Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Review: Kiss of Steel (London Steampunk, #1)


Author: Bec McMaster
Narrator: Alison Larkin
Series: London Steampunk, #1
Released: May 13th 2013
Publisher: Tantor Media
Lenght: 11 hrs and 35 mins
Buy: Audible

Most people avoid the dreaded Whitechapel district. For Honoria Todd, it's the last safe haven. But at what price?Blade is known as the master of the rookeries—no one dares cross him. It's been said he faced down the Echelon's army single-handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood-craving he's been quicker, stronger, almost immortal.When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She's so…innocent. He doesn't see her backbone of steel—or that she could be the very salvation he's been seeking.
A quick note: This is not Tantor Media’s cover for Kiss of Steel, but their cover is so nondescript that I had to use the print one for my review. I apologize.

Sometimes, a girl just needs some steamy romance in her life, even if it is of the paper (or well, audio) variety. A few days ago, I found myself in desperate need of just that – a hot, romantic steampunk read: part action, part interesting world and three parts swoon-worthy love story. With Kiss of Steel, that’s exactly what I got.

McMaster created a rather impressive world, one strong enough to be the foundation for a lengthy series, if necessary. Although steampunk is not her strong suit, the paranormal elements are strong, fairly original and convincing. The social structure is pretty standard, with blue bloods (not quite vampires, but close enough) pulling all the strings.

Now, Kiss of Steel may be many things, but steampunk it is not. Honestly, one drone does not a steampunk novel make! If I were to determine the genre and be nitpicky about it, I’d say Kiss of Steel is paranormal romance in a historical setting with minor elements of stempunk. Minor elements! As a huge fan of the genre, I dislike being misled in such a way. I don’t mind historical romances or bodice rippers, but I at least like to know what to expect.

Honoria Todd is had the potential to make this a fabulous read, but she, as the protagonist, ended up disappointing me severely. By showing admirable strength and character at certain moments, she gave me hope that she could be more than just an archetypal romance heroines, but each time, she would just slip into the usual patterns, making the disappointment that followed much more bitter.

Unlike Honoria, Blade is the shining star of this novel, a memorable and fascinating character, thought through to the finest detail. He too had more than a few characteristics of your typical paranormal romance hero – an awful reputation, the kindest of hearts and an extremely tortured past – but a few well placed details made him stand out in a way that simply didn’t extend to Honor.

Clever use of a dialect can easily turn a book from good to excellent. McMaster did such a fantastic job with Blade’s speech, telling us so much about his past and present with nothing more than the way he spoke. I admire authors who dare to try this. Admittedly, I’ve seen review complain about the Blade’s Cockney dialect in writing, but since I listened to the book and the narrator did such a fantastic job with it, I can’t really comment on that part, nor do I have a single objection on how it was done.

While the narrator, Alison Larkin, did an excellent job with Blade and Honoria, her secondary characters’ voices were positively dreadful – nasal, all alike and extremely irritating. With them, she gave the impression of not caring in the least, which ruined the final scene when most of them were present.

I will continue the series eventually, but this time I’ll know exactly what I’m getting myself into.


24 comments:

  1. I hate when books are described as steampunk and the whole of the steampunk atmosphere/lore boils down to one or two gadgets and maybe a clockwork something or other thrown in. It happens all too often! I also don't mind a historical/paranormal bodice ripper, but I like to know that going in. Blade sounds like a character I would like, and I'm glad to hear his dialect helped give you a sense of his personality. I hate when a narrator's secondary characters all sound the same. It's confusing and it seems like they either don't care or can't hack it. Either way they shouldn't be narrating a book with many characters. Thanks for your lovely, honest review! I'm not sure this one is for me, but I'll wait to see what you think of the sequels before judging completely.

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  2. I have such a hard time with audiobooks... I can get put off too easily with the narrator and I tend to keep on thinking "I could be getting through this much faster if I was reading!".

    Sounds like this book was quite ok even if it was a bit misleading with the steampunk label. I guess some times people add a few extra labels to appear in more categories in places like amazon, maybe?

    Great review, Maja!

