Wednesday, September 5, 2012

REVIEW: KISS OF STEEL—Steampunk Romance

My scheduled guest, Robin Maxwell, wasn't able to be here this morning, I will be having her later in the month and her latest book  JANE: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan.


Mass Market Paperback448 pages
Published September 4th 2012

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.

Kiss of Steel intrigued me from the first moment I read the story premise. I thought the concept of paranormal steampunk romance (mouthful isn’t it?) interesting and I was curious to see how Bec McMasters handled the mix of genres.

Bec McMasters is creative and handles it very well. It’s a fresh take on the vampire lore, and she stirs a werewolf into the mix as well. I liked her idea of its origins of the vampire and how it spread to England (and she offers a different twist to the French Revolution). It’s different but she makes it plausible especially the difference between one who is a vampire and one who merely one of the elite blue bloods (the aristocrats). There is a line they cross to become the dreaded vampire.

She creates a believable world using an alternative historical timeline set ostensibly in Victorian England. There are plenty of steam-gadgets—hackneys, transport boats/taxis—other nifty inventions that run the households or the existing world. Some of the weapons that were cool as were the cadre of robotic weapon soldiers, and extensive use of robotic prosthetics for humans. 

The story does manage to capture the attitudes of the time with regards to science and research. The Victorians also had a hidden fascination of erotica (not the same as sex or sex scenes) and you see traces of that in the story. McMasters’ world definitely has the dark, somewhat bleak flavor of the old British scientific romances of that time period (think HG Wells), except her heroes aren’t powerless or as hopeless.

The romance between Blade, Master of Whitechapel (crime ridden slum area), and Honoria Todd, master researcher’s daughter (and research assistant), is good. It’s the bright spot in the dreary atmosphere of McMasters’ world of London.

Honoria has a price on her head set by the powerful, somewhat profligate, Duke of Vickers. He wants the research diaries of her father, which may hold the vaccination against the craving disease, and he wants her. She changes her name, flees with her young brother and sister to the slums, to escape him. Honoria is smart, fiercely protective of her siblings, and has no compunction in protecting them via scientific concoctions or actual weapons (I liked her gun). She’ll do whatever it takes to keep them safe even if that means making a deal with Blade. 

I really liked Blade. He’s a good mix of tough and rough and has a caring heart. He’s gathered quite an eclectic group of people (whom I also liked a lot) that are now part of his family. His great enemy is the Duke of Vickers and he has an information network well in place and knows who the three new residents in the rookeries are and that Vickers wants them. Blade initially seeks out Honoria with the idea of using her to lure his archenemy, Duke of Vickers to him. Both Honoria and Blade have trust issues and secrets, but Honoria has lots of secrets and she isn’t one to share them easily even as she becomes romantically involved with Blade. It’s a point of conflict between them and increases the danger of all involved their world. 

Kiss of Steel has a good set of well-drawn, characters. Well-defined sense of motivations in both the good guys and the bad guys and even the monster on the loose elicits some sympathy. There is plenty of tension and suspense with several mysteries to solve in this story and some good kick ass battles.

Overall, it was a good story, which kept me guessing and turning the pages to find out what would happen.