Warning: contains spoilers for book one
Heart of Iron starts a few years following the end of Heart of Steel with Honoria happily married to Blade, brother Charley safe in the care of the newlyweds and Lena living with their secret half brother Leo in the Echelon. Following a daring kiss by Lena at the end of book one Will moved out of the house he shared with Blade to avoid chance meetings with the enticing Lena. Lena pretends she is happy with this turn of events as it allows her to pursue a contract as a thrall to one of the noble families of vampires in the Echolen. Lena is being pursued by the evil vampire Cholchester who abused Lena when her and her family were in hiding in the Rookeries and is looking for any opportunity that will force her to become his thrall. While Lena attends balls and creates clockwork toys in her spare time, Will and Blade uncover a deadly plan by the humanists to start a war with the Echelon that almost claims Blade’s life. Unfortunately, Lena is embroiled in this plan and its up to Will to find a way to tempt the information from her even though he has been warned to stay away from her.
McMaster does not spend as much time describing her version of steampunk London as she did in her first novel but that is to be expected as the location of the plot was the same. This was however, one of my favourite aspects of the book and I really felt that something was missing in this second instalment. McMaster did spice up the plot by focusing the reader’s attention on the three factions – vampires, werewolves ( or verwulfen in this case) and the new baddies in the mix – the humanists. Following an attack by the humanists on the blood factories the Echelon increase blood taxes and this fuels the plight of the humans and gives greater cause to the malevolent organisation ready to stop them. McMaster introduces a few new characters within the humanists while at the same time brings in other werewolf families to bolster, not just interplay between characters, but also to explain the history between the Echelon and the werewolves. So rather than continuing with her description of steampunk London, McMaster creates a multi layered plot featuring the plot by the humanists, how Lena is involved in their dastardly scheme, the werewolf families brought in to broker peace between the Echelon and the werewolves and then Lena and Will’s growing attraction. That’s not it either! There are new twists, turns and secrets exposed as we follow the main plot which is all about Lena and Will and their budding romance. The more I think about the underlying plot the more I appreciate how subtley McMaster has created the political intrigue and that surrounds these characters and I can easily forgive that this novel vears even more towards romance than steampunk.
Needless to say lots more happens and there is a big reveal for almost every character and the evil Colchester gets more than one smackdown which is always satisfying. Blade and Honoria are also prominent and it is clear that Blade never did manage to take any of those eloqution lessons that Honoria was supposed to give him years before as cockney rhyming slang abounds. Will is a hero that I have some time for in this story and you do find out why he has been trying to avoid Lena for all this time. Overall, quite a good story with lots of plot twists but a tiny too much romance and Lena was forever being kidnapped. There is enough surprise there to have me eagerly anticipating book number 3 but I really hope they get a new model for the front cover as the male looks weirdly the same as on the cover of Kiss of Steel!
Heart of Iron is another delightful romp through steampunk London with political intrigue, humanist plots and skullduggery at every turn. There is not so much ‘will they or won’t they’ with our hero and heroine Lena and Will as there was in the first novel of this series. McMaster focuses much more on romance and sex in Heart of Iron but there is a solid plot underneath if you are willing to look for it. A solid continuation of the series although on the surface not as quite as compelling as the first novel.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
- Kiss of Steel
- Heart of Iron
- My Lady Quicksilver (Oct 2013)
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