Enemies. Allies. Lovers.
When her beloved father was assassinated, Lady Aramina swore revenge. The man responsible is well beyond her grasp, but his dangerously seductive heir, Leo Barrons, is fair game. When Mina obtains evidence proving that Leo is illegitimate, she has the means to destroy both the killer and his son, a man who troubles her heart and tempts her body.
A woman of mystery, Mina’s long driven Leo crazy with glimpses of a fiery passion that lurks beneath her icy veneer. He knows she’s hiding something, and he’s determined to unravel her layer by silken layer. He just doesn’t expect the beautiful liar to be the key to overthrowing the corrupt prince consort… or to saving his own carefully walled-off heart.
Here we are, awarding the first BAE (Bomy Award of Excellence) of the year, and boy does Of Silk and Steam deserve it!! The London Steampunk series is one of those I was dead set on getting to read at some point, but then it never seemed to happen. Don’t even get me started on all the other titles and series I want to read and never manage to get to, it’s scary 😐 Seriously. Stop laughing 😛 But then I saw this baby up on NetGalley, and thank God for novels in series you can read as stand-alones too, because huzzah! This was the first novel I read in the series, #5 though it may be, and Bec McMaster has definitely made it on my fav ever authors list – we’re talking top 5, in fact.
The world of the London Steampunk series is beyond awesome, and quite possibly one of the best worlds I’ve read. Aside my regular passion for steampunk elements (automatons as servants, weapons, saviors might I add; mechs so humans with mechanical body parts, the works!), there are delicious paranormal elements (blue bloods – original vampire concept; verwulfen – werewovels), historical elements (1880’s London = pure win!) with a whole new spin on events and social order – let’s just face it, it’s tough to beat the worldbuilding of the series. It must also be said that all of these goodies, original and plentiful, made perfect sense to me as a first-time series reader, which I will strongly emphasize is tough to do. Kudos Bec McMaster for not only pulling that off, but doing it in style and with grace xD
Now, as much as I loved the worldbuilding (and you know how big of a worldbuilding geek I am, lol!), I loved the characters even more. I’m so in love with them I don’t even know where to start talking about them, haha! Magnificent dilemma to be in, let me tell you!
Lady Mina was possibly the awesomest female protagonist of all times. Okay, maybe not of all times, but she’s seriously in the top 10 for me. Not only was she magnificently built, charismatic, authentic, entirely easy to empathize with and entirely love, but she was also very strong, determined, highly opinionated and kept fighting for what she believed in, skillful…a lady making it in a man’s world, and doing it with loads of style. I cannot speak highly enough about her, that’s how much I loved her.
I got everything about her, from her uber awesomeness to her reticence when it came to feelings and going with them. In truth, I don’t think you really make it as a vulnerable woman, not in a man’s world – it’s one of those things that annoy me about life in general. The 1880’s London setting is without a doubt a man’s world (not that it’s so dramatically different nowadays in many, many parts of the world if not all – don’t get me started, lol!). I loved the conflict between allowing herself to be vulnerable and her need to be unflappable. It’s a conflict I think many of us get intimately, and it’s most likely one of the reasons I loved her so much. I’d out posters of Lady Aramina up on my walls, basically.
Don’t get me wrong, Leo Barrons wasn’t any tougher to love. Not at all. The man was charismatic, funny, intelligent, had a good set of morals on him (also of balls, it must be said, for lots of reasons including pursuing Mina but also all of his extracurricular activities, lol!). Shockingly, he wasn’t the super alpha hero type. The man constantly loved Mina doing her own thing, pulling her own string, and admired her all the more for it. It’s a rare occurrence that I love his type of character this much, probably because I find it’s rarely done as well.
Braine @ Talk Supe often shows much loving to betas, and while I totally get her reasoning each time, in the back of my mind there’s always this thought, like “Would I ever actually love a beta male hero?”. To me, Leo was betaish in the couple, or something like 1.5 beta or something, somewhere between beta and alpha. Mina tended to be the alpha in most emotional aspects, and when it came time for the hot, brilliantly, smolderingly hot one on one, roles tended to reverse. If you ask me, this is the perfect man, lol. I mean he’s smart, educated, capable, strong, has a great sense of humor, super determined and sure about what or who he wants… sigh. Just… sigh. For both Leo and Mina, a huge sigh. I want, lol! Gimme!
The couple had amazing chemistry, they were super hot together when it finally happened, but man was it a fun chase until then! Slow burn romance, looooots of tension that explodes masterfully when it’s finally time. Huzzah!
The story was so rich and had so many elements that earlier, when I was writing the genre categories (because OCDness galore, yes, shut up 😛 ), I was like “Sweet Jesus, what am I going to leave out?”, you know what I mean? There are so many goodies woven into this novel that it’s tough to separate threads and focus on just one. And everything comes together so beautifully… love, the struggle for freedom (I’m a hardcore fan of that too, btw), personal growth and not just for Mina and Leo either…just so much goodness.
The third person, past narrative from Mina and Leo’s POV was impeccable, if you ask me. Smooth, delicious sense of humor, historical-flavor-appropriate style, gorgeous voice, vivid and suggestive, and powerful. In one word? Purrfect!
In terms of presentation, it couldn’t have been any more appealing a package, imo: awesome cover, hooking blurb, and from now on an instabuy author name for me.
I recommend this novel, and the whole series even without having read it – lol! -, to lovers of awesome steampunk, sizzling hot slow burn romance, strong characters, awesome writing, exciting stories and well deserved happy endings. Of Silk and Steam is a gem.