Kiss of Steel

Bec McMaster
Kiss of Steel
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Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date
September 2012
Steampunk Romance, Vamps & Shifters Romance

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.

Book Review by Lisa Jo
Sep 20, 2012   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
271 people found the following review helpful
Looking for an epic steampunk romance? Then be sure to check out Bec McMaster's debut KISS OF STEEL...a stellar steampunk romance that will seduce and entertain readers from beginning to end.

Honoria Todd has done everything to prevent falling into the dreaded hands of the immortal Blade, legendary master of the rookeries in the dangerous district of Whitechapel. Becoming fascinated with the spirited young woman and wishing to know her darkest secrets, Blade does everything to force her hand. Eventually Honoria is forced to ask for his protection, but it comes with a price, one that she isn't certain she can pay. Blade will do anything to keep Honoria close in order to ensure she is safe from their mutual enemy, the Duke of Vickers. The monster within Blade is slowly climbing to the surface as the overwhelming cravings threaten to take hold, both for blood and revenge. Just as he fears it might be too late, Honoria could be the salvation he's been waiting for.

There are plenty of words you could use to describe Bec McMaster's debut KISS OF STEEL. Yet somewhere along the line you would have to include fabulous, stunning, amazing and stellar. This breathtaking novel opens the reader's eyes to a Victorian London people can only dream about. Steampunk has been the ever-increasing phenomenon in romance, yet Ms McMaster gives you a reason to love it relentlessly.

Bec McMaster's efforts at describing such a new world would have been enough, yet she was still able to throw absolutely amazing characters into the mix. Honoria Todd was an intelligent, resourceful young lady doing her best to survive in a cruel world. You slowly see the desperation of her situation seep in as the story progresses, but it's the way she clings to an undying hope of a better future that makes you admire her character. At one point, she feels like she is selling her soul to the devil himself, but she still carries on trying to make it through another day. She never gives up and protects those she loves at all costs.

The one crick in her armor seems to be the stoic yet dangerous immortal intimidating foe and an all-consuming lover. You have to love a hero so close to the edge of losing control, yet willing to fight to keep it together for the stunning heroine in his life. If first impressions were anything to go by, Blade would be the last person anyone could trust. Yet as his character develops, you begin to fall in love with him just as easily as Honoria. Like Honoria, he is a protector, ensuring the safety of his people at all costs but that doesn't mean he is completely made of steel. He has vulnerabilities too, and that makes him that much more appealing as you discover the strength he uses to overcome anything in his path.

One aspect, out of many, that I loved about KISS OF STEEL was the development of the romance. Ms McMaster starts out this story establishing strong roots to develop her world and characters. The romance storyline is always there, and slowly but surely the author brings it to the front lines, stoking the fire between the two protagonists and flirting with the sexual tension. Eventually, of course, their sensual romance unfolds in greater detail, but I felt it was beautifully done. This novels perfectly blends in the romance so that it doesn't overwhelm the adventure, yet still delivers an emotional and scorching love story.

Bec McMaster has a prose that is infectious and addictive. You walk into her world and it instantly comes alive. The gritty streets, the anger and despair...all of it described in such vivid detail you feel as though you are really there. She builds a world of endless mystery and intriguing complexities that keep your mind whirling throughout. The backstory is a little overwhelming at the beginning, yet all the detail only helps to create a unique world in which the characters live. You quickly fall into this world, like Alice through the rabbit hole, and are guaranteed to love every minute of the adventure. The hours simply fly by with this book in your hands and you can't stop the thrills if you wanted to because you won't be able to put it down.

I simply loved KISS OF STEEL! This novel is a must read for fans of steampunk, paranormal, historicals and of course a good romance. It is one of the best steampunk novels I have read and certainly a novel to treasure. Ms McMaster has certainly hit one out of the park with her stunning debut and one can only hope this is just a small sign of what's to come. I eagerly anticipate the next novel in this series and hope that adventure is just as wild as KISS OF STEEL!
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Book Review by Ashia (reviewer)
Aug 01, 2014   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
227 people found the following review helpful
KISS OF STEEL is an awesome first in the London Steampunk series.

Honoria Todd hides with her sister and brother in the rookeries, determined to keep a low profile, so that she doesn't attract the attention of Vickers, the man who wanted the results of her father's life work and more. It seemed her father had discovered some cure for the blue bloods, of which Vickers is one. At the same time, she's living on the edge of poverty, and when she's called in by Blade, the man who "protects" the rookeries, and who is a blue blood himself, she expects the worse...but not the intense attraction between them.

Bec McMaster is a superb storyteller. From the first page, she drew me into her world and didn't let go until the last page. Actually, I myself didn't want to leave yet, and I'm soooo glad there are 3 to 4 more books already available in the series. You can bet I'm going to dive into them.

