Kiss Of Steel
by Bec McMaster
Published Sept 4th 2012, Sourcebooks Casablanca
Book 1 in the London Steampunk Series
Upon cracking the spine of this novel you are transported to London England in 1876, where in an alternate timeline the world is ruled by an aristocracy of blood drinkers, known as the Echelon; who are similar to a vampiric mafia. Even the monarchy is under the control of these so called “blue bloods” who rule over the human population, forcing them to pay taxes in blood and turning many into their thralls (blood donors or blood slaves).
It is in this setting that we find Honoria Todd, the heroine of the novel. A desperate woman hiding in the rookery to keep safe her dead father’s secrets, and to protect the lives of her sister and ailing brother Charlie. A brother whose long standing illness threatens to take him from her and turn him into the thing she despises most.
It is here that she is brought by local thugs to meet Blade, a rogue blood drinker and renegade, who runs the rookery outside the rules of the Echelon. Blade, wants to know the secrets held by Honoria. A woman whom his long standing enemy Count Vickers will pay a high price to have back. Blade is quickly captivated by this woman’s pride, spunk, and mystery; and even though her stubbornness and wilfulness, challenge him at every turn, he seems unable to resist the spell she unknowingly casts over him.
As the story unfolds, the two develop a classic love hate relationship, as Honoria races time to save her brother, protect her father’s secrets, and to protect herself and her heart from Blade… the unchallenged master of the rookeries. We are taken on a thrilling adventure…where salvation is the goal, and no where is safe…..
Having never read a Steampunk novel prior to this, and certainly never a Steampunk romance, I entered page one not knowing what to expect from the story, characters and genre. I am pleased to report that the choice to overcome my apprehension of reading a “romance” was well worth it.
Blade, a rogue blood drinker, is the renegade ruler of the rookeries. He’s the perfect mix of Alpha type male, strong and dominating, with an underlying tenderness and loyalty to those he loves and protects. His guilt ridden past, makes him the perfect hero of the story. His internal and external struggles captivate you and make you want to see him survive. His character’s uncouth, swashbuckler attitude, is the perfect match to Honoria, and his protection of her endears him to the readers heart
Honoria, the heroine, the martyr, the fearful girl, is stubborn and willful throughout the novel. The reader is left with a feeling somewhere between pride for her strength, and frustration to the point of wanting to toss her out of the novel for being so. Her, determination to protect her family, her father, and most of all her heart, seems to be what drives her for most of the novel, however her self discovery of her strength, and the changes to her throughout, make her the best character with the most development.
This book leaves one wondering at the beginning ‘oh another vampire story with a twist?’, the twist being the steam punk elements. Fortunately, McMaster delivers, by not “steampunking” the novel by randomly tossing in elements of the genre, but by letting the elements of the genre create stunning backdrop to the romance and struggles these characters face. Surprisingly, the ‘vampiric’ aspects seem to also become a normal part of the story and you find your focus shifts from it being about vampires to being about these two well written, characters and their journey to find salvation in a world where they don’t safely exist.
Just a quick add note here. I loved the cover artwork and thought it played well to the novel.
My only suggestion to improve your experience of Kiss Of Steel, would be to familiarize oneself with the genre if not a Steampunk fan so that you are able to enjoy and understand from page one.
A brilliant first novel to a series, and my hats off to McMaster for making me a fan of a new genre of books!
I give this book an A: Would definitely read again.
…and I will definitely read the rest of the series!
Bec McMaster is from Victoria Australia, winner of several awards including the unpublished RWAustralia Emerald, the RWNZ Clendon, the Georgia Romance Writers Maggies, the Winter Rose Award, and the Valley Forge Sheila, and writes paranormal and steampunk romance. Kiss of Steel is her first novel in the London Steampunk Series.
More about Bec McMaster can be found on her site: http://www.becmcmaster.com