Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Kiss of Steel by Bec McMasterKiss of Steel by Bec McMaster
Series: London Steampunk #1
Published by Tantor Audio on May 13, 2013
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

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.

In my earlier days as a book blogger I remember Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster being one of the first steampunk stories I’d ever read, the other being Kate Locke’s series – Immortal Empire. I seriously fell in love with the world that McMaster created and the paranormal elements she molded to fit in with everything. When I saw the opportunity to listen to the audio version on McMaster’s entire London Steampunk series with Alison Larkin narrating, I knew that I had to experience this series in this format – the sample I listened to hooked me as well.

As always whenever you are revisiting a series in another format you are going to experience some inconsistencies simply because when you read it for yourself you imagine how certain characters sound, look, and the way they carry themselves. In listening to Kiss of Steel with Larkin’s narration behind it I did find myself not really liking her portrayal of Blade’s voice. Now the interpretation could be completely wrong on my part because I have no idea how his English accent was supposed to sound, but I envisioned him with a deeper voice. I digress, Larkin did an amazing job with everything and everyone except for Blade’s character.

The story of Kiss of Steel was also something that drew me in immediately. Yeah there are vampires within Kiss of Steel, which have been included in paranormal stories for decades upon decades, but the way that McMaster penned the challenges, hierarchy, and world elements within Kiss of Steel sets it apart from other paranormal/steampunk stories you will ever read.

Since I never did get pass Kiss of Steel when I was going through this series the first time I’m super excited to see how the world McMaster created expands and changes as the series goes on, plus I want to see how the series transitions into the spin-off series The Blue Blood Conspiracy.

 

 

Lacybourne Manor by Kristen Ashley

Lacybourne Manor by Kristen AshleyLacybourne Manor by Kristen Ashley
Published by Self Published on August 5, 2011
Pages: 543 pages
Format: Kindle
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
four-stars

In 1522, the very night they were wed, Royce Morgan and his new bride, Beatrice Godwin, were murdered on their way home to Lacybourne Manor. After the cruel deed was done, a local witch came across their bodies, witnessing firsthand the tragedy of star-crossed lovers. Vowing that Royce and Beatrice would someday uncross those stars, using magic mixed with murder as well as true love, she linked their spirits together with hers (because someone had to protect them) forever… or until their reincarnated souls find happily ever after.

Now arrogant, forbidding Colin Morgan lives at Lacybourne, knowing, from lore (as well as the portraits of Royce and Beatrice that hang in Lacybourne’s hall and the small fact that he looks exactly like Royce Morgan), that he is the reincarnated soul of his ancestor. One stormy night, flighty, free-spirited, scarily kind-hearted Sibyl Godwin comes to Lacybourne and it doesn’t escape Colin’s notice that Sibyl is the spitting image of Beatrice. However murder, magic, a warrior’s heart beating in a modern man’s chest, a woman bent on doing good deeds even if they get her into loads of trouble, a good witch whose family has vowed throughout the centuries to protect true love, distrust and revenge make a volatile cocktail.

This means the path to happily ever after is paved with tranquiliser darts, pensioners on a rampage, Sibyl’s bad morning moods, heartbreaking misunderstandings and all kinds of magic, good… and bad.

The drama that could be read from Lacybourne Manor by Kristen Ashley’s synopsis had me hooked….immediately. With the way that Kristen Ashley pens her stories I knew to expect some serious anger towards one or both of the main characters and their possible pigheadedness, but I would ultimately fall in love with everything Lacybourne Manor had to offer.

Colin and Sybil were equally delightful to read about, I couldn’t have asked for a better hero and heroine for Lacybourne Manor. The way things began and then worked itself out in the end was truly magical and in no way predictable. I was really expecting to loath finishing this story because of a situation that took place within its pages that I felt soured the story for me only to have to bow down to the greatest of Ashley’s pen because she blew my mind once again with how she orchestrated this sticky situation fabulously.