Honoria is a likeable and admirable woman. She likes to be in control and when her feelings for Blade threaten to spiral and leave her lurching, she didn't like it a lot. Hence, plenty of denial. But she's brave and she protects the people she cares about at all costs.

Blade is an honorable hero, and he tries to do his best by his people by protecting them from the evil in their world. Here, the author plays with the concept of good vs evil, and about not judging the book by its cover. I like seeing Blade being so affected by Honoria, his jealousy when he thought she has another lover.

The worldbuilding is fascinating, of a time in historical London with steampunk elements. The author creates the Echelon, a council of seven dukes (blue bloods) to decide on court matters, and Queen Alexandra (human) and her prince consort (a blue blood). I thought the queen and her prince may be distant figures, but maybe we'll see them in a book of their own in the future. Some things in the world are a bit confusing, as a beginning reader in this series, like who are the Nighthawks, the Coldrush Guards and what is the Ivory Tower? Explanations are sparse, perhaps so as not to affect the story, but maybe a little bit more background would've helped.

The story's pace is just right, with equal parts suspense, romance and mystery, and I certainly never saw the twists and turns coming! Great story, not to be missed!
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Book Review by BJ (reviewer)
Jul 06, 2016   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
164 people found the following review helpful
4.5 "An Unlikely Hero in a New Vampire World" Stars for the story and 4 Stars for the narration!

If you enjoy a variety of different romance sub-genres, and are looking for something new, KISS OF STEEL and the London Steampunk series may just be the answer. 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.

Of course, the London Steampunk genre's primary unifying characteristic is that the world 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. However, for Steampunk afficionados, I will note that in KISS OF STEEL, I found the use of steam powered steel robots to be more of a background element than a central focal point. Instead, Ms. McMaster's writing is much more focused on the individual characteristics and personalities of these dynamic characters in this brave new world.

Also, please note that this series, like many paranormal based series, is meant to be read in order, as the underlying world continues to evolve over each sequential read. That said, the primary political and suspense filled battle and the romance between the main hero and his heroine is satisfyingly resolved, so you are not left with a cliffhanger feeling--just a desire to move on to the next chapter in this alluring series.

Honoria Todd is desperately trying to keep her younger siblings in hiding. Having lived among the Echelon (the rich and powerful, upper class, who rule this world), something happened in her past and she and her siblings are in hiding from a rich and powerful "Blue Blood." They have sought their anonymity in the dreaded Whitechapel district (the slums of this world were the poor and powerless live). Scraping every penny to get by, Honoria is finally at her at last straw, when she is summoned to the "master of the rookeries," Blade, the monstrous rogue, blood-craving leader of the Whitechapel district.

"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, Blade was infected notwithstanding his seemingly less than royal blood lines. The downside of the virus is that, at its extreme, it can turn a Blue Blood or rogue, like Blade, into a vampire. Vampires are not good beings in the London Steampunk world. Instead, vampires lose all rationality and only know 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.

Given his ruthless reputation Honoria is scared to meet Blade, and yet she knows that she can and must do anything to survive--as well as help her little brother who is showing signs of the blood craving virus. So Honoria does the "honorable" thing and delivers herself to Blade's doorstep knowing that he will likely use her for her blood, and may very well die in the process.

Blade, however, is surprised at the unique effect that Honoria has on him. He seems to have no control when it comes to her. And yet, he can't get enough of her. So unusual is this connection that at first they strike a unique bargain, but as each person's situation becomes more dire, they will each need to decide whether Blade is the "monster" with teetering control that everyone claims he is or whether salvation lies in love.

For the most part, I found Alison Larkin's narration to be enjoyable. As you can imagine, given the London world, many of the characters have British accents, which Ms. Larkin performs well. Ms. Larkin also delivers the story with good pacing and her tone matches the mood of the scenes well.

The one area that I will note will either work for you or not is Blade's parts. In that regard, Blade has a somewhat unusual and very distinctive sound to him (somewhat akin, but not in its sound, more just in its uniqueness, to Tavia Gilbert's rendition of Bones, from the Night Huntress Series by Jeaniene Frost). Adding further difficulty to this role is Ms. McMaster's writing in an accent that varies (depending on his grasp of control on his humanity) from his more typical cockney accent to at other times a more upper class sounding accent. All of these factors render Blade's role a very tough one to nail and definitely a very different sounding hero which may not be to everyone's taste. Therefore, while I enjoyed the audio, I highly suggest that you sound sample this audiobook before determining what format to enjoy the story in.

All in all, KISS OF STEEL was a fantastic start to a very promising series, and I can't wait to dig in to book 2, Heart of Iron.
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