Of Silk and Steam (London Steampunk, Book 5) by Bec McMaster
Enemies. Allies. Lovers.
When her beloved father was assassinated, Lady Aramina swore revenge. The man responsible is well beyond her grasp, but his dangerously seductive heir, Leo Barrons, is fair game. When Mina obtains evidence proving that Leo is illegitimate, she has the means to destroy both the killer and his son, a man who troubles her heart and tempts her body.
A woman of mystery, Mina’s long driven Leo crazy with glimpses of a fiery passion that lurks beneath her icy veneer. He knows she’s hiding something, and he’s determined to unravel her layer by silken layer. He just doesn’t expect the beautiful liar to be the key to overthrowing the corrupt prince consort… or to saving his own carefully walled-off heart.
Review: I just have to say before I start, OMG! I loved this book. I have loved the London Steampunk series from the very first chapter in Kiss of Steel, and this conclusion of the series did not disappoint.
Aramina Duvall (Duchess of Casavian) and Leo Barrons (Duke of Caine’s “son”) are from rival families. Leo has been pursuing Mina for the past 6 or so years and she has not been pleased with his attentions, believing him out to get something from her or hurt her. She wants vengeance against his father because she believes he had something to do with her father’s death so she is quite adverse to trusting Leo’s motives. The story begins with a flashback to the time when Leo first meets Mina and is attracted to her and fascinated with her. It then jumps to the present (Steampunk-Victorian England, 1880). The story is broken down into three parts: The Chase, The Betrayal, and The Tower. There are forces at work to remove the Prince Consort from the thrown and both Mina and Leo are part of those forces, though they both do not realize it, and they are working with two different groups, but with the same outcome desired. The chemistry between the two of them are wonderful. I loved watching the scenes where he flirted with her and she tried to resist his appeal. When they finally come together it is explosive.
Part 2 The Betrayal is intense; Leo believes she has betrayed him and he loses everything (or thinks he has). The Prince Consort is slowly trying to eliminate those counselors that vote against him, and Leo is on that list. The Prince Consort uses information about Leo’s birth and the fact that he isn’t actually the Duke of Caines’ biological son to remove him. He wants him executed for treason and the abused queen (who actually has all of the power, but has been beaten down throughout the years and is controlled by the Prince Consort) says to execute him. The information the Prince Consort uses Leo knows that Mina possessed. He believes she gave that information to the Prince Consort. Their interactions after this scene are emotional, but it also forces them together and it gives Mina a chance to see that maybe she does have an ally in her plans to kill the Prince Consort in Leo. When her secret humanist leadership role comes out it is totally awesome. I loved reading that scene and Leo’s reaction to the fact that they are fighting the same war.
Part 3 The Tower is a wonderful conclusion to the series. LOL, I think I have used too many “wonderful”, “loved”, and “awesome” words 😛 I just love this series and this last book doesn’t do anything that disappoints. The passionate scenes between Leo and Mina are perfect. The Prince Consort is a villain that I looked forward to seeing die and the person who makes the first fatal blow is poetic justice. When Mina confesses that she and the queen have been the ones working to eliminate him for years and that the queen is the leader of the Humanist party, the look on the Prince Consort’s face is perfect. The battle scenes are well written and the conclusion of the coupe is exactly what I wanted to happen. When Leo and Mina find each other after everything they embrace each other and have a passionate reunion and she confesses her love for him, taking the final step to being together permanently.
Favorite Quotes 1: This scene shows the cat and mouse game Leo is playing with Mina, but in this scene, Mina switches the role, or thinks she does. I call it “Prey”
Barrons didn’t bother to look at her, but she knew he was aware of her arrival. How could he not be? Tension vibrated in the air between them, an electric glide across her skin.
“You have a certain look in your eye tonight, Mina,” he murmured, his eyes half-shuttered as he surveyed the ballroom. “I feel like prey.”
He didn’t look it. Tall, hard, and lean, with his rapier sheathed at his side, he looked like the king of his own jungle. Slowly his head turned, those dark eyes locking on her. Some trick of light gave hint to the striations of his irises-not black, not truly. Hints of warmth gleamed there, the color molten chocolate. She was left at once overwhelmed and somewhat uncertain. Mina fought to regain her sense of equilibrium. She needed a damned victory tonight. Anything to take her mind off the queen’s absence.
“A ridiculous assumption.” Mina circled behind him. Barrons’s head turned, tracking her movements as she trailed her filigreed claws over the back of his coat. “How could I ever harm you?”
“You seem to be lumping me with the rest of those addlepated fools who think you’re a pretty little symbol.” Turning, he caught her wrist, slowly lifting her clawed fingers to his lips. He never took his eyes off her as he pressed a kiss to the inside of her wrist, just over her pulse. The gentlest of touches, a ghostly caress. For a debutante, this would be considered a sign that he intended to pursue her for a thrall contract. “I know just how dangerous you can be, and just how clever your little ruse in the Council chambers is.”
Shock froze her. “Ruse?”
“You vote like a pendulum, swinging one way and then the other, placating the prince consort just enough to appease him on items that matter little to you. But when it comes to something that appeals to your heart- or whatever game you’re running- you don’t back down. No one else has quite figured it out yet. They all think you’re some puppet, dancing to his tune.”
He’d guessed half of it. It was extraordinary- and proved just how closely he’d been watching her.
Dangerous. If anyone realized the game she and the queen were playing, they’d both be destroyed.
Favorite Quotes 2: This scene is an intense scene after he believes she betrayed him and his world fell apart and he is now a wanted man for “treason”. He has her tied to a chair and at his mercy (who wouldn’t want that!), so I call this scene “The Chair”
“…Do you want to know the damnable truth, Duches? No matter how much I want to walk away, to let you leave, I can’t do it.” His hand caught her throat, tilting her head and pining her there, balanced on the edge of the precipice. Black eyes blazed in the center of her vision. “You enthrall me. I feel my heart beating and it’s all you, you, you.”
You. Mina’s eyes shot wide as his face lowered. That dangerous mouth closed over hers again, tongue thrusting past her lips and teeth, forcing the kiss upon her.
The thin veneer of civility washed away, drowning her in a man that was more primal than rational. This…this was what the craving meant, what lust meant. This was the choice he’d offered, one that she hadn’t anticipated.
And one that undid her.
Yes. She made that choice again, with her whole body screaming the word. Past time for games, for fear. Tiptoeing around each other for years, because maybe a part of her had always known it would be like this. Consumed. Stripped bare. All that she was, offered up to him on a platter.
Then he was coming up for air, breathing hard. “I hate the hold you have on me.”
Favorite Quotes 3: This scene is a poignant one between Leo and Mina where Mina is trying to open up to him. I call it “Mina”.
“I like it when you call me ‘Mina’,” she admitted. “It drove me insane at first that would dare, but…I miss it. You’re the only one who does, did you know that? The only one with the courage to do so. You always push me. Always. And sometimes I’m not ready to be pushed. Sometimes it scares me that you get under my skin the way you do.” She took a shaky breath, hands curling in his shirt. “You frighten me, but I’m trying…I’m trying to stop pushing you away. It’s not easy for me.”
With her hair tumbled down around her shoulders and her hands clinging to his shirt, she looked far younger than she ever had.
He’d never, ever expected her to yield. But she had. And that was all he’d been asking for, really, for her to meet him halfway. Halfway to…whatever the hell this was.