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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Nice combination of Native American legends, romance and the Wild West

Alchemy of Desire by Crista McHugh

After winning the Civil War against the Confederate Wielders, the Union Machinists have outlawed magic to usher in a new age of steam-powered technology. Diah, an alchemist and the only non-wielder in his family, owes his brother for saving his life in the war; so when Cager is blackmailed into procuring the magical hide of the White Buffalo, Diah accompanies him to the Dakota territory.

Their guide is Oni, a half-Lakota woman with plenty of secrets to hide. She's a magic wielder with an illegal wand concealed in her knife—and she's a coyote shifter. To her people, killing the White Buffalo is not only sacrilege, it's dangerous. Oni has no intention of helping them actually achieve their mission—until she falls in love with Diah…


This story was an interesting mix of Native American legends, romance and the Wild West. McHugh puts a clever twist on the Civil War, Pitting Southern Wielders of old-fashioned magic against the new generation of Machinists from the North. Although Alchemy of Desire has been labeled as a Steampunk novel, there weren’t a lot of Steampunk elements. You won’t find giant walkers and zeppelins dominating this novel. Instead, the story focuses on the romance between two people from different backgrounds who find love in a physically and racially hostile environment.

In Alchemy of Desire we meet a wonderful cast of characters. Jebediah (Diah), love this name, comes from a family of magic wielders, but didn’t inherit the ability. Unable to follow in his family's footsteps, he became an alchemist. I liked his character, he is sexy, loyal, responsible and always behaved like a gentleman. His brother Micajah (Cager), love this name too, is the opposite; he is cocky, reckless and has little respect for anyone except his brother. However, we do get a peek into why Cager behaves the way he does, and I see a book in his future expanding on his character. Oni, is a Lakota/white half-breed and is shunned by both sides of her family because of her mixed breeding. Her need to survive on her own has made her tough as nails and, understandably, mistrustful of everyone.

In the beginning of this novel there is some world building as we meet the characters, but as soon as Oni and Diah meet the story turns into the typical paranormal romance. They both have secret agendas and conflicting loyalties, but they fall in love and have lots of great sex. However, they actually don’t have sex till late in the book because of Diah’s sense of honor. It is actually kind of sweet to see chivalry isn't dead. This is my favorite aspect of the book.

There is nothing wrong with this story. It is well-written and the premise of machinists vs. magic wielders was cool, but the romance was the focus of this story, not the world building. I didn’t connect to the characters enough to become emotionally invested, but the sex scenes were pretty hot ;). I suggest reading various reviews on the book to decide if it is for you.

3 Sheep!

SS and special thanks to BAK for editing this, and making me look smart

Check out her website Crista McHugh

1 comment:

  1. hmm good review, I do like romance though so this may be a good one for me. Wild West cowboys? Sold. :)