THE AVON AFFAIR REVIEW & INTERVIEW by Ginny: Nights of Steel (Ether Chronicles) by Nico Rosso (@nico_rosso , @avonbooks , @GinnyLurcock)

Avon Affair


Return to The Ether Chronicles, where the skies above the American West are about to get wilder than ever…

Bounty hunter Anna Blue always finds her fugitive. But her latest mission is filled with mystery: a high price for an eccentric inventor. And her biggest rival, Jack Hawkins—a startlingly handsome, entirely unsettling man whose abilities match her own—is hunting the same bounty. Neither will back down.

When a rogue Man O’ War flies his airship into the California skies, guns blazing, Anna and Jack are forced to team up or die. But it isn’t the danger that has them ready to flare like gunpowder. They’ve circled each other for years as competitors only. Fighters and outsiders, they never thought they’d find a kindred soul. As hot passion and raw need draw them together, can they survive this mission long enough to track the most elusive fugitives…their hearts?

nights of steel

So funny story, this one time I thought I reviewed Nights of Steel and actually never did.  Because I am fucking awesome.  Anyways, please enjoy my much delayed review of the fantabulous “Nights of Steel” by the equally fantabulous Nico Rosso.

I’ve wanted to pick up “Skies of Fire” for a long time.  Steampunk and the old west are two of my things, plus Zoe Archer comes highly recommended.   At the same time, Nico Rosso is a joy to read.  Imagine my embarrassment when I instantly said yes to “Nights of Steel” only to learn that Nico and Zoe are married and taking turns writing books in the series.

I’d like to say it was some kind of embarrassment for saying yes to a book based on its author and/or title and/or cover- and the fact that I love review copies- but it wasn’t.  It was the dorkiest dance you’ve ever seen.  I actually fell over in the middle of it before jumping to my feet shouting “I’m okay!!”

But this isn’t about my lack of grace; this is about “Nights of Steel.”

OHMYFUCKINGGAWD!  This book was so good.  A novella (which you know I love) involving steampunk limbs, the old west, bounty hunters, airships and hover bikes.  FERSPLETERCH!  (For the record, that’s the sound your brain makes when it implodes from happy.)

Honestly, I’m not quite sure what to say beyond that…   Does the romance progress in a fast “Call Me Maybe” kind of way?  Yes.  But you know what?  I don’t care.  I actually kind of like rapid fire romances.  And a rapid fire romance between two people who live their lives walking the fine line of the law makes sense.  More specifically, Jack and Anna make sense.

They’re likeable characters in a loveable world with a quick moving plot.

Why are you still reading this review when you could be reading the book?




4.5 Stars.  Seriously.  Go read it.

A free copy of this book was provided for a fair and unbiased review.



GINNY LURCOCK FROM PURE TEXTUALITY [GINNY]:  First and foremost, just let me say that the first ARC I ever read was “The Last Night” and it was FANTASTIC.  Seriously, romance and super zombies.  What more could a girl ask for?

Okay, now that I got that out of my system…

Steampunk in the Wild West is one of my favorite genres (and it is a genre, because I said so).  How did you know?  Seriously though… What made the two of you choose such a unique setting for a book?

NICO ROSSO [NICO]:  First off, thanks for inviting me, Ginny.  And thanks for the shout out for “The Last Night.”  Writing that one almost had me wishing for the apocalypse so I could ride around the wasteland on a motorcycle.


But to answer your question: Zoë and I had been plotting her first Ether Chronicle story and building the concept of the Man O’ Wars predominantly in Europe and nearby.  It got us to thinking that there was a whole other world of stories to be told.  I’ve always been a big fan of Westerns (from the white hat good guys of the serials to the moral ambiguity of the Spaghetti Westerns), and the steampunk elements made perfect sense to drive the stakes of those kinds of tales even higher.


GINNY:  How is it taking turns writing novellas with your wife?  Do you ever argue about how you want the series to go?

NICO:  It’s a ton of fun working on these stories with Zoë.  We often think that the other people at diners and restaurants must think we’re some kind of crazy.  They’d only catch snippets of conversations like, “…then he uses the captain’s knife to pin his hand to the deck…” or  “…after she drains the ether tanks, the ship falls while they’re kissing…”  (we haven’t used either of these yet, but keep an eye out)

Because our individual stories are set so far apart, with only some character crossover, there isn’t a lot of arguing about where things are headed.  And when we do disagree, it’s all very civil and level headed as we weigh each other’s wants.  The plastic weapons don’t come out until it’s time to write an action scene.


GINNY:  Speaking of the books being novellas, do you find it’s easier or harder to write a well rounded story in 100 pages?

NICO:  It’s a challenge I like.  So far in writing romance, I haven’t written a full length novel and I’m used to the constraints in this shortened form.  Because there’s a lot of action in my stories, the novella is wound like clock and usually speeds forward without a lot of side stories.  I think about writing longer stories and believe the challenge now would be loosening up the plot enough to air out the action and letting the characters breathe a bit.


GINNY:  (I honestly never thought I would have to ask a dude this question) I’ve noticed a lot of people saying that they only read authors of the female persuasion.  Do you ever feel like you gender holds you back in your chosen genre?

NICO:  If it does hold me back, it’s somewhere behind the scenes.  No reader or editor has ever told me directly they didn’t buy my book because I’m a male author.  If that’s the case, I’ll never know about it.  So far, everyone I’ve met has been either very positive about having guys write romance, or has treated me like just another author (which is great, too).


GINNY:  And speaking of your chosen genre, what are your thoughts on people who complain that romantic angles just muck up “perfectly good” sci-fi/fantasy/UF/etc stories?

NICO:  That point of view is very narrow.  It’s hard to find a compelling story that doesn’t have some elements of romance in it.  Whether something is categorized as Romance just depends on how foregrounded the emotional element is.  Investing a character’s heart in the story is a good way of increasing the stakes and making things relevant to the readers.  If the characters care, then we care.

Think of one of literature’s greatest heroes, Odysseus.  His is an early adventure narrative, filled with action and peril, on a ship full of men.  But at the core is a romance.  All the while, he is trying to get home to his wife.


GINNY:  Bonus question:  You’re stranded on a desert island.  Would you rather your only companion be a talking monkey with a pack a day smoking habit (there is a never ending supply of cigarettes, it’s a magical island I guess) or a non-talking dragon.  Who do you pick?

NICO:  Definitely non-talking dragon.  Ask Zoë and she’ll tell you I don’t have any problem talking/mumbling to myself (especially while writing), so one-sided conversations wouldn’t be much of an issue.  And words aren’t always necessary, anyway.  I get a lot of my life’s inspiration from observing.  There’s a lot we can learn, and say, with just our eyes.


GINNY:  Thanks so much for taking to time to answer my questions.  Now if you’ll excuse me I must go and read all your and Zoe’s books in a totally non-obsessive fashion.

Be sure to check in with these sites as some of my fellow Avon Addicts are also participating in The Avon Affair:

A Tasty Read
Rusticating In The Tropics
Toot’s Book Reviews
S.O.S. Aloha
The Book Queen’s Personal Book Palace
Romancing The Readers
The Book Cellar
Blithely Bookish
The Romance Reviews
Tempting Reads


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