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Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster

Kiss of Steel (2012)

by Bec McMaster

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Kiss of Steel
4.5 Stars

Forced into the squalor of the East End following her father's death, Honoria Todd must swallow her pride and seek aid from the most notorious rogue in the city. Blade, aka The Devil of Whitechapel, rules the slums with a ruthless hand but finds himself unable to turn Honoria away.

Readers expecting a traditional Steampunk novel will be disappointed as these elements are quite minor and contribute very little to the overall world building, plot and characterization. Nevertheless, McMaster has created a detailed alternate world with compelling dystopian features and an original approach to vampirism. Moreover, the setting comprised of the rookeries of Whitechapel and the upper echelons of London society lends darkly sinister and gothic overtones to the story.

The characters are well-developed with intriguing backstories and the romance is intense both physically and emotionally. Blade is fiercely possessive and volatile hero who will stop at nothing to protect those he considers his own. Struggling against the darkness that threatens to consume him, Blade must reconcile with his traumatic past and accept that the person he has become is deserving of love and happiness.

Honoria is an intelligent and admirable heroine willing to sacrifice herself for those she loves. Her pride and stubbornness often lead her astray, but once she learns to love and trust, she does so with her entire heart and soul.

The plot does take a few chapters to get going, which is understandable given that this is the first book in a series, but once the stage is set, the story turns into a captivating page turner.

In sum, a well-written and refreshing take on traditional paranormal tropes, and I am eager to see what happens next for the characters and world McMaster has fashioned. ( )
  Lauren2013 | May 24, 2018 |
steampunk romance ( )
  murphyrules | Feb 22, 2018 |
I don't read romance novels. I can't stand them, and if a book I'm reading has too much romance, I will stop reading it. Nothing about it interests me, and I find them cliche and boring. I was told my attitude was outdated, and only old-timey 1980's bodice-rippers were that bad, and that the genre has moved on since then. But no, this book did not change my mind, though it came highly recommended. It has things I like: steampunk setting, vampires...text in English...? Yeah, I'm reaching here.

Would not have read it were it not for a reading challenge I'm participating in, and will not read another. No fault of the author, this is allllllll my preferences. ( )
  Dez.dono | Aug 8, 2017 |
I was a little confused at first with the vampires but not vampires Blue Bloods, but quickly sorted that out. I liked Blade and his motley crew of humans and not humans, who of course are all more noble and loyal than the actual Nobles. His cockney accent that appears and disappears depending on his mental condition was a little irritating, but overall Blade is the type of damaged, doomed hero that I just love. Honoria is a great character too, taking the weight of the world on her shoulders until it finally falls apart and she has no other choice than to ask for help. Of course she should have asked so much earlier, but then we wouldn't have the emotional story that we have that showcases our characters honorable to a fault, but afraid to trust because they've been hurt in the past, tendencies. Not to say that they don't have their wicked sides, we get to see plenty of that too. ;)

This was an enjoyable Victorian London, vampire romance with an interesting batch of side characters that I'm sure we'll see more of in the rest of the series. I'm looking forward to them! ( )
  shaunesay | Jun 21, 2017 |
When Nowhere Is Safe

Most people avoid the dreaded Whitechapel district. For Honoria Todd, it’s the last safe haven. But at what price?

Blade is known as the master of the rookeries—no one dares cross him. It’s been said he faced down the Echelon’s army single-handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood-craving he’s been quicker, stronger, and almost immortal.

When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She’s so…innocent. He doesn’t see her backbone of steel—or that she could be the very salvation he’s been seeking.
Synopsis via Goodreads

What first drew me to this book was the cover art, seriously is it not a gorgeous cover? I am a sucker for a cool cover! The second was the series title, London Steampunk, how could I not read this book. I was intrigued. I am so glad that I did read this book, soooo not disappointed. It has supernatural beings, paranormal romance, crime, mystery, ooh la la sexy times, and a disgusting villain.

The setting: Set in London England in 1876 in the Whitechapel district. I will start by saying that is more of a paranormal historical fiction or urban fantasy book with steampunk elements woven here and there. Whitechapel district name just conjures up images of dark, gritty, and dangerous to me and set the book up nicely for the world building that the author intended. The world construction itself was okay. I think the intention was that you already would be familiar with ideas of what London would look like in that time setting and then the author just added elements to support the story.

