Of Silk and Steam

Bec McMaster
Of Silk and Steam
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Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date
March 2015
Book 5 of London Steampunk
Steampunk Romance

Enemies. Allies. Lovers.

When her beloved father was assassinated, Lady Aramina swore revenge. The man responsible is well beyond her grasp, but his dangerously seductive heir, Leo Barrons, is fair game. When Mina obtains evidence proving that Leo is illegitimate, she has the means to destroy both the killer and his son, a man who troubles her heart and tempts her body.

A woman of mystery, Mina's long driven Leo crazy with glimpses of a fiery passion that lurks beneath her icy veneer. He knows she's hiding something, and he's determined to unravel her layer by silken layer. He just doesn't expect the beautiful liar to be the key to overthrowing the corrupt prince consort… or to saving his own carefully walled-off heart.

Book Review by BJ (reviewer)
Apr 23, 2015   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
145 people found the following review helpful
5 "Allies in Love and War" Stars! Steampunk Romance: who knew? What started out as a mistaken click, may very well have opened a whole new romance world for me! I absolutely loved OF SILK AND STEAM. Something of a hybrid between a historical, paranormal and a science-fiction romance, Steampunk Romance combines the best of many of the romance sub-genres that I enjoy, with the added benefit of bestowing it all in one convenient package. Intrigue, suspense, romance, creativity, unpredictable twists and turns, and lots of "steamy" passion! Of course the London Steampunk world also contains steam-powered machinery, in this case somewhat akin to fighting robots, and is set in an alternate version of the 19th Century British Victorian era, which are the signature traits of Steampunk Romance. The combination of all these fantastic factors turned OF SILK AND STEAM into a magical, mesmerizing read for me. I just couldn't get enough of this book; I devoured it in just a couple of sittings.

First off, I think it is worth noting that this series is meant to be read in order, as the underlying world continues to evolve over each sequential read. That said, as Ms. McMaster does a fantastic job of retelling the prior history, I had no trouble following the plot or understanding the players and the underlying political conflict, notwithstanding that I have not read any of the prior books. Moreover, the romance is completely contained within this book, as each book primarily focuses on a different couple. However, reading the series out of order, means that there are spoilers from the prior books that have already been revealed should you later choose to go back and read the prior books. That notwithstanding, my interest has now been piqued and I plan to go back, starting with Book 1, Kiss of Steal, to experience Blade's and Honoria's story.

Lady Aramina is the only female "Blue Blood". Blue Bloods have superhuman strength and healing abilities and are very difficult to kill. Only sons of royal Blue Bloods are typically approved by the Council of Dukes to be infected with the "craving virus" which turns a human into a Blue Blood. However, having taken matters into his own hands at his deathbed, Lady Aramina's father ensured that Lady Aramina had a fighting chance of becoming his heir by infecting her with the virus. The downside of the virus is that, at its extreme, it can turn a Blue Blood into a vampire, who loses all rationality and only knows an insane craving for blood. Blue Bloods who reach this level are usually exterminated, so maintaining an optimal level of the craving virus without letting it overtake you is of paramount importance in this world.

Notwithstanding that Lady Aramina does ultimately win a duel to assume her father's position on the coveted Council of Dukes which rule London, and that she is the only woman to do so, Lady Aramina is still not even close to achieving her life goals. Instead, she is determined to avenge her father's murder. Unfortunately for her, the man who she suspects killed her father is another Duke who holds a seat on the Council of Dukes, and therefore is practically untouchable. His son, Leo Barrons, however, who happens to be his current proxy on the Council due to the Duke's mysterious illness, is not, particularly given the secret that the Duchess has just discovered which could completely ruin Leo.

To her great surprise, however, the closer Mina gets to Leo, the more she seems to genuinely like him, and the more closely aligned their political aspirations seem to be, a feeling which they mutually share. Soon passions roar, and nearly at the same time, the political situation on the Council likewise reaches a pinnacle. It's time to pick sides in love and war. Could Leo possibly be the ally that will help Mina achieve her political goals, even if she has to give up her dreams to avenge her father's murder in the process? Moreover, being in the unique position, given the time period, of not needing a man to provide for, or protect, her, will Mina ever willingly trust any man enough to commit to any sort of contract (whether thrall--more akin to a mistress--or consort--like a marriage) that would be necessary for any form of a long-term relationship?

The intricate nature of the plot absolutely blew me away! So well crafted, you could easily envision such a situation, full of the class struggles between the poor and rich and their political sympathizers easily actually having taken place. I equally adored the romance aspects of this novel. I love it when a feisty, smart and headstrong heroine finds her match, who when working together, are capable of limitless possibilities. Delivering on all fronts, OF SILK AND STEAM is a new top favorite. I can't wait to read more of the amazing London Steampunk series!
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Book Review by Ashia (reviewer)
May 31, 2015   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
130 people found the following review helpful
Yet another winner for Bec McMaster! She continues to deliver and more in this exciting culmination to the London Steampunk series!

Lady Aramina, Duchess of House Casavian, swore revenge on the man who killed her father. And this man is the Duke of Caine, and if she could hurt him through his son Leo Barrons, so much the better. Yet, she couldn't deny the attraction between them, and when incriminating evidence against Leo fell into her hands, would she use them to finally have her vengeance?

Mina is a wonderful heroine; she's delightfully strong and endearingly baffled at the effect Leo has on her. Having waited for Leo's story for so long, I'm glad to see him have a perfect match in Mina. And if Leo catches your imagination before, you'll find yourself totally destroyed in this book. He's the epitome of every young girl's dream; while exuding strength and raw sensuality, he is also romantic, and best of all, he is kind, in the way he always assures Mina that he has never meant her any harm. And his loyalty to his family, the way he cares for them and willingness to defend them to the death. Definitely a swoon-worthy hero!

Ms. McMaster truly knows the way to a reader's heart! Not only did she give previous characters cameo roles, but for those close to Leo Barrons---like Blade and Honoria--we see how their lives and Leo's intertwine, especially the time when Leo sought refuge in the rookeries. They're almost like secondary characters with meaty roles here (instead of just prancing across the page in a scene or two), and I love it! I wish more authors would do that.

From the first page, Ms. McMaster drew us in to the heart-pounding action and never-ending excitement of Leo and Mina's story. There was a balanced mix of romance and intrigue, fast-paced action and high sexual tension. Her world is rich with details, and she drew on common myths, gave them a twist and made them her own.

All the events in the previous books of the series are building toward this book. Clues and hints and mysteries that were dropped in the previous books are all tied up neatly here. Series fans definitely shouldn't miss this! New readers can start here, as enough backstory is given, but really, why miss Ms. McMaster's fabulous writing and stories? Escape into her world with book 1, Kiss of Steel. I was sorry to see this end, and I wish--hope!--there would be more stories in the London Steampunk world!
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