A coldly powerful duchess finds herself distracted from political machinations by the mischievously handsome heir to a dukedom.
McMaster (Forged by Desire, 2014, etc.) returns to her London Steampunk series with a paranormal romance set in Victorian London. Aramina ''Mina'' Duvall, the Duchess of Casavian, has gained a reputation for icy elegance, with no friends, no surviving family, and only a few discreet lovers, with whom she holds the reins. But Leo Barrons, secretly illegitimate but publicly the heir to the Duke of Caine, is determined to crack her perfect facade. Both Mina and Leo are blue bloods, members of the nobility who have been infected with the craving virus. The virus gives them supernatural strength and agility and a craving for blood. Both Mina and Leo are secretly working to overthrow the evil prince consort, who dominates the human queen, Alexandra, who is the rightful ruler of England. Neither can afford to become romantically entangled by another member of the Council of Dukes, not while the prince consort is methodically destroying those who oppose him. When full-scale civil war erupts in the city, Leo fights alongside his blood relations, the children of his biological father. Mina is fighting for her friend the queen. But somehow, while battles rage in the city and their loved ones are being firebombed by armies of automata, Leo and Mina manage to conduct an entire courtship. This is the book’s biggest flaw—the idea that these efficient and duty-driven characters would be having fabulous sex and learning to trust each other while the people relying on them are in danger.
The steampunk technology is fun and the characters nice and spicy, but the book requires too much suspension of disbelief to be a really good read.