Jul 2 2012 2:30pm

Genre Experiment: H&H Blogger Myretta Robens reads Zoe Archer’s Warrior

Warrior by Zoë Archer

H&H’s bloggers are all avid readers, of course, and each has their favorite genre.

So, of course, we challenged them to read outside of their favorite genre—to read a book, in fact, in a genre they never read in. And we asked another H&H blogger who does read in that genre to choose the best book for the neophyte to read.

We’ll be posting the results of the Genre Experiment as each blogger finishes—or does not finish (DNFs)—their book. Today, Myretta Robens reads Zoë Archer’s Warrior, recommended by Rachel Hyland.

I expected to read a gritty Urban Paranormal with a couple of vampires, maybe a werewolf, definitely demons. Instead, Rachel Hyland, my Paranormal Procurer, kindly took my reading preferences in to consideration and recommended Warrior by Zoë Archer.

Well, Warrior was definitely a departure for me. It was paranormal and it was set mostly in Mongolia, both out of my tidy little English Regency comfort zone. But it was historical, taking place during the reign of Queen Victoria (and, yes, I will call it Victorian as, despite the setting, the main characters are mostly English). So, there was some comfort there.

The paranormal elements in this book surround a battle between two factions to find and either save or use magical artifacts, the ownership of which might change the course of history. That’s a little outside the comfort zone. I have read some Historical Romances with magic. I loved Mary Jo Putney’s Guardian series (starting with A Kiss of Fate) and I’m currently enjoying Liz Carlyle’s series about members of the Fraternitas Aureae Crucis (starting with One Touch of Scandal). In all of these books, the magic is part of the characters. Each has a special gift. In the case of Liz Carlyle’s F.A.C, an uppercase Gift. In Mary Jo Putney’s series, the characters are Mages (Magi?).

Warrior differs from these in that the magic is external to the characters, dwells in objects. It seems that some of the characters are able to make objects that do magical things but there also exist extremely powerful magical objects whose origins are either lost in time or have become the stuff of legend. One of these is the object the hero and heroine of Warrior seek to protect from those bent on misusing it. It turns out that one of the good guys’ earlier failures resulted in Napoleon’s escape from Elba using “Nephthys’s Cloak, which shielded him from the British patrols of the island.” Who knew?

The heroine is the daughter of a member of The Blades of the Rose (the good guys) and seeks to become a member herself. The hero is a former soldier who, driven by boredom, takes it upon himself to deliver a message from a Blade dying in a London alley to Thalia’s father in Mongolia. Then Thalia and Gabriel head out to find and protect a “Source”, the powerful magical artifact.

So, here’s the kind of thing that happens when Blades fight with Heirs (the bad guys):

Huntley saw beasts, demonic combinations of animals with gaping maws and pointed talons, made of water. As they hurtled down the river, the beasts tore at the land with their claws and teeth, destroying and consuming everything in their path. Already frozen from the rain, Huntley was chilled further when he saw that these water creatures were headed straight toward them.

And here’s the kind of thing that happens when Gabriel and Thalia aren’t fighting the bad guys:

“What?” she asked, as Gabriel grinned at her. Stepping in close, so that no more than an inch separated them, he said warmly,  “I love it when you talk flinty.” “Skirmish,” Thalia whispered, husky. “Trounce the bastards.” Under his lowered lids, his pupils dilated, and he slowly liked his lips.

It’s a good tale with interesting characters, a romance you can get behind, and a temporary happily ever after that seems destined to eventually involve more conflict between the Blades of the Rose and the Heirs. No vampires, no werewolves, no demons. Yay!

Thanks, Rachel. I really enjoyed Warrior. So much that I have downloaded Scoundrel. And so much that I was instrumental in inviting Zoë Archer to give the keynote address at my RWA Chapter’s 2013 conference.


Myretta is the co-founder and current manager of The Republic of Pemberley, a pretty big Jane Austen web site. She is also a writer of Historical Romance. You can find her at her website, and on Twitter @Myretta.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Heather Waters
1. HeatherWaters
Very cool that Rachel found a PNR for you that was still historical, and that you enjoyed it so much! I don't think I've read Zoe Archer yet, but this sounds right up my alley...
Kiersten Hallie Krum
2. Kiersten
I love Zoe & adore Scoundrel so much. I constantly saw Rick from The Mummy movie in my head as the hero when I read it, which you can blame on the cover image. I have all the Blades books, but have struggled to get into Warrior, but I perserve b/c I know it will rock b/c, well, it's Zoe Archer and that's what her books do.

Glad you enjoyed stepping out of your reading comfort zone!!
Penny Watson
3. PennyRomance
I'm so glad you liked this book, Myretta. I LOVED's on my Top 20 Romance Reads list. I call this one "adventure romance"'s definitely not your typical paranormal. How about the scene with Genghis Khan and flying backward in time? That scene was astounding.

Can't wait to meet Zoë in person at the NECRWA Spring Conference!
4. LibrarianJessi
You might also try the Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger if you're looking to keep expanding. And if you're feeling really adventurous maybe The Iron Duke. I used to read predominately historical romance and both of these paranormal series combine aspects of what I love about historical but tie in lots of fantasy or steampunk.
Myretta Robens
6. Myretta
Hi @PennyRomance. I know you're a Zoe Archer fan. Thanks for helping us get her for the conference.
Rachel Hyland
7. RachelHyland
Terrific! So glad you enjoyed it, and I love that you have since become an Archer convert. My reasoning when recommending this one was exactly everything you said above: it's historical, as is your preference, but not exactly in your era -- so there was less chance of you being enraged by the inclusion of assorted beasties at Almack's or whatever -- and it doesn't feature any of the usual PNR suspects that could easily make one not au fait with vampires/wereolves/demons etc. immediately dislike it.

That said, my alternative recommendation of Teresa Madeiros's After Midnight, still stands (Regency vampires!), and I second the Gail Carriger recommendation.
8. tadyena
I would like to suggest Jenna Maclaine "Sin Craven" books also if you are looking to expand. The first one starts off in Regency England, but the other books move around. It has witches, vampires, and the occionsial werewolf, but really well writen. I love historical romances and paranormal romances. This writer was the best of both worlds for me.
Myretta Robens
10. Myretta
@RachelHyland I can't thank you enough for heading me in this direction. Warrior was a treat and I'm looking forward to more.
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