The mystery, and going back and forth between the past and present and sometimes a place in-between was superbly done. I loved the glimpses of the original ancestors of Colin and Sybil, Royce and Beatrice, that we were able to see, both in contrast and in clarity to Royce and Beatrice’s situation and Colin and Sybil’s. The other thing I loved about Lacybourne Manor was the fact that there was a senior citizen facility filled with some amazing elderly characters that added so much life and balance to this story.

Now that I’ve read the first two stories in Ashley’s Ghost and Reincarnation series I feel so much better about going into Penmort Castle, and I feel like I’ve gotten a better sense of the series. Lacybourne Manor simply was amazing.

About Kristen Ashley

Kristen Ashley was born in Gary, Indiana, USA. She nearly killed her mother and herself making it into the world, seeing as she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (already attempting to accessorise and she hadn’t taken her first breath!).

Kristen grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana but has lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multi-generational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland and existed amongst the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched).

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

What A Dragon Should Know by G.A. Aiken

What A Dragon Should Know by G.A. AikenWhat A Dragon Should Know by G.A. Aiken
Series: Dragon Kin #3
Published by Zebra on September 1, 2009
Pages: 460 pages
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
five-stars

Attraction that’s off the scale…

Only for those I love would I traipse into the merciless Northlands to risk life, limb, and my exquisite beauty. But do they appreciate it? Do they say, “Gwenvael the Handsome, you are the best among us—the most loved of all dragons?” No! For centuries my family has refused to acknowledge my magnificence as well as my innate humility. Yet for them, and because I am so chivalrous, I will brave the worst this land has to offer.

So here I stand, waiting to broker an alliance with the one the Northlanders call The Beast. A being so fearful, the greatest warriors will only whisper its name. Yet I, Gwenvael, will courageously face down this terrifying…woman? It turns out the Beast, a.k.a. Dagmar Reinholdt, is a woman—one with steel-gray eyes and a shocking disregard for my good looks. Beneath her plain robes and prim spectacles lies a sensual creature waiting to be unleashed. Who better than a dragon to thaw out that icy demeanor?

And who better than a beast to finally tame a mighty dragon’s heart?

What A Dragon Should Know was so unexpectedly amazing I seriously don’t know what to do with myself!

Never would I have thought that Gwenvael’s story would be the one that would entertain me on all cylinders. In the previous stories from the Dragon Kin series Gwenvael was a character that I just didn’t take that seriously because of his jokester attitude and nonchalant ways. Even though I didn’t give much head space to Gwenvael something always told me to watch out for him when it came time for his own story. Even with that warning I never could’ve imagined his story unfolding like What A Dragon Should Know did.

What A Dragon Should Know gave new life to the Dragon Kin series (I’ll probably be saying that with each book because G.A. Aiken’s writing is superb, I saw that under her other pen name Shelly Laurenston). From the birth of growing tensions between the Lightnings and those of the Dark Plains, vengeful gods, Dagmar and Gwenvael’s romance, and Annwyl and Fearghus’ twins this story was explosive. The pacing of the story, the character development, the situations all the characters found themselves in, the romance, and actions, everything about What A Dragon Should Know was on point.

As of right now I don’t know whose story is next, maybe Eibhear, but I want to be surprised because I know that the next story will just ramp this series up even more.

Viking by Jenika Snow

Viking by Jenika SnowViking by Jenika Snow
Series: A Real Man #9
Published by Self Published on January 28, 2017
Pages: 87 pages
Format: Kindle
Source: Purchased
two-half-stars

She’ll be his greatest conquest.

INGRID

I should have been afraid of him, the brutal man with the violence covering him and blood on his face. But he’d saved me from a fate worse than death. He was a Viking, a man who took what he wanted because he could, because no one dared to cross him, to go against him. And he claimed me. I was his now, and I didn’t want to fight that.

