The Sin in the Steel // by Ryan Van Loan
Heroes for hire. If you can pay.
Synopsis: Buc and Eld are the first private detectives in a world where pirates roam the seas, mages speak to each other across oceans, mechanical devices change the tide of battle, and earthly wealth is concentrated in the hands of a powerful few. It’s been weeks since ships last returned to the magnificent city of Servenza with bounty from the Shattered Coast. Disaster threatens not just the city’s trading companies but the empire itself. When Buc and Eld are hired to investigate, Buc swiftly discovers that the trade routes have become the domain of a sharp-eyed pirate queen who sinks all who defy her. Now all Buc and Eld have to do is sink the Widowmaker's ship…. Unfortunately for Buc, the gods have other plans. Unfortunately for the gods, so does Buc.
I cannot believe that this is the author's debut novel. I was hooked on this story as soon as it started and am in love with the two main characters, Buc and Eld. The setting has a Pirates of the Caribbean feel to it with a modern twist as well as magic. A big difference though is that men and women seem to be seen as equals, holding high ranking positions in companies and what are seen as male-dominated spaces usually, such as the captain of a ship. This itself is a huge reason why I enjoyed the setup. There are also several times where the men of the story have no issue looking at two of the main female characters as the smartest people in the room. Despite the focus on the strength of the characters (especially the women) though, it was also nice to see those same characters recognize their weaknesses as well. It made them seem even more realistic.The only thing I was not top sure about was Buc's age. Even with a brilliant mind, that does seem very young.
I loved the story itself just as much as the characters and the setting. Being a bookworm myself, I enjoyed the many references to the books that Buc has read and how she uses that knowledge to her advantage during their adventures. Eld, being only a little older than her, seems to have years of experience on her and uses his own military training to their advantage as well, despite the fact that he does not like to talk about it. the story moves along at a steady pace with a lot of action happening throughout the entire book. It was fun to be able to decipher the problems along with Buc, though I do have to admit that I am not nearly as smart as her and was unable to predict several things in this book, which is not something I am used to in these types of stories. I especially enjoyed the part of the story that resulted in the name of this book!
Thank you to the author, publisher, and BookishFirst for providing me with a free copy of this fantastic book. Again, I cannot believe that this is Van Ryan's debut novel! I really hope I will be able to snag an ARC for the next book in this series as well.