By Bec McMaster
Publisher: Lochaber Press
Publication Date: August 11, 2016
Series or Standalone: London Steampunk: The Blue Blood Conspiracy #1
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
When I found out there was a spinoff series to the London Steampunk series, I was excited yet also nervous. I loved the London Steampunk series so much – would the spinoff live up to my expectations? After reading Mission: Improper I think it is safe to say it the series will – and it might even surpass those expectations.
Mission: Improper kicks off the London Steampunk: The Blue Blood Conspiracy series. Three years after the revolution put the human Queen on the throne and upended the Echelon, things aren’t as perfect as they seem. While humans, mechs, verwulfen now have freedom from the tyranny of the Echelon, there are those who wish to undermine the peace. Enter the Company of Rogues, as they refer to themselves, a group of spies, scientists, and fighters working to uncover plots against the Queen that threaten to send London into chaos.
Mission: Improper is our introduction to the COR and sets up this new series perfectly. Our main characters are two character who should be very familiar to readers of the London Steampunk series. First, we have Ingrid Miller, a verwulfen who was Rosa’s right hand woman and member of the humanist movement who you may remember from Heart of Iron and My Lady Quicksilver. Then we have Caleb Byrnes, a member of the Nighthawks who you may remember from My Lady Quicksilver and Forged by Desire.
Both Ingrid and Byrnes are expert tracker and investigators. They also have a shared history between them before they join the Rogues – on a hunt a few years back Byrnes lost a bet on tracking a vampire and ended up tied up in bed naked by Ingrid only to be left there and found by his fellow Nighthawks. When they’re brought together by the Duke of Malloryn (another familiar face) to investigate the disappearance of whole neighborhoods and parties without a trace, they cannot help but butt heads.
I have to say, I loved the banter between the two of them – they both can dish it out. It helps add to the sexual tension between them that is so thick you can cut it with a knife.The romance in this book is top-notch. I literally could not wait for Byrnes and Ingrid to both admit they both wanted to jump each others bones and act on it. It was so satisfying to watch them progress from healthy rivals to something more.
I’m also shocked at how much I liked Byrnes. He’s really grew on me over the course of this book as I wasn’t sure I was going to like him based on what we saw of him in early books. He surprisingly has become one of my favorite characters in the series and seems always ready with a sarcastic comment or quip. Ingrid feels like the perfect match for him as she can keep up with him both in terms of personality and physically. I love that she’s no damsel in distress and can take care of herself and those she cares about. It was so fun watching them work together.
One thing I love about McMaster’s writing is how she’s able to weave a top notch romance into a novel with an amazing, top-notch plot. You get sexy, fulfilling romances plus these great mysteries with compelling twists and turns and characters that jump off the page. What more can you want in a book?
I loved that the new series seems to focus on the mystery of the dhampir, a project that came to light in Of Silk and Steam with the reveal of the affliction of the Duke of Caine. We learn a lot more about them in this book and also see the beginnings of a much larger plot that is going to carry the rest of the series to upset the peace. The mystery in this one kept me on the edge of my toes – I literally had no idea what was going to happen next and I loved every minute of it.
I also have to say, I love the Rogues so much and cannot wait to dive into the rest of their stories. Some of them are familiar faces, like Charlie and Kincaid, so it will be so excited to get to spend more time with them and get to know them. Another thing I love about the Rogues and this series is I get Ocean’s 8 vibes from it even though they’re not stealing anything – I think it’s more the fact of bringing together an unexpected crew with different strengths that are perfect for the task at hand.
Mission: Improper hooked me from page one and I cannot wait to see where this series goes next. I loved the original London Steampunk series and feel this has the makings to be even better in terms of romance, story and expanding on the world. I cannot wait to see how everything plays out.