I love this series and I was so eager to read this next installment knowing it would be about Will Carver, the Verwulfen and Lena Todd the impetuous younger sister to Honoria from the first book. I wasn’t sure about Lena because I didn’t find her very likeable in the previous stories because of her short-sightedness and willfulness, but I was ready to have my mind changed. I didn’t think this one could top the first one with its action, danger, creative world-building and fascinating characters, but this one did. For those who found the others thin on the steampunk inventions and gadgetry, you will find this one more up your alley.
The story opens with a bang when Will and Blade investigate a blood factory explosion and encounter trouble. Blade is injured so it is up to Will to pursue the trail of those who blew up the factory and then attacked Blade. The trail leads him to a new group of reactionaries and a coded message. Will senses that new plots have surfaced and that he needs to work out what this new group is up to.
Meanwhile, Lena is now firmly settled back in the world of the Echelon high society going to balls and the such as a debutante looking to become some aristocratic blue blood’s thrall under the protection of Leo as his ward. At least that is what it seems she is doing. In reality she is listening in and spying out what plans the Council and the Prince Consort are working on and relaying them through a network to a secret group who are working against the Echelon. Oh, and avoiding a determined scary Echelon Duke Colchester who is determined to have her for his thrall no matter what Lena wants.
Will’s investigation takes him to Lena who he catches with a similar code that he found chasing his attackers and she tries to lie and put him off, but as he’s verwulfen he can smell her moods. She squirms out of telling him the truth, but his accusations that things with the group she is associated with might not be what they seem get her to thinking as does other inexplicable events going on around her. Her info gathering and messenger work turn dangerous really quick.
The Echelon make Will an offer that he can’t refuse which is to help them ratify a treaty with leaders of his kind in Scandinavia and with the Swedish contingent. He uses the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone when it comes to Lena. He gets her to teach him court etiquette for the forthcoming arrival to the court of the Norwegian verwulfens which will allow him to discover her secrets and keep an eye on her when it comes to Colchester. There is another reason too though he won’t admit it and tries to resist. Will is drawn to Lena and can’t make himself stay away even though he’s doing it for her own good because of the virus he carries in him. Though Lena toys with him and gets hurt when he pulls away, she is drawn to him too. The treaty and the changes that will come with it have many parties concerned and plotting with Will, Lena and their other friends caught up in the crosshairs in this dangerous game played by powerful people. The very last portion of the book held lots of exciting twists and happenings that ended things on a high note.
A novel ‘Kiss of Steel’ and a novella ‘Tarnished Knight’ lead to this powerful sequel that just builds on the others meeting and exceeding expectation. This one assumed that the reader is already familiar with the world of the Echelon and the lower classes in places like the rookeries. I loved how it just pushed forward and there were more references to the steampunk technology and gadgetry and there was more about the verwolfens like Will, but also about another ostracized group known as the Mechs (those who accepted mechanical replacement body parts). Each succeeding story offers something new and fresh while still offering what was enjoyable before.
The emerging hero and heroine, Will and Lena, ended up being an absolute delight. Will was such a wonderful dark, brooding type hero with a heartbreaking past. He is vulnerable when it comes to the few he holds in affection and he is loyal to the bone. He thinks little of himself, but he’s fiercesome and passionate making the Lena one lucky lady to have his attentions- when he finally stops trying to stay away for her own good that is. I do have to say that my concerns about Lena’s character remained and deepened through a goodly part of this book. Fortunately, I was patient giving her a chance to grow and learn. I am so glad I did because it took her awhile, but she finally came through it all a more mature, strong and admirable character that finally deserved her Will. She had to go through several things to get there and I did want to yell at her a lot along the way for naivety and stupidity. Blade, Honoria and the rest of the gang at the rookery got significant scene-time. The set up for the next installment in the series with one enigmatic secondary character and a new character taking the limelight has me impatient for what comes next.
All in all, I was enthralled with the story and recommend this book and the series it’s in to those who love Steampunk Paranormal Romance.
My thanks to Net Galley and Sourcebooks for providing the book for review purposes.
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