**I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**
Series: London Steampunk #2
Published by Sourcebooks on May 7, 2013
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Steampunk
AMAZON • B&N • BOOK DEPOSITORY • Goodreads
In Victorian London, if you’re not a blue blood of the Echelon then you’re nothing at all. The Great Houses rule the city with an iron fist, imposing their strict ‘blood taxes’ on the nation, and the Queen is merely a puppet on a string…
Lena Todd makes the perfect spy. Nobody suspects the flirtatious debutante could be a sympathizer for the humanist movement haunting London’s vicious blue blood elite. Not even the ruthless Will Carver, the one man she can’t twist around her little finger, and the one man whose kiss she can’t forget…
Stricken with the loupe and considered little more than a slave-without-a-collar to the blue bloods, Will wants nothing to do with the Echelon or the dangerous beauty who drives him to the very edge of control. But when he finds a coded letter on Lena—a code that matches one he saw on a fire-bombing suspect—he realizes she’s in trouble. To protect her, he must seduce the truth from her.
With the humanists looking to start a war with the Echelon, Lena and Will must race against time—and an automaton army—to stop the humanist plot before it’s too late. But as they fight to save a city on the brink of revolution, the greatest danger might just be to their hearts.
I’m in love with Bec McMaster’s series, London Steampunk. It has politics, intrigue, danger, romance…it’s delicious. After devouring the first book in the series, Kiss of Steel, which focused on Blade, a rogue blue blood (or vampire as we know them) and Honoria, I was excited to learn that this follow-up, Heart of Iron, would center on Will Carver, a werewolf. Though I think its predecessor is still my favorite of the two, Heart of Iron was good. In fact, it was very, very good.
I admit to being slightly confused at the beginning of the book. Several years have passed since the events in Kiss of Steel. Will no longer lives with Blade. Lena, Honoria’s little sister, is all grown up and is a ward of Barrons. There are references to a kiss between Will and Lena and a lot of anger. You can eventually puzzle out what happened but apparently there’s a novella you should read that explains it all. That being said, it didn’t take me long to get into the heart of the story.
Will and Lena are attracted to each other, they have feelings for one another, but they’re hurt because of a past event and neither will make the first move. Will is like Emily Bronte’s Heathcliff, brooding and wild. Lena is his Cathy, impetuous and headstrong. They fight, they glare, they snipe, they avoid each other but they’re inextricably linked. The romance between the two was full of tension – McMaster writes sexual tension like she has a PhD in it. It’s perfect. I enjoyed the dance and wanted these two to get over their issues and admit they need each other. At one point they’re thrown together as Lena has to teach Will how to fit into Echelon society. Those scenes were wonderfully done – the taming of the wolf as it were.
Will Carver is an interesting character. As Blade’s right hand man, he’s second in command of the rookery, the slums of McMaster’s alternate London landscape. He’s reviled by some but most certainly feared by all. As a werewolf, or verwulfen, he’s strong, almost undefeatable. His kind are outlawed, used as entertainment in the fighting pits of the city’s underground or kept as pets by the ruling blue bloods. Blade saved Will from those fates by taking him in and making him family. In Kiss of Steel, Will has sexual feelings for Blade and I was curious to see how McMaster would handle it. She does a good job of showing how confused Will was and how he’d mistaken those feelings for something deeper for Blade. I think it would have been slightly more interesting to see a bit more conflict on this issue but it was still wrapped up well. You see his affections transferred to Lena and his desperate love for her was romantic to the core. Will’s constant fear of accidentally transferring the verwulfen virus resulted in another level of conflict to their relationship.
Lena was harder for me to connect with. She was painted as a bit of an ungrateful little sister in the first book but she’s ultimately redeemed here. Lena is not as superficial as you might have suspected but there were moments I couldn’t wrap my brain around her. Is there a part of her that wants to enjoy the benefits of Echelon society, a world she supposedly despises? Is she toying with Will or does she care? She seems smart (she’s a clockwork genius after all) but can one get so deep into political intrigue as to not ask the really important questions about who and what one is working towards? Lena is involved in something big, risks her life in fact for the Humanist movement, but really she has no idea who or what she is working for or towards. Lena at times comes across as ambiguous and I wasn’t sure if I liked her. In the end, McMaster is able to give me a more solid feel for Lena and I came to appreciate her goals and her feelings for Will but she was a hard one for me to connect with overall.
The world in Heart of Iron is gripping. The Verwulfen world is opened up with clans from northern Europe coming to London on a diplomatic mission and you have the feeling McMaster is laying the ground for a larger arc. This can also be said for the Humanist movement which seems to only be getting stronger and bolder. It feels like a reckoning is coming and McMaster has me completely sucked into seeing it to its conclusion. Of course, a door is left open for the next book and methinks it will feature Jasper Lynch, a character who has made small but effective appearances in both two books.
I honestly cannot recommend this series enough. Drama! Intrigue! Romance! All that with original takes on vampires and werewolves set in steampunk world…please read both Kiss of Steel and Heart of Iron so we can discuss. 4 Howls!