Armored Hearts

Rated 4.10/5 based on 10 reviews
When a crippled young lord rescues a girl falling from a tree, it reveals a secret about himself and his mother's side of the family that could put him at the center of a war with beings he thought only existed in fairy tales. More

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Tracey reviewed on Oct. 17, 2013

Why do I keep doing this to myself? After some of the encounters I’ve had with self-published authors, not to mention the dreck I’ve read for Netgalley and LibraryThing giveaways and because I got it free on Ammie, why do I still do it?

I’m a masochist, and/or optimistic because of the very few real successes I’ve come across, I guess, and a sucker for a premise that sounds promising. (Also the chalice with the palace or the flagon with the dragon.) So I keep going back to the LibraryThing giveaways, and keep putting my name in.

I feel like I’ve said this about a thousand times (well, it’s probably only a few dozen): This could have been so much better. With objective editing, with a firm hand and White’s Elements of Style, this could have been quite good. As it is, it had some nice elements, but, though pretty short, was a terrible slog to finish. (I was sleepless, and perversely persevered. Sorry, looks like it’s going to be that kind of day.)

The story begins with a boy in a wheelchair who discovers that he can fly when he finds himself doing so to save the life of a little girl he’s just met. He can’t walk, but he can fly, and he begins a sort of disabled-Superman existence, wearing armor as he flits around the neighborhood stopping evil-doers. The armor is partly so his Clark Kent persona will not be known, partly to intimidate the truly stupid and cowardly bad guys he chases off, and partly in case anyone takes a shot at him – though this is one of the places I sighed over the book, because the reason knights stopped bothering with armor was that bullets went through it.

Another sigh I sighed over that armor is that he went from finding out he could fly to, within a very short span of time, flying about with an additional 80-odd pounds added to his weight, and had no problem adjusting. Right.

And still another sigh came because he started wearing the armor when he was twelve, and was still wearing it – after considerable growth and muscular development – at twenty. I guess he was sort of swimming in it at twelve; maybe he really strapped himself in.

The biggest armor-related sigh, though, was more of a groan, and it wasn’t so much over his armor as his sword. Or, rather, the sword’s sheath. You see, one day the main character receives a sword in the mail, a claymore. He decides to go out and fly around with it, to play with it. Someone begins shooting arrows at him (and a friend). Once the shooting stops, he decides to go pick up “a few stray arrows”. “Scooping up the arrows, he stashed them in his sheath with his sword.”

A few arrows.

He stashed them in his sheath.

With his sword.

Which is not the sword he usually wears with that armor, but, as I mentioned, a claymore: far larger than the blade he usually wears with the armor. There was no mention of switching out the scabbard. So the bloody sword shouldn’t have fit all by itself. The sword plus “a few… arrows”? I wanted to slap someone.

I don’t even know what to say about the fact that the main character can stand, and can leap, and more than hold his own in a swordfight – but he is confined to a wheelchair because he can’t walk. Eventually some sort of nonsensical wisp of an explanation shows up, but it’s not good enough by a long mark. Of course, once the boy figures out he can fly (there’s no learning curve – he just flies) he starts leaving his wheelchair at the bottom of the staircase and levitates up to his bedroom, and then proceeds to float about getting himself ready for bed and suchlike. Hitherto, a servant had always had to carry him up, help him bathe and dress, and put him to bed. Does anyone – his grandfather, the household full of servants they start out with – notice?


I’m tired of cutting writers slack over grammatical and punctuation errors. There’s no need for them. None. Especially when there are two writers involved, as here. If you can’t tell that this is a bad sentence:

(from the first page) “The maid, Sarah, with her strong Scottish burr, patted him on his shoulder”;

Or this:

“His eyes trained up the landmark tree”

Or that the commas are completely unnecessary in these fragments:

“sparse, blond hair”; “giant, brown eyes”; “the ugly, brown, wooden chair”;

Or that this makes no sense:

“Thompton’s visage stepped back”;

If you’re going to commit unintentional funnies like “the freedom of this new discovery [that he could fly] made his soul take flight”; or having the boy clench his fists and then three paragraphs later clench his jaw;

If you’re going to set your book in 1894 and talk about “personal space” and other 20th-21st century concepts (I’ll allow “ok” in 1894, but I still growled) –

Then I have no desire to read your work, and you should be ashamed of asking me to, much less asking me to pay 2.99 for it on Amazon. (To be clear, I myself was not asked to pay for this; it was a LibraryThing Member Giveaway book, and therefore free to me.) If you can’t be bothered with internal logic and worldbuilding, I can’t muster up too much enthusiasm for your work. As I’ve said a thousand times (or maybe just a few dozen), there are literally millions of other books out there. You have to earn my time and money. If I had paid for this I would be peeved; as it is, I regret the time put into it.

