Kiss of Steel
Fleeing from the Blue Blooded Echelon, Honoria Todd tries to mask her identity enough to stay free but not so much that she can't make an honorable living. That's hard to do when she's reduced to living in Whitechapel. She works in town as a tutor to young women who want to move up into the Echelon. But the minute her employer finds out where she lives, she'll be let go. Though her sister works as a seamstress, they don't earn enough to keep a roof over their heads, food on their table and a doctor for their ill brother. She's a woman stuck between a rock and a hard place and that place is Blade, the rogue Blue Blood who runs Whitechapel.
Blade has his own problems. He's a rogue Blue Blood, infected by a virus by one of the Echelon. He lives on the blood of his thralls, whose debt of loyalty insures his safety and their own. As a rogue, his enemies are any human crime lords who want his territory in Whitechapel and the Echelon. The humans he can handle but the Echelon takes a deft hand of control, threat and balls. He's got all three. What he doesn't have is much longer before he turns vampire. When that happens, everyone will turn against him and hunt him till he's dead. Turning vampire is inevitable so he checks his blood levels every day. When it reaches the point where he has no choice, he, or one of his trusted lieutenants, will make sure he doesn't turn.
His blood levels are almost there when he meets Honoria Todd face to face. There's something about the chit that compels him. He doesn't want to admit that she might be his soul mate but he can't keep her at arm's length. Honoria, too, doesn't want to admit that she's attracted to Blade. She doesn't want anything to do with any Blue Blood. But the way he develops trust between his thralls and confidants makes her see him as something more than just a blood sucker.
I'm not a Steampunk expert but I did enjoy the setting of early 1800's England and the descriptions were handled skillfully. The characters were superb and the writing excellent. Overall, this book was a FANTASTIC read. I loved every word, every nuance, every twist of the plot. Ms. McMaster has created an intoxicating read that is hard to put down. I highly, HIGHLY, recommend it.