Bec McMaster is another new author I’ve read this year. Thus, this review is listed at the New Author Challenge 2013 hosted by the Literary Escapism blog.
Kiss of Steel
by Bec McMaster
London Steampunk Series, Book One
Genre: Steampunk Romance
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca, September 2012
Synopsis: Honoria Todd has no choice. Only in the dreaded Whitechapel district can she escape the long reach of the Duke of Vickers. But seeking refuge there will put her straight into the hands of Blade, legendary master of the rookeries. No one would dare cross him, but what price would he demand to keep her safe?
Ever since Vickers infected him with the craving, Blade has been quicker, stronger, almost immortal—and terrified of losing control of the monster within. Honoria could be his perfect revenge against the duke…or the salvation he never dared to dream of.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit even though it’s more paranormal romance than urban fantasy. Generally, I don’t like the paranormal romance genre, because I think the emphasis is usually more on the romance than creating a believable world for the characters. In this case I thought the author did a good job creating the world and creating likeable main characters. Honoria Todd was a strong character trying to save her family. Blade was the scary monster who turns out to be very human. He was my favorite character in the book. He’s larger than life and everyone is afraid of him, but he protects what’s his.
When Honoria first meets Blade she is overwhelmed and fearful, but knows she has to hide her emotions:
“Living among the Echelon for ten years had taught her the benefit of managing her emotions. One hint of fear and they would turn their pale eyes on her like sharks smelling blood. This man might rule the rookeries with an iron fist, but she had faced down the prince consort himself, with his colorless, red-rimmed eyes and too-pink lips. Blade was dangerous, but she couldn’t afford to let him see how much he frightened her. That wasn’t how the game was played. And the cursed blue bloods liked their games so very much…”
Blade isn’t impressed though:
“You’ve been six months in me turf and not paid a visit,” he said. “That ain’t polite, dove. It ain’t wise for a woman to be without protection. You been lucky so far. People been wonderin’ if you and I ’ad struck a deal. Now they’re wonderin’ if I would care if you went missin’.” He flicked the cheroot over a small tray and the ashes crumbled. “Consider this a polite warnin’ and an offer. You won’t be unmolested for long.”
The pistol was a heavy, reassuring weight in her skirt pockets. “Then they shall receive a little surprise if they do. Only a fool walks these streets without protection.”
“That little barker in your pocket and the pig-sticker in your boot?” He laughed, low and husky. “Won’t do you much good when your throat is slit.”
There was a blur of movement and something grabbed her from behind. Honoria gasped, the knife a sharp warning against her throat as Blade drew her back against his hard body. Her chin tipped up and she swallowed hard, the edge of the knife hovering directly over her carotid artery. His arm was a steel band about her waist, hugging her close.
His lips brushed her ear. “Still not impressed,” he whispered.
The book is set in a steampunk Victorian-style London and I enjoyed the setting a lot. The author does a good job of evoking the scene:
“…that familiar hollow feeling pooled in her stomach as she paused in front of the derelict building. The fog eddied away from the roughened brick walls as though something kept it out. A pair of crossed daggers was carved into the wooden sign that hung over the door, the sign that all the Reapers gang wore, proclaiming which gang they ran with.”
The next book in this series comes out in May. Heart of Iron is set in the same world, but looks like it has different main characters. I usually like books in a series to continue with the same characters, but I will definitely try the next book!