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review 2015-10-04 22:48
#CBR7 Book 105: Of Silk and Steam by Bec McMaster
Of Silk and Steam (London Steampunk) - Bec McMaster

This is the fifth and final book in the London Steampunk series. There will be minor spoilers for previous books in the series, and it's really not the best place to start. If you're interested, start at the beginning with Kiss of Steel.


The precarious power balance in the capital is becoming untenable. Human Queen Alexandra is more of a powerless puppet to her powerful and erratic blueblood (vampire) husband, the Prince Consort, than ever before. Even the ruling council of the Echelon (the nobility) have little control over his more and more unpredictable decisions. The common people, normal humans and mechs (humans who have had limbs replaced with mechanical prosthetics after accidents) are being pressed harder than ever before, with more extreme blood taxes and the situation is reaching a breaking point.


A number of people are working quietly to fortify Whitechapel, controlled by Sir Henry Rachinger, better known as Blade or the Devil of Whitechapel. Since his wife, Honoria, published the scientific findings of her dead father, leading to a vaccine against the blueblood virus, the Prince Consort's power over the Echelon has slipped further. The heads of the city's police force, the humanist party, Blade, his wervulfen sister- and brother-in law, as well as the heir to the Duke of Caine, Leo Barrons are all working together to fortify the walls of Whitechapel and get enough ammunition to incite a proper rebellion.


Unbeknownst to them, Lady Aramina or Mina, Duchess of Cassavian and one of the few blueblood women in London society, has been working diligently for nearly a decade, funding the humanists. The queen is her best friend and she hates seeing how the Prince Consort abuses and manipulates her. On the surface, she's all coldly correct, supportive of the Prince Consort's rule, even willing to help him physically reprimand his wife. Behind closed doors, she works tirelessly to keep the queen's spirits up, spending as much of her private funds as she can to arm the humanists. She has no idea that there are others working towards the same goal, including the man she considers her enemy.


Mina believes that the Duke of Caine killed her father and has sworn revenge against him and his son. She doesn't know that Leo isn't actually the duke's son, that he has three half-siblings, including Honoria, Blade's wife. While she wants to hate him, Leo on the other hand, is fascinated by Mina and wants to crack through her icy veneer to unleash the fiery, passionate woman he believes she is hiding. Unfortunately, when the Prince Consort gets access to the truth of Leo's parentage, through a duplicitous investigator Mina hired, he is forced to go into hiding. Believing Mina to be the one who betrayed him, he takes her hostage, dragging her into Whitechapel, the only place he can hide. When he runs, the Prince Consort declares he will burn the area to the ground. The plans for rebellion need to be put into action.


While I thought the first two books in the series were a bit slow, the last three were extremely entertaining and it was especially refreshing to see that the cold and frankly quite snooty-seeming Duchess of Cassavian not only had hidden depths, but was a full-fledged badass. On his deathbed, her father defied tradition and infected her with the craving virus and she was forced to kill any pretender to her title in order to protect herself. Having lost her older brother before the Duke died from mysterious causes, with her mother becoming catatonic with grief, Mina has lived a very lonely and dangerous life. She can't openly support and champion her only friend, having to work behind the scenes to remove the tyrannical Prince Consort. Because society believes that women are too weak and emotional to handle the craving virus, she has to work twice as hard as the Echelon males to stay in control of her bloodlust and urges, to prove them all wrong. She's had lovers, but is afraid to let herself go completely and therefore feels both tempted and frustrated by Leo's advances and refusal to give up courting her.


Leo is also very lonely, having been raised in an almost militaristic fashion by the Duke of Caine, who was treated the same way by his father. Having realised early on that he was illegitimate, Leo still feels guilty about refusing to help his half-siblings when they were in need, resulting in Honoria's bargain with Blade, which in turn led to her marriage. Leo became infected with the craving virus because of a botched experiment of his biological father, and as revenge doctored the vaccine Sir Artemus Todd was planning on taking, not realising that he also meant to give it to his son Charlie, Leo's half brother. Charlie became a rogue blueblood, and Leo has never been able to forgive himself for causing this. Even after his half-siblings have forgiven him and try to include him as much as they can, they can't openly show their connection. Once the Prince Consort discovers the truth for himself, and orders Leo executed, his sister and brother-in-law are the only ones he can turn to for help.


Mina is appalled that the man she paid to investigate Leo also reported to the Prince Consort. Being held prisoner by Leo and Blade in Whitechapel when the city is about to erupt in civil war is disastrous for her, though, as she needs to make sure the queen is safe. This leads to her trying her best to escape, while Leo keeps chasing her down, becoming more and more aware how important she is to him.


