Lindsay Buroker's Balanced on a Blade's Edge is a romance novel set in a steampunk fantasy world. The leading man is Colonel Ridge Zirkander whose attitude to authority is baffling for military officer and whose lines are reminiscent of the smuggler Han Solo in Star Wars. Zirkander is an ace pilot in the war against invaders who attack from another continent in airships, who is punished with a non-flying posting to look after a prison mine in remote mountains. Just as he is dispatched there Sardelle Terushan awakes from a 300 year suspended animation inside the prison mines as the last surviving member of her race. Well there is one other survivor as she is bonded to a sword that was a sorcerer member of her race until dying as a teenager and living on in the sword. Sardelle is also a sorcerer and the telepathic link with the sword link is the device Buroker uses for infuriating banter between the straight-laced Sardelle and very immature sword with the (to British ears) improbable name of Jaxi.
Once Zirkander arrives at the prison his Hans Solo impression is gone and the comic turn is left to Jaxi. The now prison commander has a new role as the romantic interest for Sardelle and this is not a slow build romance, but one in which you are let into their feelings for each other from the outset. Sardelle is discovered by miners and passes herself off as a prisoner, despite wearing a skimpy 300 year old dress in the middle of a bitter winter. She then manages to become a key player in military matters and works on her romance despite being a prisoner.
As the novel reaches its climax the action is good, but this remains an improbable romance. Balanced on a Blade's Edge is a disappointing novel that feels a bit too much like setting the scene as a first book in the series.
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