The well-bred ladies gather to mingle at the ball, fluttering their fans, trading on-dits, hoping to catch the eye of one of the eligible men for a dance. Only in Bec McMaster’s steam-punk world, the men are not just Dukes but also vampires, and instead of the marriage mart, theses men seek young women eager to contractually obligate themselves for life as thralls, or personal blood banks.
Her series takes a fun twist on historical romance, then kicks it up a notch with werewulfen (werewolves obvs.), adventure, and gives quite a few of her characters a cockney accent which is fun.
“If you’re tryin’ to grease me up for this favor you want o’ me you ain’t doin’ much of a bang-up job, princess.”
Heart of Iron – Book #2
Lena has just accepted a thrall contract from Lord Macy, guaranteeing her position in society and promising a future where she is protected, driven about in gold steam carriages, and dripping in pearls. All it costs is a bit of blood.
Except when threats are made against her family, she’s drawn into a plot against the ruling Echelon. And lured into the orbit of the hulking Will Carver, The Beast, the only man who has ever spurned her advances. Will has lusted after Lena for years, but kept his feelings suppressed because his werewulfen side puts her, and anyone close to him, at risk.
There is SO MUCH PLOT in this book. The plot races so quickly you don’t get much chance to ponder what’s going on. Which is good, because while fun, it’s one of those plots that doesn’t hold up well under scrutiny. This is a guilty-pleasure read. Just go with it.
How much pleasure you get from it will depend on three things:
- Do you like stories featuring a big lug? Because Will is a lug. He solves problems by hitting them. And is broodingly sexy. Will does not exchange smoldering banter over tea. He chases bad men down dark alleys then kills them with his bare hands.
- Are you bothered by ill-defined protagonists? Lena is, at various points of the story, pro-Echelon, anti-Echelon, a social genius, a scientific genius, the smartest person in the room, and an utter idiot. Her motivations are murky at best. Like some of the plot points, Lena works best if you don’t really consider the fact that frequently what she’s doing in the moment makes absolutely no sense.
- THE BIG MISUNDERSTANDING. Much of the romantic conflict boils down to a single piece of information which one person has and the other does not. It’s one of those, “Why didn’t you tell me earlier sparing us both 200 pages of angst?!?!” sorts of things.
I read this book in the winter dark while doped up on benadryl. I can’t say it’s a great book but it was enjoyable in the moment.
Forged by Desire – #4
“Ten years ago, Perry fled her thrall contract to find sanctuary among the Nighthawks. In that time, she’s become a respected woman of the Guard, and she’s wanted Garrett Reed for as long as she can remember. But when a new case takes a chillingly familiar turn, Perry finds herself once again in the path of a madman…only this time, there’s nowhere left to run.”
Forged by Desire moves out of the ballroom and into back-alleys as Perry and Garrett are Nighhawks (sexy vampire police) on the hunt for a killer who has a mysterious agenda and deep connections into the very peak of the Echelon.
Perry is a rare female Nighthawk, capable and strong, but with secrets that could destroy everything she’s worked for. Garret is her sexy best-friend who has just come to the realization that he may very well be desperately in love with her. They wear leather pants and frequently share passionate embraces before one of them breaks it off brethlessly, “No! We mustn’t!”
Typically I’m perfectly happy to spend some book-time with leather-clad sexy vampires, however Forged by Desire didn’t work for me for a number of reasons:
- Perry has secrets and is determined to keep those secret for reasons. Unfortunately those secrets lead to the death of some innocents, put everybody she cares about in mortal danger, and 98% of the plot could have easily been avoided if she had simply owned up to her past at the get-go.
- After palling around for a full decade, Garret finally realizes how attracted he is to Perry when they go to the Opera together and Perry wears a wig and a dress. I love the “friends to lovers” trope which is served best when two people develop feelings for each other over time. Here Perry shows up in a bit of silk and BOOM!
- Garret knows Perry has secrets and is constantly bullying her to fess up. I agree with Garret – Perry should definitely have fessed up far earlier. But that doesn’t make his bullying OK. Even if he’s a super sexy bully.
- Garret and Perry spend very little time together. When they do, they’re mostly arguing. Or snogging. But there is little smolder or even a compelling evidence that these two like each other. We’re frequently told how much they care for each other but are given scant opportunities to actually see it . There’s little flirting although they are frequently silently enjoying the way the other looks in leather pants.
- Perry puts herself in a hugely dangerous situation she can’t come clean about her secret and she can’t put everybody she cares about at risk! This theme comes up frequently in urban fantasy because it’s an easy segue into a huge action sequence and nothing says love more than, “I will die for youuuuu!” Which is fine and well, but Perry’s plan felt stupid and short-sighted. Personally it feels like lazy storytelling, but that may simply be an issue of personal preference.
This was also read while doped up on benedryl and yet was less fun and will likely be my last foray into this sexy steampunk realm. Mostly due to price: her books are all $6+ on Kindle but they’re only $3.99 good.
I want to say I’m done with these but I’ve now read all but the last in the series, which Malin says ends on a high note. So the completist in me will probably spend another $6 for more sexy steampunk vampires. But I’m not sure if I can recommend you do the same.