Saturday, August 25, 2012

Early Review - Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster

He craves her like no other...
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.

Release Date:  September 4, 2012
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre:  Historical Paranormal Romance, Steampunk
Pages:  448
Purchase at Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

ARC provided by Sourcebooks Casablanca

"A little kitten, all of my own," he purred.  "Far from home."

Kiss of Steel is a gritty story about defeat, survival and love in the 1880s alternate world London that Bec McMaster excels in creating.  There are steampunk elements, yet they do not overwhelm the story line.  This book has just rocketed to the top of my "highly recommended" list and if you are a fan of PNR, I think this debut novel will have you singing the praises of this new author!

McMaster's London is dark, impoverished and ruled by a group of blue blood dukes, considered part of the Echelon, that carry the "craving" virus.  The craving virus makes them strong and quick, able to rule with an iron fist and able to live longer than humans, but also turns them into vampires as the virus progresses.  Being a blue blood means that you must drink blood, but you are in control of yourself. You are able to go out in the daylight, and you certainly do not have fangs unless you've sharpened your teeth on your own.  After many years, the craving virus brings you closer to the Fade, where your hair and skin color bleaches out, you cannot handle any sunlight, and you become a mindless killing machine.

The poorest Londoners live in an area called Whitechapel, which is where main character Honoria lives with her siblings, Lena and Charlie.  Whitechapel is ruled by Blade, a scoundrel and bastard blue blood whom the Echelon prefers to leave alone.  Honoria is twenty-four years old and is trying her best to support her family in very poor circumstances.  Her father dies six months previously, an Echelon Duke, the vile Vickers, has a bounty out on her head, and her little brother Charlie is infected with the craving virus.  One day, Blade requests the presence of Honoria.  He wants to gain her loyalty before Vickers can find her.  Blade also has a terrible history with Vickers and will do anything to thwart him.  From the moment Blade sets eyes on Honoria, he knows that she is not some play thing - that she is important and decides early on that he will do anything to win her affections.

"Just in case I die tomorrow.  I'd 'ate to 'ave me regrets, and I've been wantin' to kiss you since we first met."
Honoria feels the burden of caring for her family.  She works hard, and sacrifices food so that her younger siblings can eat.  Honoria is very intelligent and is blessed with a scientific mind.   She is working diligently on a research project that was her father's life work.  This research will be ground breaking if she can bring it to completion.  She is also brave, stubborn and everything I like in a heroine.  Although she is frightened of all blue bloods, she never shows it.  She tries to ignore her feelings for Blade when she meets him, but it is obvious that she feels an intense attraction towards him

With his leather coat over her shoulders, he wore only a white shirt and black velvet waistcoat.  Despite herself, despite everything, she couldn't help remembering how stroke-able that waistcoat had felt when he had held her in his arms....His gaze met hers, and she felt as though she were falling into a bottomless well, her body straining toward him, her eyes unable to drop from his.
Blade has a reputation of being the "Devil of Whitechapel."  He rules with an iron fist and many fear him and his temper.  However, this is merely his reputation.  Blade turns out to be an honest, honorable, extremely loyal yet tortured man who has lived under circumstances that have been forced upon him.  He takes care of his "family," the men and women that are loyal to him, and treats them as brothers and sisters.  At first, he only wants to possess Honoria because he knows that Vickers wants her.  His feelings quickly become more for her.  

"I've been kind.  And patient," Blade explained, his breath brushing against her heated cheek.  "No more."  He took her mouth, his hips thrusting against hers.  It was a complete domination, a claiming that should have frightened her but didn't.  
There is a hot, raw and sensual attraction that develops between Blade and Honoria.  Honoria fights it for a while, but eventually succumbs to Blade's charms.  There are some very spicy scenes in this book, from a more innocent scene where Blade traces the alphabet with Honoria, to the more primal scenes later in this book.  I had to fan myself more than a few times during these smoking hot scenes!  These two are a perfect match, but must surpass many obstacles and near disasters to be with one another.  

The side characters are wonderfully developed.  Lena and Charlie, Honoria's siblings, have small yet poignant roles in this book.  We will learn much more about Lena in the second book in this series.  Leo Barrons is a member of the Echelon, yet is important to Honoria.  He proves his worth by the end of this book.  The characters I grew to love were Blade's "family."  Esme is Blade's housekeeper and the only woman we see in his inner circle.  She is wise and loyal to Blade, helping him when he doesn't know he needs it.  Tin Man and Rip also prove their mettle as Blade's backup, both willing to die for him.  Will is what I would call his second-in-command.  He is a werewolf that is extraordinarily protective of Blade and would gladly lay his life down if needed.  Will also has a difficult time accepting Honoria and is vocal about it throughout the entire book.

"You'll get yourself killed.  She's trouble.  You ain't thinking clear on this," Will growled.  "You got an itch, you get yourself down to one of the flash houses or find a bit of laced mutton in the street.  There'd be plenty of lasses to give you a tumble."  

I cannot wait to read the second book in this series which will be the "Will and Lena book."  I hope that Blade and Honoria are included in the next book, and I think that the research Honoria is conducting will lead to a larger role for her in the future.  If you are a fan of PNR, then you really need to give this book a go.  It is beautifully written.  The characters have depth and will intrigue you.  There are twists and turns in the plot, although some are a bit predictable.  Throw in all the hot sexiness, and this is a book that will keep you interested for the entire 448 pages.  Bec McMaster is an up and coming romance writer that you don't want to miss!


Jennifer TheBookNympho said...

I've added this to my wishlist. I keep see 4 & 5 star ratings on it so I must give it a try.

Braine TS said...

I skimmed because I'm reading this next week but I paid attention to this: There is a hot, raw and sensual attraction that develops between Blade and Honoria... imagining Paul M. as the hero is enough to make my palms sweat with excitement! woot!

Beth D. said...

Sounds like I am going to have to give it a try. Awesome review!

Beth ^_^

Jamie said...

LOL! Thanks, y'all! This is my favorite book of the summer. It's definitely PNR, and Blade is the newest member of my fictional male harem. I could read about him forever, lol!

kara-karina@Nocturnal Book Reviews said...

One of my faves as well. Absolute scorcher, this book ;))) And the duel! *fans herself from too much excitement* fabulous review!

Kristina said...

Great review! I will have to give this book a try :)

Escapism Fanatic said...

Sounds like a sexy read that I would love. So jealous that you got an ARC.

Liesel K Hill said...

That sounds great! Love the cover as well. Thanks for the review! :D

Alexa said...

I saw this book first at ALA a few months ago and I tried to ask the publicists about it but every time I was just trying to get info on it no one had time to chat with me, sadly.

So I'm really happy to know this one is as great as the cover makes it out to be. I have to read this now because I love the sound of the characters, the setting, and the general plot.

Thanks for the awesome review, I hope book two doesn't let you down.

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