GUNNAR

From the moment I saw Ingrid I knew I wanted her as mine, as my wife, the future mother of my children. I’ll go to any lengths to keep her by my side, to make her see I’m not letting her go. I may give her the option to leave, to find her own way, but the truth is I would follow her to the ends of the earth to keep her close. I’m a Viking, a savage, dangerous and violent. I don’t give up when I see something I want. I’ve been searching for Ingrid my whole life; I just didn’t realize it until I looked into her blue eyes. She will be mine. No matter what.

Ugh! These synopsis to Jenika Snow’s books are so enticing! The synopsis of Viking had everything I love about an insta love story and a historical romance, when I read the synopsis I was done for. Sadly, even with my intentions and hopes of really liking the story of Viking things just didn’t work out that way.

As I was reading Viking things just weren’t adding up. What I mean is that when something would be said it would later have been changed further into the story. Maybe I’m mistaken or maybe I just wasn’t following the story closely enough but my confusion radar was pinging all over the place.

Since Viking is the their A Real Men book I’ve read by Snow I feel that what I’m about to say has been well researched. From these stories there seems to be a template or formula used in their creation where if x (the hero does this) + y (the heroine should respond like this) = (it should very well equal a HEA), and this alone stifles any originality. I really thought that Viking would be somewhat different than the other two stories I’ve read in this series because it was a historical romance but I was wrong. For example, Gunnar would use the same saying that I had read from the ninth story in this series, Feral, and if I thought it was irritating in Feral it was even more when I read them again in Viking.

Maybe my expectations were a little high with Viking, I don’t know but I might just take a vacy from Snow’s story for now.

Dragon On Top by G.A. Aiken

Dragon On Top by G.A. AikenDragon On Top by G.A. Aiken
Series: Dragon Kin #0.4
Published by Zebra on October 27, 2015
Pages: 144 pages
Format: Kindle
Source: Purchased
four-stars

Try a little dragon tenderness.

I am Ghleanna the Decimator. I am a warrior. A soldier. I know no fear. No pain. No mercy. I do, however, know acute embarrassment! How could I not after getting dumped by a bastard dragon in front of my own troops? So I tuck tail and return to my cave, drowning my sorrows in ale—as is my family’s way. But instead of leaving me to my misery, I’ve been summoned to the Dragon Queen’s court.

As if my life wasn’t pathetic enough, Her Majesty now has me escorting the highborn Bram the Merciful through dangerous territories—not exactly the best use of my military training. And just so he can negotiate with enemy dragons instead of battling them? Honestly, what has my world come to? Then again…Bram is quite easy on the eyes. And the perfect distraction for what ails me. Perhaps I’m looking at all this the wrong way. Maybe there is a place for a little “mercy” in my life…

I would’ve never thought that Dragon on Top – Ghelenna’s story (sister of Berclack – father of Fearghus, Gwenvael, Briec, and Eibhear) – would’ve been the one that I favored most out of theses novellas within the Dragon Kin series. Not only her character but Bram’s character shocked me as well. These two characters placed in the same book together was perfection!

I had previously read Rhiannon and Berclack’s story at the end of Dragon Actually, but it was great to read about the parents of Fearghus, Gwenvael, Briec, and Ebihear in Dragon on Top. The whole broad of Aileen the Wicked are so awesome both as warriors and characters that being able to read about them in each installment is always a treat.

Dragon on Top didn’t just tell a hilarious and one of a kind romance between Ghleanna and Bram, but further set the stage for the full length books that were to come afterwards. Ghleanna may be the dominant one out of their relationship but behind closed doors she trusts Bram enough to allow him free reign, and oh does he take advantage lol.

Each novella installment has given us a deeper glimpse into this vast world that G.A. Aiken has created. We’ve learned about the Lightnings (savages of the Northland) in Can’t Get Enough, we learned about the Pernaddun (women dragon warriors) in A Tale of Two Dragons, and in Dragon on Top we learned about the Fin (the sea dragons).

Now that I’m all caught up, and with the hint that was dropped about Gwenvael at the end of Dragon on Top I am excited to see all that his story has to offer.