Oh. Oh dear. I was going to end there, but I figured I’d better check my facts and make sure this book was indeed self-published. It’s not. In fact, the publisher has a page titled “Why Shouldn’t I Just Self-Publish?”, which includes this statement: “We provide a team of experienced people who will help you with editing, artwork, promotion, and be there when you have a question. Because of your team, you can concentrate MORE on writing and less on editing, marketing, and all the rest of the work.” Oh my God. I had originally given this two stars – it just lost a star because of that.
(reviewed 32 days after purchase)
Sara McCluskey reviewed on July 31, 2013
(no rating)
After reading Winter Fae, I was dying to read this novel. It did not disappoint, I can tell you that! The writing style seemed a bit different from Winter Fae, but the overall feel of the novel was still there and it worked. Wonderfully. In Armored Hearts we enter into the life of Gareth, a disabled young gentleman unable to walk. However, when he is just a boy, a young girl at risk of hurting herself prompts him to learn that he can fly. Since that day he has made use of his powers to protect the town in which he resides. Nevertheless, Gareth is still bitter due to his disability and shuns most people, accept for his young aunt, Tabitha. It isn't until Tabitha's new American friend Jessamine appears that there is perhaps someone who can finally see through this armor that Gareth puts up. This is a magical story filled with fairies and action. I loved it so much. It was a beautifully fun read.

Overall a great story. Even when Gareth seemed annoying, I still felt for him. He is a great main character full of depth. Also, I love historical fiction, so that played a role in me loving this novel. I look forward to another book in this story!
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)
Danielle Smiley reviewed on July 31, 2013

This is such a unique and intriguing read! The first half of the book is slower paced, but flows really well. I enjoyed all the characters, even with Gareth's grumpiness. The mystery unfolds and the action ramps up about 65% into the book. From there on in I was completely glued to my Kindle. I love the twists and turns in the plot and am excited to read the next in the series!
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)
candy smith reviewed on July 30, 2013

This an awesome story!I love the way God is subtly worked into the story.The interaction between the charaters is phenomenal.One boy whose only goal in life is to be invisible learns there maybe more to life than just surviving.One girl turns his life upside down and shows him how to live.Things at his home with his grandfather aren't all what they seem to be.Unknown to him,he is destine for a greater purpose.
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)
J. L. Mbewe reviewed on July 9, 2013

It is the story of an orphaned boy who cannot walk, but discovers he can fly, and a whole new world is opened up before his eyes complete with a love he never thought possible and a danger he never saw coming.

Gareth Smyth is a cripple living with his grandfather in a world on the verge of steam powered automatons but many still cling to their traditions, superstitions, and prejudices, thus they look down upon someone like Gareth, so to protect himself, he despises everything but his little aunt who sees past his wheelchair and loves him for who he is. Then he discovers he can fly by saving a girl's life.

The story world felt like it was set in an alternative history flavored with steampunk and fairies who sound a bit Scottish. The slight use of the Scottish dialect was done well enough to flavor the language, but not make it difficult to understand what is being said.

Gareth's sour attitude could be somewhat off putting but I was so intrigued with the story that I had to find out what happens and how he would change. If you've read Winter Fae, a short story about his mom and him when he was two years old, it really helps to set the stage of the possibilities to come. Which, I loved Winter Fae so much and wanted to know more about his mother's story, so I wasn't sure how I would like his story, but I was not disappointed.

But I have two complaints. One, the story felt rushed and in that some things felt too easy to me, but that's coming from someone who loves long, epic stories, ha! The second complaint, it was too short! I can't wait to see how the rest of the story will unfold.

*I received an advanced reader copy for an honest review.
(reviewed 84 days after purchase)
Amber McCallister reviewed on July 5, 2013

Armored Hearts by Melissa Turner Lee & Pauline Creeden is a brilliantly measured and perfectly blended mix of romance, sci-fi, and fantasy. I was swept away into a world across the ocean and dazzled by the amazing story that played out before my eyes. My hunger for an original storyline, imaginative twists and turns, and an edge-of-your-seat page turner was far exceeded in this beautiful masterpiece.

The characters that I discovered within the pages of Armored Hearts are fun and thought-provoking. They truly captured my heart, and I was torn when the story ended. The main characters of this outstanding work of art are Gareth and Jessamine. While we come to know Gareth very well, we get to know Jessamine at the same time that Gareth does. It's so fun to see her through his eyes as she turns his world upside down. If that isn't enough to shake up his world, Gareth discovers a piece of his past that will never leave him the same again.

The wonderful and mesmerizing themes that run through Armored Hearts will leave you contemplating them long after you have finished reading. This is a very uplifting yet challenging story. Your heart will soar above the clouds as battles are won and love is found, and your heart will plummet to its lowest depths when the journey is found to be just beginning and dangers lurk in hidden corners.

