Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Review: Heart of Iron by Bec McMaster

Hear of Iron
(London Steampunk #2)
Bec McMaster
Release: May 7, 2013
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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…

**Note: I highly recommend reading the novella Tarnished Knight (London Steampunk #1.5) before reading Heart of Iron. At the end of Tarnished Knight there is a separate, four chapter mini-novella about Lena and Will that, in my opinion, really needs to be read before book two.

Let me start out by saying that I absolutely adore this series that blends together paranormal, historical, steampunk, and romance. With many of this year's sequels being slightly underwhelming for me, I was beyond pleased to find myself just as absorbed in Will and Lena's story as the first in the series. McMaster is such a skilled author, managing to stretch across multiple sub-genres without it ever feeling contrived or cheesy. She layers just enough paranormal characters and steampunk elements into her alternate 1800's London to build a really rich world that I just love getting lost in.

I also loved getting lost in Will and Lena's romance. Man, can McMaster write with some heat. Cheese and crackers. Even scenes where the characters are just kissing make you feel dirty (in the very best way possible)! Will and Lena share several almost there scenes that will make you all hot and frustrated but they are so worth it.

But, I caution you, again, to read the novella prior to starting this book. I didn't know that and for the first 30% of the book I really felt like I had missed something. Heart of Iron picks up three years after the end of Kiss of Steel and there is A LOT of tension and emotions surrounding both Will and Lena. Will and Lena have also moved on to different places and I was confused about why each move had happened. Plus, there's this kiss they kept referring to sharing and I really wanted to know when the hell this kiss had taken place! I did some digging and discovered the special four chapter story in the novella, read it, and BINGO! I felt much more caught up. Get the novella people. If you're not ready to read the main story - which focuses on Rip and Esme - then skip to the end to find those four chapters. You won't regret it.

I love me some snarling, growly anti-hero and Will embodies this persona. He's a great character, really damaged and lonely but also so strong and protective of Lena. His back story is really sad and tragic and its really nice to see him overcome his past and become confident. He's also so honorable in his fight to stay away from Lena and the more he backed away from her the more I loved him.

And spunky Lena, who will sometimes drive you crazy with some of her immature decisions, does so much growing in this book. At the beginning she has already grown a little, due to the three year time lapse from book one, but she becomes a much rounder character as she starts to discover the things that matter most to her. By the end she's a very different Lena than she was in the first book. I love how her growing love for Will helps her grow as a character. She also has this side story going on with the aristocratic world of the blue bloods and one horrible blue blood determined to ruin her. Frankly, he deserved a hot poker through the eye, but we got to see some other sides of Lena in her dealings with this world and this monster.

The world that serves as Will and Lena's backdrop is so amazing to be a part of vicariously through these characters. I love the steam carriages and Spitfires and mechanical Trojan horses. All of the steampunk elements layered in just really make this series unique. This is one of my favorite, if not my favorite, in the steampunk sub-genre. Add in vampires, verwulfen, and a sexy and passionate romance between two characters that truly need each other and I'm hooked. I look forward reading the next in this series, which will focus on the leader of the Nighthawks, Jasper Lynch. I also wonder...will Leo Barrons get his romance in a book some time soon?

Recommended for fans of: steampunk, growling, jumping across rooftops, secret organizations, sexual tension, and sexy carriage rides.

This review is based on an advance copy of the book provided by the publisher.

  4.5 / 5 stars

My reviews of other books in this series:
Kiss of Steel (London Steampunk #1)

1 comment:

  1. I just read and loved this book too! Like you, I have been really impressed with Bec McMaster's skill at mixing all the genres into a cohesive story. Will is definitely one of my favorite heroes of 2013 and I was surprised with how much I ended up liking Lena after being so annoyed with her in the first book. Great review and I can't wait for My Lady Quicksilver!


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