By Bec McMaster
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Series or Standalone:London Steampunk
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
This is my second attempt at this review as I somehow lost the first version I wrote, which I bet was a lot better than this one since I’m writing this over a week or so since I read the book instead of the next day. Sigh. Technology.
Heart of Iron is book two in the London Steampunk series by Bec McMaster and it does not disappoint! I am in love with the world that McMaster has created and she manages to build on it even more in this book as we get even deeper into the politics at play within the Echelon and learn more about the verwulfen.
Book two shifts to focus on Lena Todd, Honoria’s younger sister, and William Carver, Blade’s right hand man. Lena is living in society amongst the Echelon, however, she’s also spying on the blue blood elites for the humanist movement – a rebellion group that objects to the Echelon’s iron fist control over the population. Will has left Lena alone for the last few years, despite an attraction simmering under the surface. When he finds a coded note on her that corresponds to a note he found on attackers who bombed a draining factory (aka a blood storage facility), he’s determined to get to the bottom of what Lena is wrapped up in and protect her. Meanwhile, verwulfen from Scandinavia are in London to sign a treaty with the Echelon, and Will gets wrapped up into the political games in play amongst the Echelon.
I feel like it’s hard to recap the plot in this since a lot happens, yet it is all interconnected in really interesting ways. One thing I really loved about this book is how we get an even closer look at the politics in play in this alternative Victorian England and see the beginnings of a large series plot come together. The humanist movement, while hinted at in Kiss of Steel, really takes center stage in this book and it feels like the wheels are being set in motion for a larger confrontation between those who oppose the Echelon’s rule and those who don’t. The political intrigue and rebellious plots really add to the world and bring an extra layer to a romance story.
Outside of the plots and schemes, Will and Lena really drive this story. In book one, we really only saw Lena through the eyes of her sister who didn’t necessarily have the most favorable view of Lena, so it was great to get in her head. Lena was playing a dangerous game in this with spying for the humanist movement, and it was really interesting watching her reckon with the movement’s end goals and her growing feelings for Will.
I also have to say, I loved the push and pull between Will and Lena. I knew in book one from the one scene we had between the two of them that I was going to enjoy them as a couple, and boy was I right! Will, as a verwulfen, has a desire to protect Lena, but he knows that to protect her she needs to avoid him as well, no matter what they both might feel. As the verwulfen virus is spread through bodily fluids, he knows he cannot give into Lena as he doesn’t want to infect her. I love Lena and Will’s flirtation over the course of the book, and while it feels like a bit of game of Lena at first, her feelings grow to be serious. The push and pull between will they or won’t they get together was perfect and McMaster manages to write some steamy scene even without it being a full on sex scene. I will say, I did pick up on the hints of what was to come later in the book between Will and Lena, and was really proud of myself for noting the small details that felt like throw away lines but are actually important to the plot.
I devoured this book in close to one sitting and I think it is safe to say that I am fully hooked on this series! I’m so glad I found this as it kicked a bad reading slump in the butt and for that, I’m so grateful!
I cannot wait to see what McMaster has in store for us in book three and how she continues to build and develop this world while also writing intriguing characters and A+ romances.