From the Blurb:
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.
In Kiss of Steel, our heroine is Honoria, a cautious yet determined young woman. Honoria has moved to the Rookeries, a place she never thought to find herself, but she has fled her old life with a bounty on her head and has no where else to go. Life on the run is tough and she is struggling to feed her sister and ailing brother, so she doesn't want any more trouble when she is called to see Blade, the Master of the Rookeries and a Blueblood. Little does she realize how much he has to offer, and just how much he might want in return.
Honoria is an awesome heroine. When we first meet her she is wandering the dangerous streets of the Whitechapel district without any concern for her safety, but with a pistol at hand. Her priority is her family and she will do anything to protect them, which is why she agrees to work for Blade's 'protection' in the Rookeries. She has a dark past and is unwilling to bring down her barriers to let anyone in, but clearly desires Blade from very early on, even if she can't admit it to herself and even if he is a Blueblood (someone with a virus that makes them want blood and eventually turns them into a vampire).
I was a little concerned that this would become one of those stories where the awesome heroine folds under the protection of the hero, but this isn't the case in Kiss of Steel. Blade is a very protective alpha hero, but he is no match for Honoria (who even drugs him in one very amusing scene). Blade wants Honoria from the start but he thrives on her strength as the story progresses, admitting that he wouldn't want her so much if she weren't so challenging to him.
I was quite amused at the thought that this is something of a reverse Pygmalion story, with Honoria and Blade's romance beginning with her attempting to teach him to speak without his Cockney accent, though it rapidly becomes more of the action romance that I expect from steampunk. We have vampires and werewolves aplenty, fancy pistols and ladies in top hats, with a delicious infusion of romance and hot vampire-y sex that the romance steampunk combo allows, and which Bec McMaster does brilliantly.
I love that we settle into the world of Blade and Honoria with such ease. McMaster doesn't bother to weigh the story down with unnecessary details, but outlines just as much as we require to illuminate the world she has created and enthrall the reader. She also explains the creatures in the story enough that we understand each character's background and differences, and such that these add to the color of the story, without this becoming a novel of tedious explanations as I have experienced in other steampunk novels.
I am a total sucker for steampunk romance and Kiss of Steel now rates as one of my absolute favorites. I think I may have even enjoyed it a little more than Soulless by Gail Carriger, but it really isn't worth comparing them since both are fantastic! I finished Kiss of Steel in one sitting, staying up til 4am because I couldn't face the thought of putting it down.
Honestly, I can't recommend Kiss of Steel highly enough. If you enjoy romance and have any interest whatsoever in fantasy/science fiction works, or more specifically in steampunk, ...or even if you are just curious about what the fuss around steampunk is, get this book! Actually, scrap that, no matter what - just get this book! It is so much fun!
I 'read' the Audiobook, so what about the Narrator?
Kiss of Steel is read by Alison Larkin who does an excellent job. I think this story was wonderful enough that I wouldn't have minded who read it, but given that it is a tale of accents and strange creatures, Alison Larkin captures each character very well.
Kiss of Steel was published by Sourcebooks Casablanca in 2012 and is available from Amazon, Book Depository, and Audible.