Fletcher find they may be just what the other needed. But a danger from beyond the island puts them to the test. Will it rip them apart or bond their hearts forever?
“Skies of Gold is the ultimate deserted island fantasy book à la Steampunk. I loved it!” – Rabid Reads
“This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, and I highly recommend it. Every single scene, sentence, even word feels lovingly crafted and thought out to pull together an amazing story of two people getting a fresh chance at a new and improved life.” – Smexy Books
At least he didn’t press her with questions—what had brought her here, how long she planned on staying. And she wouldn’t ask him the same questions.
Still, she couldn’t help her curiosity. He wore a long navy coat, patched in places and a little threadbare, with tarnished buckles. Standard naval issue. All of his clothing seemed clean but slightly ragged, from his linen shirt, to the buckskin breeches clinging tightly to his dense, burly thighs, to the scuffed tall boots, stained with seawater.
Was he a disgraced sailor? A deserter? Or one who’d left the navy but kept some of the trappings.
Whoever he was, he continued to stare at her as if she’d descended from the sky on iron wings. Well, he hadn’t looked in disgust at her artificial leg, and he wasn’t leering at her, either. Two small elements in his favor.
“You’ve got an odd voice,” he said suddenly.
“And you’re an expert conversationalist,” she retorted.
A slight ruddy color stained his cheeks above his beard. “Been a while since I had company. But”—he narrowed his eyes, thoughtful—“I hear a burr in your accent, and a lilt of Hindi, too.”
She tried to hide her surprise. “My father’s Scottish. Maa’s from Nagpur.”
He nodded contemplatively. “Bit of Scouse in there, too.”
Here was another shock. She’d only lived in Liverpool for five years, but apparently it had been enough to give her accent some color. A perceptive man, this wild former sailor. Unease crept through her belly. She’d come here to be alone, not to think of the past, but those plans were crumbling apart.
“The last place I lived was Liverpool,” she said cautiously. She could turn and flee, ending the conversation, but even under good conditions, her prosthetic didn’t let her run fast. This stranger could easily catch her. The length of his stride was twice her own. Maybe more.
He was silent, however, for a long moment. Then, “The Battle of Liverpool. You were there.”
Her left leg suddenly ached, and the air in her lungs turned brittle. “And I survived. Which is more than I can say for more than half the people with me on the ground.”
Images, sounds, smells—phantom senses assaulted her.
Hapsburg and Russian airships, captained by Man O’ Wars, dropping explosive devices upon the city, setting everything ablaze. Flattening buildings and crushing the men, women, and children within them. Screams. Cries. The useless clanging of the fire brigades’ bells. Seafaring ships at dock turned to charred, sunken wrecks. The British Man O’ Wars and their airships arrived quickly, and they’d fought the enemy in the skies above Liverpool—something mythical and terrible straight from the Mahabharata.
Trapped beneath a collapsed wall, Kali had seen it all. The bursts from ether cannons. Airships plunging out of the sky, crashing into the rubble as the men within shouted in terror. She’d watched the world become a fiery hell. She’d seen, too, the remaining British ships destroy or chase off the enemy vessels. Until loss of blood had claimed her consciousness. And her leg.
“It’s still a smoking ruin,” she said. Just as she was. “There’s no Liverpool left in Liverpool. And the navy lost a lot of airships that day.” She stared at the man, his face ashen.
“The sun’s going down,” he growled. “Better get back to wherever it is you’re staying.”
Without another word, the big man turned and strode away. The mists engulfed him, and in an instant, he’d vanished. She couldn’t even hear his footsteps. It was as though he’d never been there.
Kali was many things, but never fanciful. She hadn’t imagined the meeting and conversation with the stranger. He’d left giant footprints in some of the mud amongst the rocks. So he was real. But her exploration of the island had left her with more questions than answers. Who was he? Why had he run away so abruptly? It had to have been his home casting the light—but why did his house hum?
It didn’t matter. None of it mattered. She was here to be alone. He didn’t concern her.
Whoever the man was, though, he’d spoken truly. Daylight didn’t last long this far north. And the mists still hadn’t cleared. The safest thing to do was retrace her steps.
Carefully, she made her way back, taking extra care not to get her prosthetic leg caught in the uneven terrain.
He clearly wanted to be left alone. Just as she did. They could share this island without actually sharing it—couldn’t they?
Yet if she’d come to Eilean Comhachag in search of peace, she knew now she wasn’t going to find it.