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Saturday, July 13, 2013

REVIEW: "Heart of Iron" by Bec McMaster

Heart of Iron (London Steampunk, #2)
Heart of Iron by Bec McMaster
For Ages 18+
Steampunk Romance
Sourcebooks Casablanca -- May 7, 2013
Mass Market Paperback, 437 pages
Purchased from Amazon

THEMES
Tortured Hero, Virgin Hero, Heroine in Pursuit, Across the Tracks, Werewolves/Shifters
 
SUMMARY
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…

FIRST LINE
Fog clung to the Thames like a lightskirt to a rich patron.

MY THOUGHTS
Bec McMaster caught my attention with her debut novel, Kiss of Steel, which introduced readers to a steampunk verison of Regency-era London.  The sequel, Heart of Iron, takes the series to the next level and shows how complex this world is.  I continue to be intrigued by McMaster's writing and found this book to be highly entertaining read though not as good as its prequel.

Anybody who knows me and my reading tastes knows that I have a soft spot for scary-looking, tortured heroes with big hearts and Will Carver definitely fits the bill.  He is a verwulfen (a type of werewolf) and has struggled with keeping control of his "beast" for years.  After being infected as a young boy, his mother sold him to a man who ran a carnival and used Will as a freak show act.  Being caged and underfed really did a number on Will's psyche and he feels like he is completely unlovable.  I really fell in love with this guy!  He has had a hard life, but has been able to retain his morals and protective nature.  There were moments where I just wanted to hug him because of how he had been treated before being taken in by Blade.  This book allowed him to step out of the shadows and take control of his destiny for the first time.

The heroine, Lena Todd, is the sister of Honoria (heroine of Kiss of Steel) and she also has had a difficult time.  Her father's death forced her and her siblings to live in poverty before the events of the last book.  Now, she is living with her newly discovered half-brother and using her feminine wiles to spy on the Echelon, the vampiric upper class of London society.  I wasn't sure what to think about Lena at first.  She got on my nerves at times during the first book in the series.  But, the time shift allowed her mature greatly from the first time readers meet her.  She first started working the Echelon because she wanted to be part of that aspect of society, but quickly learned the truth about what goes on between the blue bloods and their thralls.  Lena's development was one of the real surprises for me with this book and I applaud Bec McMaster's talent with this part of the story.

Lena and Will have been attracted to each other since they first met, but both have resisted.  Will is given the opportunity to act as an ambassador for a visiting verwulfen clan and Lena volunteers to help him prepare for society events.  This forces these two to interact for the first time since a pretty steamy encounter that can be seen in the novella, Tarnished Knight, which takes place before Heart of Iron.  I loved the chemistry that McMaster portrayed between Will and Lena in these moments as well as some more intimate situations.  They really have to work to get their happily ever after, but it was definitely worth it by the end.

Another part of this series that I love is the large cast of characters who interact with each other on a regular basis.  Readers get to see the return of Honoria and Blade whose relationship goes through a few pitfalls in this book, but only ends up stronger.  I also loved seeing more of Rip and Esme from Tarnished Knight, Charles (Honoria and Lena's younger brother), and Leo (their newly discovered half-brother).  We also get introduced to some interesting new characters like Sir Jasper Lynch, head of the blue-blood police force, and Rosalind Fairchild, part of the humanist movement.  These two are going to be the focus of the next book in the series and I can't wait see what antics they get into.

While I believe that a reader could read Heart of Iron without reading the others in the series, I would definitely recommend the books be read in order.  Bec McMaster has created a complex world whose issues are constantly growing and changing as the series progresses.  Events from the first book directly relate to this one and I can see some from this one being key in My Lady Quicksilver.

All in all, I found this to be a worthy sequel to Kiss of Steel.  It was engrossing and unique with wonderful character development, steamy romance, and plenty of supernatural suspense to keep readrs' adrenaline pumping.  I highly recommend this one for fans of historical romance, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy!

RATING
4 STARS -- Really enjoyable book that is just this close to being wonderful. May re-read in the future.

BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. Kiss of Steel
1.5. The Tarnished Knight
2. Heart of Iron
3. My Lady Quicksilver (Coming 2013)
4. Forged by Desire (Coming 2014)

1 comment:

  1. Oh I definitely need to read this one. I like the scary/tortured heroes too and he sounds like one I'd love :) I haven't read her yet but her covers keep drawing me in. Gonna have to make time soon :)

    Great review Jennifer!

    ~Anna
    herding cats & burning soup

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