By Bec McMaster
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Series or Standalone: London Steampunk #5
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
Hard to believe it, but we’re at the conclusion of the London Steampunk series! And this might be the book I’ve been waiting for the most as I’ve been dying to get Barrons story since we met him in book one. He’s been such an intriguing secondary character and I was so excited to dive into this book.
And boy, does this book deliver! All the buildup from the previous books in a series comes to a head in this book. Not only do we have a great romance, but we finally get full on rebellion after seeing it simmer under the surface over the last four books.
Of Silk and Steam focuses on Leo Barrons, the Duke of Caine’s son, and Lady Aramina (Mina), the Duchess of Casavian. Mina is the only female blue blood in the Echelon, and the only woman on the Council of Dukes. She’s sworn revenge on Barrons, as she believes his father killed hers. When she finds evidence that Barrons is illegitimate, she knows she can use it to destroy him. However, in the end, she can’t force herself to share the information, but it somehow still ends up in the hands of the prince consort and a price is placed on Barrons head. Barrons escapes to Whitechapel where he and his allies including Blade, the Devil of Whitechapel, plan to take on the Echelon once and for all. Meanwhile, Mina has had her own plan in place with the Queen to try to take down the prince consort for years, but can she trust Barrons with the truth?
Y’all, this book felt like it was non-stop action. I feel like I sped through reading it as I was hooked from page one. All the politics and plots finally bear fruit as we get the confrontation between the Echelon and those who they oppress – the humanists, the mechs, the rookeries, the verwulfens and all our previous couples. We literally have an all out war in this one and the stakes couldn’t be higher. The prince consort has fully tipped over the edge and is desperate to do whatever it takes to hold on to power. This was everything I wanted the conclusion of the series to be. If we didn’t have a big confrontation and fight, I would have been angry as you could feel the anger and dissatisfaction with the status quo building and building. I couldn’t have been happier with how this wrapped up the overarching series narrative.
Now onto some of the specific of this book. I really loved getting Barrons and Mina’s story. I’ve been fascinated by both these characters this whole series and knew them getting together was going to be explosive. Mina in particular is such an interesting character as she’s had to fight tooth and nail for all the power she’s earned as woman are not allowed to be infected with the craving virus, though her father disregarded that notion. She’s fought her way to becoming one of the most powerful members on the Council, and a close confidante of the queen. Little does anyone suspect, she’s also been playing a long game to take down the prince consort. Driven by her long-standing friendship with the Queen and angry at the terrible way he treats her, Mina has secretly been funding the humanist movement for years. It was so fun to see some of the mysteries from earlier on in the series come together and learn it was Mina behind it.
Now, the romance. I freaking loved the tension between Barrons and Mina. Barrons has clearly always been intrigued and attracted to Mina, yet Mina doesn’t let anyone close to her, let alone him. She thinks his father murdered his and is willing to take him down. However, as she gets to know him and spend more time with him, she can’t bring herself to destroy him. The push and pull between the two of them was great and for once, I felt like it was the woman who was the one with the barriers and hesitation. Barrons was in but Mina was slow to let down her walls and let him in. She doesn’t want to give up her hard fought independence, and believes she’s better off alone. It was great to see her realize that trusting someone is a weakness and that it can actually be a strength. I love how McMaster manages to weave in a great romance amongst all the action and mysteries come to bear in the plot. It truly takes skill to make me feel invested in all aspects of the story.
I also loved finally learning more about what the heck is going on with Leo’s “father” the Duke of Caine. I feel like there is so much more to dig into about what happened with him and project dhampir. Luckily, there is a spinoff series and I’m hoping we will learn more about that in that series!
I’m so sad this series is over, but this was an epic conclusion that was everything I wanted and more. A thrilling conclusion to a fascinating series that I could not put down. I’m so glad there is a spinoff series as I’m not ready to let go of this world yet and I cannot see what sort of plots and mysteries McMaster cooks up next and how she elaborates on the world.
I seriously cannot recommend this series enough – it’s a new personal favorite! I’m literally hooked. Once I finish the London Steampunk: Blue Blood Conspiracy series, I really want to dive into some of McMaster’s other works as she does a great job with world building and blending together intriguing plots with fascinating characters and superb romances. I cannot wait to see what else she has written!