The plot: Woman meets man and wowzza! Kidding….Honoria Todd’s father, was a researcher/scientist on the hunt to discover a cure or vaccine for blue bloods and Honoria served as his assistant. Blue bloods belong to the Echlon, think elite upper class (mostly men), and they are offered infected blood (think virus that slowly turns them into a vampire) during blood rites when they turn fifteen. The upside to this is that:

It puts them into the “it” crowd
It gives them extended life, increased speed and dexterity, makes them hard to kill.
The downside is that over time they will “go to the fade.” What this means is that they will slowly turn into a vampire and not the sexy fae kind but the foul, maggoty, rotted kind. To prevent them from going full-blown vampire and killing all the humans, the blue bloods must be registered and when they start to show signs of going to the fade they are executed by chopping off their heads. Hmm, quite the downside, unfortunately when the “blue blood craze” started no one knew the long-term side affects, hence the research into a cure/vaccine. So why don’t the elite just stop taking the blood rites? These men just can’t seem to turn down near immortality with super man strength.

The Todd’s patron, Lord Vickers, was a sadistic blue blood who’s experiments became so vile that Honoria’s father threw his support in with an opposing political faction. Danger ensued and he disappeared; Honoria and her siblings were forced to flee with only the research diaries in tow. In order to “disappear” they ran to the Whitechapel district (where only the poorest and downtrodden people lived), have been barely eeking out an existence and unable to use any connections they had before due to the bounty on their heads via Lord Vickers. Unbeknownst to Honoria, who has been going by the name of Miss Pryor, the blue-blood rouge (was infected without council approval) Blade, ruler of the rookeries, has taken an interest in her. Not an honorable interest of course, he wishes to find out why his enemy Lord Vickers is so intent on finding her and her family.

After six months of watching Blade has finally sent for Honoria to inform her that as she is in his turf, if she wants to continue being “un-molested” then she needs to come to terms on a payment. She can pay (has no money), become his Thrall (think blood-donor who becomes addicted to the donation process), or trade protection for sex. What’s a girl to do? Honoria being quick thinking offers to teach him how to speak properly, as his cockney accent is atrocious, since her current job is essentially a speech therapist that also teaches manners. He takes her up on this offer but he does have ulterior motives and starts to pursue Honoria.

This is where it gets mighty steamy. Blade becomes almost fixated on Honoria and what began as a ploy turned into a conquest, nice! Honoria on the other hand is terrified of Blade and although she has an undeniable growing attraction for him, she continues to distrust him. When her past catches up with her and conflicts arise in Whitechapel, the deaths start piling up. Honoria and Blade find themselves relying on each other and letting their guards down…and hello sexy times. This is a fast paced, action-filled, paranormal romance that will keep you turning the pages from beginning to end.

What I liked: I found the blue blood/vampirism component extremely interesting. I enjoyed how the author used medical advances from the Victorian time period and applied them in this story. Blade, with his smoldering, burning, animalistic intensity just made the romance building very real and steamy. Honoria, her character was defiant, prideful and intelligent. She did not cower under Blade’s intensity and I liked how she did not run from a confrontation. The secondary characters were fleshed out, likable or vile, but very well done.

What I didn’t like: The world construction left a bit to be desired. I would have liked a bit more background on the Whitechapel district, where the Echelon resided, and although the secondary characters were fleshed out in some cases their background stories were vague, I would have liked more. The “steampunk element,” there was steam-powered machinery, characters with mechanical modifications and metal guards etcetera but it was woven into the background like watercolors. If you are going to call it steampunk, give me steampunk. The cockney accent that the Whitechapel characters “spoke” with, although interesting, was at times difficult to decipher.

Overall, I loved this book! I am pumped to continue the series and have a new author to fawn over. This book is intended for mature audiences, as the sexy times are very steamy. I recommend this book to those readers who like paranormal romances that have strong leads, lots of steam, supernatural sidekicks and villainous elitists. ( )
  TheGenreMinx | Jun 26, 2016 |
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To Byron, for encouraging my dreams and being by very own hero
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If only she'd been born a man... A man in Whitechapel had choices.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"Most people avoid the dreaded Whitecapel district. For Honoria Todd, it's the last safe haven. But at what price? Blade is known as the master of the rookeries, no one dares cross him. It's been said he faced down the Echelon's army single-handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood-craving he's been quicker, stronger, and almost immortal. When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She's so...innocent. He doesn't see her backbone of steel, or that she could be the very salvation he's been seeking"--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

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Average: (3.74)
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3 35
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4.5 6
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