In Victorian London, if you’re not a blue blood of the Echelon then you’re nothing at all. The Great Houses rule the city with an iron fist, imposing their strict ‘blood taxes’ on the nation, and the Queen is merely a puppet on a string…
Lena Todd makes the perfect spy. Nobody suspects the flirtatious debutante could be a sympathizer for the humanist movement haunting London’s vicious blue blood elite. Not even the ruthless Will Carver, the one man she can’t twist around her little finger, and the one man whose kiss she can’t forget…
Stricken with the loupe and considered little more than a slave-without-a-collar to the blue bloods, Will wants nothing to do with the Echelon or the dangerous beauty who drives him to the very edge of control. But when he finds a coded letter on Lena—a code that matches one he saw on a fire-bombing suspect—he realizes she’s in trouble. To protect her, he must seduce the truth from her.
With the humanists looking to start a war with the Echelon, Lena and Will must race against time—and an automaton army—to stop the humanist plot before it’s too late. But as they fight to save a city on the brink of revolution, the greatest danger might just be to their hearts…
Set in 1879 England, Heart of Iron is the second novel in the London Steampunk series and is seen through the eyes of Lena Todd, and Will Carver. Heart of Iron picks up 3 years after the end of Kiss of Steel. Things have definitely changed for 20-year old Lena Todd, the younger sister of Honoria.
She left Whitechapel to once again find her own way into the world of the Echelon where Blue Bloods rule, and humans are slaves to their whims. Echelon is the place where her family had been before their father's unfortunate demise and subsequent escape into a dangerous land. Thanks to her guardian/brother Leo Barrons, Lena has access to the Echelon's most important secrets which she uses as a spy for the Humanist movement. The very movement that is trying to get rid of the Blue Bloods that rule London, while giving back basic human rights to the human population.
Often times throughout Heart of Iron, I found myself losing interest in Lena's desire as a debutante to lure a blue bloods into a thrall contract which would then give her safety, and wealth. I asked myself why this successful designer of clockwork toys would allow herself to be used by both the blue bloods, and the Humanist movement without asking important questions. Why would she keep secrets from those who could help her, IE Blade, and Honoria, and especially Will Carver.
Lena couldn't be any different from her older sister Honoria who still fights to find a cure for the craving and loupe viruses. It wasn't until she really "changed" towards the end of the story, that Lena became much more than a scared, timid girl who was afraid of having her reputation ruined and future desires crushed by being caught in a compromising position. It was also at that point that McMaster finally unleashes her bodice ripping sexcapades that she has become famous for.
Then, there is Will Carver, the man with the gruff exterior who has been attracted to Lena like a moth to the flame for some time now. Being a verwulfen, Will can't be mated to a human, and that fact causes him nothing but consternation when he is around Lena. Will is still Blade's second in command, and the one known as The Beast who can scare the white off rice. Unlike Lena, he hasn't had the kind of life that others have dreamed of. Will carries a whole lot of anger within him and it doesn't really help that Lena drives his desires right past his breaking point.
The world building is once again key to the enjoyment of this series. Although steeped in a world filled with steampunk, it isn't overly done to the point of saturation, or having to search Google in order to figure out what a term actually means. McMaster also adds in new characters, including the Scandinavians verwulfen clans (Magnus, Astrid, and Eric) and a more in-depth look into the loupe virus affects on a human body.
Yes, I did in fact, read My Lady Quicksilver (London Steampunk # 3) first before remembering that I didn't read Heart of Iron. Quicksilver makes so much more sense now that missing pieces have been revealed. This series is like building blocks. You have the initial bricks with Blade and Honoria in Kiss of Steel. That story featured Lena and Will as secondary characters who had a brief kiss that pushed Lena into returning to the Echelon.
In Heart of Iron, the roles have been reversed. It is now Lena and Will who get their chance to shine as primary characters, while Blade and Honoria have a little brightness coming into their lives. A fact, I admit, I truly like. Somethings haven't really changed for other characters either. Leo is still an important figure and apparently will have his own book soon. Rip and Esme from the Tarnished Knight novella also make an appearance. And, just for fun, McMaster adds Sir Jasper Lynch (Nighthawk) and Rosalind Fairchild aka Mercury (Humanist) who are primary characters in the My Lady Quicksilver story.
So you see my friends, everything connects in this series, and not reading one book, can cause problems in regards to events that apparently are leading to something big between the Humanists and Echelon. McMaster has kind of shown her hand in a way. When she introduces certain secondary characters, you know that they will eventually have their own novel. It happened with Lena & Will. It also happened to Lynch and Rosalind. So, please don't be a dunderhead like me, and read ahead, or skip a book in this series! You'll thank me later!
I liked Heart of Iron a bit more than Quicksilver because it wasn't filled with erotic sexual scenes. I like action folks. I like to watch characters grow, while solving problems, and working together to defeat the villainous bastards who fill the world of the Echelon. I like reading about the struggles characters are forced to face in order to find true love. It will be interesting to see if Blade, Honoria, Will, or Lena appear in any other novels in this series. I truly do hope so.
Author - Bec McMaster
Title - Heart of Iron
Series - London Steampunk # 2
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Released - May 7, 2013
Genre: Steampunk, Romance
Format: Paperback, 437 pages