If that isn't enough to pique your curiosity to read Armored Hearts, then you don't know what you are missing. Armored Hearts is a creative marvel that will leave you in awe as to the artful and precise brush strokes with which these artists have used to birth this spellbinding tale.

I can't wait until I can join in on the next part of this amazing journey. I recommend this book to all readers who want something that will challenge their thinking, broaden their minds, and touch their hearts.
(reviewed 70 days after purchase)
George McVey reviewed on June 5, 2013

I just finished reading the book Armored Hearts by Pauline Creeden and Melissa Turner Lee.
This book is about Tristan Gareth Smyth a crippled Lord condemned to life in a wheelchair. One day in a desperate attempt to save a young friends life he makes the startling discovery that he can fly. The joy and freedom that discovery brings him and his need to keep it secret lead to great conflict in this tale. As he grows older it becomes plain that his grandfather and guardian is going to force him into a marriage he doesn't want. Tristan fears that marriage will keep him wheelchair bound as he wouldn't be able to hide his secret from a wife.

This is a great steampunk/fantasy combination book. Something I had never even considered possible but the team of Lee and Creeden pull it off fantastically. Bright and shiny steam-powered machines alongside Fae and other fantasy characters is awesome. The story is engaging and thrilling. I found myself rooting for the young man right from the start. I also wanted to see him find true love and figure out why it seemed everyone was out to kill him. The book was everything you could want in a great read. It does however end in a kind of cliffhanger and I am anxiously awaiting the next book in this series. This is a must-read summer book great for sitting by the pool or on the beach. Be forewarned though you may just get so caught up in the tale that you get a bit sunburned. The publisher gave me a copy of this book for my fair and honest opinion. I was not required to post a positive review that is all my own thoughts.
(reviewed 40 days after purchase)
E.M. MacCallum reviewed on May 28, 2013

It was the pieces of history and English folklore that brought this story to life for me. The Victorian Era was researched to fit the tale and the legends were without gimmicks or complicated backgrounds, something I found refreshing. The character development was well done and I found myself really liking Gareth and his aunt.

There isn't nearly as much steampunk as I'd hoped and I'd wondered if it would have been better off as a fantasy/romance only.

It's not easy to co-write and I think the authors did a great job blending their voices. “Armored Hearts” was an easy, enjoyable read that allowed for romance, a little mystery and an entertaining mix of legend and history.
(reviewed 37 days after purchase)
Mooky J reviewed on May 14, 2013

'Armored Hearts' is the perfect book for me. I love fairies and steampunk. Pauline and Melissa merged these two concepts so awesomely that I just fell in love. Besides that, it has some mystery and action, and everything is set in a historical era, which was described very accurate for the time.

I think the characters are well developed and the storyline was seamless. The book ends giving room for a sequel, but does not leave anything unresolved or plot holes.

The only thing I didn't like is the fact that the story felt a little bit rushed because the book is short! I think they could've stretched it more without losing the audience. Also, if any of the characters had died at any point, I wouldn't have been too torn by it because I wanted to love them more than I did. Yes, we can tell that Gareth has an emotional wall; we can see that Jessamine is independent and determined, Tabitha is sweet yet very intelligent and focused, but I wanted more depth. The villains are dealt with too easily (it reminded me of 'The Difference Between Night and Day'). I need more sense of urgency to be stretched out longer. I hope the authors are not scared of adding an extra 100 pages, lol.

I loved the "Bonnet Club" and I hope they get deeper into it in another book *hint, hint*

All in all, it's a great story full of romance, action, fantasy and sci-fi. What else can you ask for?
(reviewed 27 days after purchase)
Emerald Barnes reviewed on May 13, 2013

This book follows a young man, Gareth Smyth. He's a cripple, confined to a wheel chair, and he's got himself a surly attitude about it as well.

He won't let anyone close to him, only his young aunt, Tabitha. But, there is one girl who tries to push her way into his life - Jessamine.

The story involves Gareth on a discovery of who is and who he eventually wants to be. With the help of Jessamine and his servants, he finally discovers who he is, whether he likes it or not.

Okay, let say that this novel is a sweet, fun read. Gareth annoyed me so much at times, but by the end, he began redeeming himself. And honestly, because of Gareth, I wanted to just put the book down, but I stuck with it. And, I'm glad I did, because the last half of the book had me hooked!

I really liked, too, that this book is so much more than just Gareth discovering who he is. This is about equal rights for women, steam punk goodness, and well, fun - for the readers at least.

Now that Gareth has finally redeemed himself in my eyes, I'm ready to see what the future holds for all the characters.

**I received an ARC for a fair, honest review.**
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
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