The romance in this was excellent and I was impressed with how well McMaster united all the various pieces that she's introduced in the previous books. With every book, she's introduced one more thread, bringing them all together here. Discovering that Mina was the financial source behind the humanists was a delightful surprise, and when she finally allows herself to give into her attraction to Leo, things get pretty smoking hot. With some Steampunk series, that element gets unnecessarily gimmicky, not so here. The world-building and character development has been excellent throughout, and it's always good to see a series that ends on a high note instead of fizzling out. I highly recommend McMaster's books to anyone who likes paranormal historicals and look forward to what she's going to write next.


Source: kingmagu.blogspot.com/2015/10/cbr7-book-105-of-silk-and-steam-by-bec.html
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review 2015-08-16 00:00
Of Silk and Steam
Of Silk and Steam - Bec McMaster For the final book in the series I debated between 3 and 4 stars. But as it is my usual preference, I went lower rather than higher. I am not generous with my stars. For a book to reach 4 stars, I must like it not just ok but well.

I have said in all my reviews of the series, I am exceedingly impressed with Bec McMaster's imagination and how she blended historical sterotypes and locations with this fantasy world. It was very well done and I really enjoyed reading about this alternative London. Splendid, indeed.

My less than enthusiastic ratings for the 3rd book and this last installment of the series have everything to do with my preference of romance stories. My problem always lies with the heroine. I like Leo a lot and I even like Mina for him. I think she must be written the way she is to be a match for Leo. Bec McMaster did not falter here. She was right in maknig Mina who she is: the lonely ice princess who holds her ground.

It was however hard for me to really like her. It is personal and by no means a poor reflection on Mina as a character. She is involved in politics and must scheme and play the game to survive. I am not much for that. I respect her but I do not like her.

The story is split between political intricacies and romance. While I find McMaster's prose enjoyable and enjoy reading about what was driving the story forward, it became too much of a war between the prince consort and his opponents. A evil blueblood (prince consort) who ruled with cruelty versus everyone else, good bluebloods, human, mechs, werewolves. I am a romantic at heart. Leo and Mina's love story became secondary and a by-product of the events.

My favorite of the series has to be Will and Helena's love story, which is the second book. Then the first book, Blade and Honoria's story is a rather distant second. I skipped Perry and Garret's story which is the 4th in the series. This book would be my 3rd with Lynch and Rosalind the 4th, basically my least favorite.

The ranking depends hugely on my preference of characterization and has nothing to do with the writing quality or plots. I applaud Bec McMaster for creating such a fantastic alternative world and would look forward to reading more from her.
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review 2015-03-28 14:42
Of Silk and Steam (London Steampunk) - Bec McMaster

I just have to say before I start, OMG!  I loved this book.  I have loved the London Steampunk series from the very first chapter in Kiss of Steel, and this conclusion of the series did not disappoint.

Aramina Duvall (Duchess of Casavian) and Leo Barrons (Duke of Caine's "son") are from rival families.  Leo has been pursuing Mina for the past 6 or so years and she has not been pleased with his attentions, believing him out to get something from her or hurt her.  She wants vengeance against his father because she believes he had something to do with her father's death so she is quite adverse to trusting Leo's motives. The story begins with a flashback to the time when Leo first meets Mina and is attracted to her and fascinated with her.  It then jumps to the present (Steampunk-Victorian England, 1880).  The story is broken down into three parts: The Chase, The Betrayal, and The Tower. There are forces at work to remove the Prince Consort from the thrown and both Mina and Leo are part of those forces, though they both do not realize it, and they are working with two different groups, but with the same outcome desired. The chemistry between the two of them are wonderful.  I loved watching the scenes where he flirted with her and she tried to resist his appeal.  When they finally come together it is explosive.

Part 2 The Betrayal is intense; Leo believes she has betrayed him and he loses everything (or thinks he has).  The Prince Consort is slowly trying to eliminate those counselors that vote against him, and Leo is on that list.  The Prince Consort uses information about Leo's birth and the fact that he isn't actually the Duke of Caines' biological son to remove him.  He wants him executed for treason and the abused queen (who actually has all of the power, but has been beaten down throughout the years and is controlled by the Prince Consort) says to execute him. The information the Prince Consort uses Leo knows that Mina possessed.  He believes she gave that information to the Prince Consort.  Their interactions after this scene are emotional, but it also forces them together and it gives Mina a chance to see that maybe she does have an ally in her plans to kill the Prince Consort in Leo. When her secret humanist leadership role comes out it is totally awesome. I loved reading that scene and Leo's reaction to the fact that they are fighting the same war.  

