Review: Kiss of Steel (London Steampunk 01) by Bec McMaster

Book info:
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Genre: paranormal romance, alternate history fantasy, steampunk-flavoured
Target audience: adults


After the tragic death of his father Honoria Todd found herself in dire straits: impoverished, with two younger siblings to care for, one of them seriously ill, forced to move to a seedy quarter of London to save on her lodgings and forced to change her name because she had to hide from her father’s aristocratic patron, Vickers. If she thought her major difficulties were over she was wrong. Soon enough Blade, a self-styled ruler of Whitechapel, asks her to pay him a visit. Honoria lives now on his home turf so either she will earn his protection or she’ll sink spectacularly, dragging her sister and brother behind.

Blade is a rogue blue blood – a kind of civilised vampire but not sanctioned by the government. He is also 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. What can Honoria offer to him? Her beauty? Her blood? Or maybe she can simply teach him how to read and speak like a gentleman?

Matters between these two get complicated every ten pages. Blade knows more about Honoria than the girl would like to divulge. Honoria lies to him because she distrusts blue bloods in general, having been treated horribly by some of them. Still their mutual attraction seems to be a prevalent factor – that and the diaries of Honoria’s father with a secret every blue blood vampire would gladly kill for.
What I liked:
I liked the vampires and werewolves (here called verwulfen) and the whole premise with vampires being scheming aristocrats and politicians who keep ordinary humans as thralls to feed upon. Oridnary citizens have to pay taxes in blood; some of them are forced to work in Blood Factories. What a pity we couldn’t visit one of them, though. The romance was also good and steamy – no complaints here. Whenever Honoria and Blade meet sparks are flying and of course they end up together.
What I didn’t like:
First let me tell you that the name of the whole series, London Steampunk, is highly misleading. I could count steampunk elements of this novel using fingers of just my one hand. First: steam cabbies. They appear 5-6 times throughout the book never playing an important role in the narration. Second: a mechanical arm of one of Blade’s ruffians, again never being something more than a prop. Third: Honoria’s father unusual gun, also never described in more detail. Add to it some mechanical spiders Honoria’s childhood nemesis, Leo, used to put into her bed. Steampunky? I’m afraid only superficially so. I am not impressed. I know steampunk is a fashionable genre but it demands more from a writer than just mentioning some machinery here or there.
What’s more I must say I never bought Blade as a well-rounded character. Don’t get me wrong, as a love interest of Honoria he is more than fine but as an evil overlord, controlling one of the nastiest London districts, he was out of place to say the least of it. He should be a ruthless, cunning, violence-prone bas***d, and he was portrayed as a Mother Theresa wannabie who carries razors and drinks blood. All his thralls love him because he treats them like a cat lover might treat newborn kittens. He’s never hurt an innocent in his life (insert a guffaw or two here). All very fine but why actually his ennemies fear him? Because he kills them with kindness? In real life such a tame mobster would be overthrown in a second by one of his closest buddies.
Finally the cover art doesn’t work for me either – not even one single moment. If it is supposed to portray Blade and Honoria then I regret to inform you that Blade’s hair was light blond or golden even, not dark, and Honoria, being brought up as a lady, would never ever be caught outside in such a vulgar outfit, straight from a house of ill-repute.
Final verdict:
Overall the book was not bad for a debut but, as it was definitely more paranormal romance or alternate history fantasy than steampunk, I felt a bit cheated. I don’t like being cheated. Oh well. I bought it cheap. ;p
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6 Responses to Review: Kiss of Steel (London Steampunk 01) by Bec McMaster

  1. Blodeuedd says:

    Yeah I know, no steampunk! I hate that they say it's steampunk when like one person mentions one thing. Cheated indeed

  2. Exactly. It does more harm than promo.

  3. heidenkind says:

    I wouldn't mind paying taxes in blood, but then how would we build roads?I just finished a "steampunk" novel myself. It kind of bothers me that this is considered a literary genre but most of the books are actually another genre with descriptions of things that are steampunk-y.

  4. Let's hope the time will sift the wheat from chaff. Overall I am very wary nowadays when it comes to the 'steampunk' label – it's a good review first, a purchase later. Especially different 'product descriptions lie through their teeth.

  5. Aurian says:

    Wow that sucks. I would so buy this book for the cover you see. And if it is not even steampunk, or a kick ass lady heroine, well. Thanks for the review.

  6. Well, the heroine was kick-ass but still she had nothing in common with that gal on the cover. Steampunk it is most definitely not.

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