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  3. This one is new to me! I haven't heard of it. Only some issues here worry me. I think that main character would disappoint me too and maybe annoy me from time to time. Also steapumk part of this book doesn't sound appealing. Great honest review, Maja :)

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  4. I don't think that I would be able to take nasal voices seriously at all! I'm glad that you were able to enjoy this book Maja, despite it only having a few elements on steampunk in it. I hope the rest of the series continues on strong for you! Lovely review!

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  5. I'm glad I read this review before picking up thinking it was a steampunk book! I hate it when they mislead us with these things!

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  6. Ah Maja! You're always reading these wonderful sounding adult novels. It's such a shame that this one only had minor elements of steampunk. I would be annoyed to be mislead as well. I'm happy that you liked it overall though. Lovely review. :)

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  7. You're definitely not being nitpicky. To labeled steampunk, the book needs to actually be, yanno, steampunk-y. One drone is just a crazy scientist's project. This this one is a maybe for me...

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  8. I'm in the mood for a steamy, but kick-ass, read so I might just pick this up. It has its fair share of flaws, but I think if I go in with altered expectations thanks to your review, I'll wind up enjoying it. I guess we'll see. Fantastic review, Maja!

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  9. I have seen this a lot lately in books labeled as steampunk sadly. Overall though this sounds like you got a great romance if nothing else and Blade sounds like someone I want to meet eventually!

    Great honest review Maja. :D

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  10. I agree Maja, sometimes a steamy romance is just what I need as a break from some of the YA angst!!! I'm with you though, when I read I like to know what I'm getting into from the beginning, so it's always a touch frustrating for me when the blurb or the genre classification are misleading. That being said, I'm glad you so enjoyed Blade, I think I would be a fan as well. I'm kind of interested to see what his accent is like in print now too:) Beautiful review!

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  11. Interesting. I think I have a copy of this book on my kindle. Sorry it was a bit of disappointment, at least you came away with something thought! I am a little sad that there is genre misleadings in here, but I guess it could happen. I did really think this was steampunk as well. But, I love my paranormal/historical romances anyway <3

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  12. I hate when books mislead you to believe one thing and it's actually another which is pretty much why I've stopped reading the panel of the book's description. Despite the book's flaws, I'm glad you enjoyed it enough. Not sure if it's for me though.

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  13. One day I'll have to try an audiobook, but I'l afraid to be lost. I'm ok with reading English and writing it but not sure about listen to it... So a friend offered me this one a while ago because she loved it, and I confess I didn't expect much when I read it and I loved it at the end. One day I'll have to try book 2 to see how it is.

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  14. It's never fun to go into a book and find it not what it was promoted to be. That's good that you still enjoyed a lot of it, despite that though!

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  15. Gah, I hate these watered down versions of steampunk. So many books disappoint me with this. The fact that it uses the world steampunk makes me mad, it would be better to label it historical romantic suspense or paranormal. Lovely review Maja :)

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  16. I like the sound of how memorable Blade sounds

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  17. This doesn't sound like it will please many steampunk fans. I really wish I could listen to audio books but my mind just wonders when I do. However romance/erotica on audio kind of scares me, I have a feeling that could get awkward!

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  18. Hm steampunk as audio, I wonder how that would work for me

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  19. I hate it when a book is advertised as X genre and it ends up being something else. That happens very often with steampunk books, I've noticed.. Nonetheless, I like the overall sound of this book :)

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  20. Oh! I'm so glad to know that it is steampunk light. I would have been very disappointed as well because I also like that genre. I might have to try it in audio since you like the narration. Might make up for the characters lack.

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  21. Dang it. I was intrigued by this one and now I am so disappointed there is practically no steampunk, that makes it a fail for me!

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  22. I'm glad that you clarify that this really isn't steampunk. That's okay with me, I like historical paranormal romance. I'm curious to see what I think of it when reading instead of listening. I have a copy and one of these days I shall read it!

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  23. I think knowing this is not really steampunk will help me enjoy it more. I like that the author made the dialect authentic because that can really ruin a historical romance for me. I'm always in need of "three parts swoon-worthy love story." Sign me up!

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  24. Okay, so I don't like surprises (or disappointment in this case) in my reads, I'd like to know beforehand what I'm getting into. I wouldn't have read this book as a steampunk (not into that genre) but now that you mentioned it's more historical and PNR, I really want to give it a try! Honoria might not be the best heroines, but I like that Slade made the story worth it. Thanks for sharing, Maja! Great review :)

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