Part 3 The Tower is a wonderful conclusion to the series.  LOL, I think I have used too many "wonderful", "loved", and "awesome" words :-P  I just love this series and this last book doesn't do anything that disappoints.  The passionate scenes between Leo and Mina are perfect. The Prince Consort is a villain that I looked forward to seeing die and the person who makes the first fatal blow is poetic justice. When Mina confesses that she and the queen have been the ones working to eliminate him for years and that the queen is the leader of the Humanist party, the look on the Prince Consort's face is perfect. The battle scenes are well written and the conclusion of the coupe is exactly what I wanted to happen. When Leo and Mina find each other after everything they embrace each other and have a passionate reunion and she confesses her love for him, taking the final step to being together permanently.

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review 2015-03-15 20:24
Of Silk and Steam (Bec McMaster)
Of Silk and Steam (London Steampunk) - Bec McMaster

4.5 stars

Of Silk and Steam is the final book of Bec McMaster’s London Steampunk series, and it brings all parties to one thrilling action – Viva Revolution! From rogue blue bloods, the humanist supporters, the Nighthawks, as well as rebels inside the council, they all work side by side to overthrow the Prince Consort. In amidst of this, we have the captivating enemies-to-lovers romance between Lady Mina Duvall and Leo Barrons.

One thing I admire from Bec McMaster is her ability to develop different couples with their own unique characteristics. We have five different couples and none of them are similar or carbon-copy from the other. In Of Silk and Steam , Mina and Leo are both blue bloods who hold a position inside The Council of Dukes. Leo serves as the Duke of Caine’s proxy, whose health has been declining over the years. While Mina, the only Duchess in the council represents The House of Casavian after her father died.

I have been wanting to read Leo Barrons’ story from the very beginning – ever since I knew that he was actually the half-brother of the Todds (Honoria, Lena, Charlie) by blood. With each book, Leo proves to be a worthy ally towards the rebels. I really loved him and I was getting more curious to read about his love interest… and to be honest, I wasn’t expecting Mina at all!

Mina Duvall, to me, came as a mysterious heroine. Mina has an icy calculating façade, which makes her a tough character to crack. I remembered when she made a decision in book #1, which swayed the vote to save Blade’s life. I kept wondering what would be the significance of her as a character in this book. Will she become a heroine or is she a villain that everyone must be careful of?

I must say that I’m very happy to get this book because I finally got to understand Mina. I could understand why she put those layers to protect herself. Being the only female in the Council makes the others look down on her, especially since Council of Dukes would never allow a female to be considered as blue blood. Mina has a lot against her and her position as Duchess of Casavian, thus she needs to be strong and smart.

Honestly, with each and every revelation about Mina, my admiration to her grows threefold. I mean, for the past ten years, ever since she ascended to the duchy, Mina has been slowly planning to overthrow the Prince Consort: building a network of humanist, playing the court to her advantage. And she does this basically by herself!! In order to help her best friend, the queen. I personally thought Mina triumphs over all male characters in this series; she doesn’t gain her victory by brute physical strength (though she can win a physical fight too) but she also uses her intellectuality – basically, a woman after my own heart.

The romance between Leo and Mina is slow-burn … because Mina doesn’t easily trust Leo after years thinking of him as the son of the Duke who killed her father. While this makes the ‘forbidden’ love affair engaging to read, I admit that sometimes Mina’s tendency to retreat back to her shell frustrated me. Leo definitely is the one who falls for the relationship early on, as he already thinks of Mina as someone worth to pursue as well as losing his heart for. Mina needs more time catch up. Having said that, their courtship from enemies to lovers is filled with great banter, cat-and-mouse games, and some sexy times.

Bec McMaster ends this thrilling series with a blast, and the climax is worth my losing few hours of sleep … I am happy that she has a spin-off in the making, because I’m not exactly ready to say goodbye to this world. Oh, and if she ever decides to make a stand-alone story about Charlie and Lark, well, I’m not going to say “no” to that as well *wink-wink nudge-nudge*.

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review 2015-03-10 00:16
Heck yeah!
Of Silk and Steam (London Steampunk) - Bec McMaster

I wasn't as excited by the romantic pairing here -- much of their conflict seemed arbitrary, as did Leo's sudden pursuit -- but holy shit was the mythology wrapped up well. This is the fifth in the series, and a full scale revolution has been brewing in the background. Here it finally explodes. I loved how nuanced all the revolutionaries were: not a unified group, and often in open conflict as to method, at least when they knew about each other at all. Yay! 


I suspect McMaster isn't done with this series -- I can see her setting up the next pairing, and also wtf happened with Caine? -- and it'll be way interesting to see what she does with this motley bunch once they're more or less in power. I also hope we get a book about the queen. Everybody cross your fingers. 

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