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.
**A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
I have no idea why I waited so long to read this book. It’s really a travesty. Had I read it sooner, it would have given me more time to wax poetic about it; to pimp it out to friends; to get up on my soapbox of a blog and yell to the world, “Read this book!” Yes, I liked KISS OF STEEL. No, that’s too weak. I loved KISS OF STEEL. Adored it. Thought about it days after I read the last page. Finished it at 2am in the morning and immediately got up to impulsively send the author, Bec McMaster, a tweet telling her how much I loved it. I was in the mood for a good PNR – one where the world, the romance and the characters wouldn’t let me down. KISS OF STEEL met those needs and exceeded my expectations.
Where to begin? Let’s start with the world. While there are definite steampunk elements, they’re more backdrop than integral pieces of the world-building. I’m fine with that. What makes this world interesting is McMaster’s take on vampires, or blue bloods. In this alternate Victorian England, the blue bloods are the highest level of society, divided into houses, mostly men because women are too weak (snort), and to become one of them is an honor and a guarantee of power and riches. But blue bloods aren’t vampires. No, vampires are what they become once they live too long with the virus that created them. Once the Fade begins, all humanity in them disappears and they become feral bloodthirsty beings, insatiable killing machines. Within this world of blue bloods there are politics, power plays, and rivalries; a tenuous relationship with humans, violence, suppression, poverty. A dark world full of fear with a deep divide between the have’s and the have not’s.
This was a rich backdrop in which to set the story and what I love about McMaster is that she really does drop you in there. She trusts her readers to figure things out and, as a result, avoids the pitfalls of info-dumps. McMaster creates wonderful pacing in which the world and its politics slowly unfurl for the reader. And what a great backdrop this is for the two main characters, Blade and Honoria Todd, a couple so full of drama and chemistry that it was near impossible to put this book down.
Honoria Todd is on the run. Her father murdered, the oldest of three siblings, she went from being in a position of comfort and security, to one of poverty and constant danger of discovery. Honoria and her brother and sister are now living in the rookery, the slums of this alternate London, and the one area that is not at the command of the ruling blue bloods, the Echelon. No, the rookery is under the control of Blade, a rogue blue blood himself who is the only one who can defy the Echelon and, in many ways, is considered its boogeyman. Honoria will need his help to survive.
Their combustible chemistry is just…wonderfully torturous. I loved the slow dance between these two. Honoria is full of secrets and fear and refuses to open up to Blade. This tends to annoy me as oftentimes the withholding of important information is a very thin plot device. Not so here. McMaster creates a very palpable fear for Honoria. I understand why she can’t tell Blade the truth of her situation; I understand this almost debilitating sense of responsibility that keeps her from following her heart. The back and forth, the hot and cold, the sweet torture of the prolonged coming together of these characters was just pitch perfect.
There was also an interesting cast of supporting characters. Most notably, Will, Blade’s right hand man. McMaster creates some sexual identity issues for Will that adds an interesting layer to the relationship between the two men. Also, Barrons with his conflicted motives and Aramina, the lone female blue blood – there’s definitely a story in her origins and her relationship with Barron’s. And I want to know it.
If there were any missteps, I would say that I figured out the mystery of an unidentified vampire fairly quickly and the cover…that’s not the Honoria Todd I know. She would never, ever flash her garter! The ending also felt a bit too resolved but it seems each book in the series will focus on a new couple so it’s understandable. But those are very, very minor quibbles. The genre-bending drama, romance, and dark world McMaster creates here is just delicious. I highly recommend KISS OF STEEL for any readers looking for a strong paranormal romance packed with suspense, danger, and a world in which you can lose yourself.