Did you know steampunk romance is a genre? I didn’t know until very recently and I am floored that it took me so long to discover such a fantastic genre (plus, all of the puns that can result from one word: steam). Yet I’m so glad I did, simply because I eventually stumbled upon Australian author Bec McMaster and her London Steampunk series, currently consisting of five books. Let’s see if I can convert some other souls into reading her fantastic work with this review. 🙂
My Lady Quicksilver is the third book in the series. The series begins with Kiss of Steel, which, let me tell you, I read in one sitting, it was that good. I was so drawn into the world–London, complete with vampires and werewolves with a lovely (and deadly and sexy) twist to the canon, not to mention great political structure and drama that interested me almost as much as the romance plot did. I also loved the time period and how seamlessly the mech technology blended in with traditionally historic London. The characters are lively and complex. The women are strong and vulnerable, a contrast which I particularly enjoy. The men are desirable and haunted. Pairing these types of characters together, not to mention adding in the fascinating world and the brilliant banter, and it is hard not to fall in love with these books. And hard not to read them in one sitting. I had checked out the second book in the series, Heart of Iron, at the same time I did Kiss of Steel, so I quickly moved on from the first to the next, finishing Heart of Iron in two evenings.
Then, the real drama started.
I went to check out My Lady Quicksilver from the library, eager to read about the Captain of the Nighthawks and his pursuit of Mercury. Except the library didn’t have it. Nor did they have Forged by Desire. They did have the latest–and fifth–book of the series, Of Steam and Silk, yet I couldn’t just jump two books. I’d be missing too much. So, the next weekend, I went to a used bookstore and searched there. No luck. Determined (as I was also looking for another book), I went to Barnes and Noble. Surely, they couldn’t fail me as well.
Spoiler: they did.
Finally, I resorted to my fail safe: ThriftBooks. And, to avoid this predicament again, I ordered the third, fourth and fifth book of the series, so that when I finally got them, there would be no frantic searching for the next book. I could power through and read to my hearts content, stress free. A month later and they arrived. Finally, I could return back to the steampunk world that had captivated me so thoroughly and figure out what happened between Lynch and Mercury.
Of course, I’m not going to tell you what happened. You just have to read it for yourself. 😛
But here’s why you should read it (and by it, I mean this series. Definitely start with Kiss of Steel): this isn’t “just” a romance novel. I’m not an expert in the genre nor have I read a ton of romance. But some of the romance I have been exposed to–and still enjoyed, despite what I’m about to say–is predictable and the plot impossible without the romance factor. That doesn’t make it bad, by any means. But when you find a series that does more than that, like McMaster’s does, then that series stands out a bit more, resonates with you a bit more and you crave to read just a bit more. My Lady Quicksilver–similarly to the previous books in the series–stands out as a romance novel because there is more going on besides “simply” romance. There are political gambits and intrigue. There are twists that aren’t predictable. There is a believable world with fascinating technology and characters that you can relate to, yet also be stunned by. Take out the romance and you still have a compelling story.
But add in the romance and you get something greater.
I won’t drone on about how much I love the romance. Despite the strong, various plotlines, it is the romance plotline that keeps me up until three a.m., inevitably finishing the book within 24 hours of starting it. The pace is quick and the writing crisp, which makes this feat even easier to accomplish and this book even harder to put down. And because I can always relate to the female protagonist in some fashion, when I’m reading the steamier scenes, I can’t help but get a certain amount of chills; feel a certain amount of breathlessness, as she slowly falls in love. My top scene in My Lady Quicksilver involved a chessboard, a game of truths and buttons. And that’s all I’m going to reveal about that. 😉
I know my reviews are unorthodox, because they don’t break down the aspects that are great and the aspects that could improve within a book. They don’t spell out the plot and the cast of characters and have large print to warn against the spoilers looming in the next paragraph. Instead, my reviews describe the experience I had reading the book and the reasons why I felt that way. For My Lady Quicksilver, I got chills, often. I chuckled at the banter, smiled at the quirks and got giddy at the cameos of characters from other books. By the end, I was surprised by some characters and grew more fond of others (in particular, I was very excited when I called the next couple to be highlighted in Forged by Desire). I also was impressed by the plot development regarding the political unrest between the humanists and the Echelon. Some of the results were quite…gruesome. And I loved that.
So if any of that sounds interesting to you, I suggest you give McMaster’s series a look up and a consideration. Though I am new to the steampunk romance genre, I think this series will stay as one of my top favorites. I hope you all give it a try and enjoy it, too! 🙂