I just finished the entire series of London Steampunk by Bec McMaster. McMaster’s series is set in the latter part of the nineteenth century and as the title conveys it is set in London. The series is mainly urban fantasy with some steampunk elements in which the series is comprised of four main books and two novellas. The steampunk gadgets are secondary to the character driven plots, which I was drawn into by McMaster’s powerful writing. The world that McMasters’s has built is one of divided classes. The Echelon rules London proper, and they have built a wall around it to keep the ‘riff raft’ out. The ‘rift raft’ just happens to be the rest of the world, and one who isn’t them or being used by them. The Echelon (aristocracy) control the technology, economy and the very lives of everyone else, they are the dictators of London. The Echelon is ruled by a Prince Consort, who is married to a human Queen. The series is social commentaries, political intrigue, suspense adventures all rolled into an enthralling romantic reads. Despite the Echelon being outnumbered, the human, mechs (those with mechanical limbs or organs) and others, are not organized enough to bring about change, plus they have no real way to stand up against the technology the Echelon wields to crush discourse.
Each book in the series builds onto the last, the characters from the first stories are still involved in the story arch at it has progressed. Each book has a main romantic couple that propels the series story arch to the next level, in a riveting tale of those who hold power, and the steel heels under which the rest of society lives.
There are a myriad of interesting elements in the world building, and my attention was sparked by the way McMasters writes about the virus that makes the blue blooded Echelon (aka blood drinkers); in that the Echelon purposely only infect their young males with. Woman need not apply, to receive the blood right, as it is called. The virus gives the males of the Echelon increased speed, strength and a longer life span, the draw back is the hunger, a hunger for blood. It is as if the virus was a living entity, perhaps a demon that slowly takes over the individual infected, or a darkness that consumes the individuals humanity leaving nothing but a monster. The viral load is slow to increase, therefore it isn’t seen as a disease that should be shunned, it is seen as a gift. The gifts has a huge drawback, vampirism, as the viral load increases the infected start to fade, becoming monsters of nightmares. When the viral count gets close to 80 off comes the heads of the Echelon member.
One point that McMaster’s hasn’t delved into, is the age rate at which the human consorts (wives) and the female (human) children of the Echelon age. So how do the woman tolerate aging as humans, while their husbands stay perpetually young until the fade? One can imagine that when the youth fades from the females, so does the desire to have her around. Who would want an old lady on their arm when they are still young a viral.
I am fascinate to see where McMasters takes these stories, as it seems that the virus might effect a persons humanity. The entitlement that the Echelon feel because of their money and social standing is just exacerbated by the virus.
I am totally intrigued and can’t wait to read book number five Of Silk and Steam which releases March of 2015.
When Nowhere Is Safe
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 the steam-fuelled world of Victorian London, vampires, werewolves and slasher gangs stalk the night and a man made partly of metal is about to discover just how far he’ll go to protect the woman he loves…
After a vicious vampire attack left him struggling to leash the dark urges of the craving virus, John “Rip” Doolan thinks he’s finally starting to master the darkness within. The only thing that threatens to shatter his hard-won control is Esme, his closest friend and the only woman he’s ever wanted. If the stubborn beauty ever realized precisely what was going through his mind, their friendship would be ruined.
For six months, Esme has waited for Rip to recover and take her as his thrall, not daring to hope for more. Too afraid to put her heart on the line, she is devastated when Rip reveals that he never had any intentions of making her his.
But when a savage gang of Slashers start causing havoc in Whitechapel, Rip and Esme have no choice. They must face up to the depth of the passion that burns between them and forge a new relationship…or risk losing each other forever.
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…
Determined to destroy the Echelon she despises, Rosalind Fairchild is on seemingly easy mission. Get in. Uncover the secrets of her brother’s disappearance. And get out.
In order to infiltrate the Nighthawks and find their leader, Sir Jasper Lynch, Rosalind will pose as their secretary. But she doesn’t count on Lynch being such a dangerously charismatic man, challenging her at every turn, forcing her to re-evaluate everything she knows about the enemy.
He could be her most dangerous nemesis—or the ally she never dreamed existed.
Friends, partners, and professionals. So just why is this case coming between them?
In a Victorian London ruled by the blood-drinking elite, Perry Lowell is a logical and accomplished Nighthawk: a rogue blue blood who tracks murderers and thieves for the Guild. So when she and her charming-but-reckless partner, Garrett, are charged with finding a missing theatre starlet, it should be a simple solve.
But with an entire theatre of suspects, including a flirtatious understudy and whispers of a Clockwork Menace haunting the place, tension is brewing between the pair of them. Can they come together to solve the case – or will it be too late, when the murderer turns his gaze on Perry herself?
Warning: This is not a complete HEA. It’s a pre-romance novella featuring the couple who will find their HEA in Forged By Desire (available Sept 2014). Heads will butt, tempers will flare – and perhaps one of them might come to realise just what the other truly means to them?
Captain Garret Reed of the Nighthawk guard has a deadly mission: capture a steel-jawed monster preying on women. He hates to put his partner, Perry, in jeopardy, but she’s the best bait he has. Little does he realize, he’s about to be caught in his own trap.
Perry has been half in love with Garrett for years, but this is not exactly the best time to start a relationship—especially when their investigation leads them directly into the clutches of the madman she thought she’d escaped…
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