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Melanie's Week in Review - February 22, 2015


Melanie's Week in Review - February 22, 2015


I decided to not let February get me down and fought back the SAD with some lovely books that I had been looking forward to reading. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - February 22, 2015
A big thank you goes out the lovely people at Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for approving my NetGalley request for Soulbound by Kristen Callihan. I was looking forward to finding out what was going to happen after the events of book 5  - Evernight. This is the sixth in the Darkest London series which finds the king of the GIM, Adam in the hands of Mab after failing to win his soul mate - Eliza May's heart. Eliza May however, had been enjoying the creature comforts of her aunt Mab's court until she discovered that the tables have turned on her former captor Adam who is now Mab's prisoner. Can Eliza May forgive Adam for what he did or will she leave him to Mab's less than caring hands? While Adam is imprisoned the spell that allows the GIM to survive is weakening causing many to die. Two of the series favourite GIM - Mary and Daisy are suffering due to what is happening to Adam and may not survive. A lot relies on Adam's survival but can Eliza May forgive what he did to her? Well you will have to read to find out.

Callihan uses Soulbound to effectively fill in the gaps of the history of the GIM and to describe how Adam created them. Through the emerging romance between Eliza May and Adam we learn what happened to him centuries earlier to earn Mab's wrath and become the king of the dead. Throughout the series Adam is described as the ultimate heart throb, however I didn't find his romance with Eliza May that steamy. Maybe Callihan used up all her smolder on Will Thorne and Holly Evernight. I did think however, that Callihan was very clever in using the weakening of the GIM to involve the main characters from her other novels. She did it such a way that it didn't sound contrived. Callihan also teases us with some glimpses of what could happen in the next book specifically with the character St. John aka Sin who has up until now has been on the periphery of the other stories. This wasn't my favourite of the series as I felt a little let down by the lack of chemistry of the two lead characters but I thought there were some excellent 'reveals' and I can hardly wait to find out what Callihan has in store for poor Sin.


Melanie's Week in Review - February 22, 2015Despite the fact I had several books on my TBR I ended up perusing my Amazon recommendations. Prince of Hearts by Margaret Foxe has been staring at me for months and I finally relented and bought it. This is the first in the Elders and Welders series. Miss Aline Finch is sick of being taken advantage of by her employer, Professor Romanov. She is determined to quit and marry her more staid (albeit boring) finance but Romanov isn't having it. Not only has he discovered he quite fancies his bespectacled, gambling addict of a personal secretary but someone is out to hurt him by hurting her. Can he save her and win her heart?

I starting this book thinking it was going to be quite amusing. Aline was very prickly and this combined with her love of betting made for some humorous scenes. However, the plot was pretty linear and I had guessed who the ultimate baddy was before I was midway through the book. I wouldn't say it was a waste of time but I don't think I will be continuing with the series.


Melanie's Week in Review - February 22, 2015
Next up was Of Silk and Steam by Bec McMaster which is the 5th in the London Steampunk series. You could be convinced by reading the book summary that this was just another HEA romance set McMaster's steampunky London. There is so much more to this story than just the hot and steamy that the lovely Duchess Aramina and the handsome Leo Barrons get up to. I will admit there is a lot of heat and steam between these two but its the culmination of the plot arc that started back earlier in the series that takes plot from some fairly standard PNR to nail biting tenseness. Of course, the lovely Duchess hates Barron as she blames his family for the death of her beloved father. She tries to keep Barrons at arms length but Leo is too persistent and determined to gain her heart. McMaster develops and resolves the plot of the evil Prince Consort with a nail biting battle in which all our favourite characters from previous books fight for their lives and their freedom. One of my favourites characters of the series  - Blade is back and dropping his 'hs' all over London as the cockney blueblood fights to keep the Echelon out of Whitechapel.

I believe this is the final book of the series as it certainly read like it was. McMaster wraps up all the sub-plots with a lovely bow for the reader and I got to spend some time with all the characters I have enjoyed reading about in the last 4 books. I liked this book and not just because I got to read more about Blade. I had forgotten about Leo Barrons, the blueblood half brother of Honoria and Lena from books 1 and 2 and so it took me a few chapters to remind myself what happened in the earlier books. I quite liked the Duchess as an ass kicking heroine. McMaster knows how to create strong and defiant female characters who can still fight a good fight while wearing an bullet proof corset and bustle. Not an easy task! Great ending to an enjoyable series.


That is it for my steampunky week in review. I hope you have a great week ahead and Happy Reading.

Melanie's Week in Review - September 7, 2014


Melanie's Week in Review - September 7, 2014



*** BUMPER WEEK IN REVIEW ***

Yes folks I have a bumper crop of books to tell you about. I finished 5 books and mid-way though a 6th. So no messing around. What did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - September 7, 2014
Melanie's Week in Review - September 7, 2014If you read my WIR last week you will remember that I read Evernight (Darkest London 5) by Kristen Callihan and was a tad ashamed to say I couldn't remember the series or the characters. I decided to go back and read a few of the books. I started back at the beginning with Firelight, moved quickly onto Moonglow and ended my re-read with Winterblaze. I have discussed these books before so I won't bore with the details again. The first time I read the books I had the biggest issue with Moonglow  and while I still thought the explanation of the GIM (Ghost in the Machine) was flawed there was something else that bothered me this time I read it. I thought I would explain this in the form of a quiz.

Imagine you are arriving back at your lycan lover's stately home and are involved in a serious case of heavy petting in the back of the carriage (tee hee...petting your werewolf boyfriend....tee hee) when your most beloved sister arrives to inform you that your brother-in-law has been mortally wounded in a werewolf attack.  Do you ....

a)  ignore your sister and continue with the hot and steamy with your furry honey;
b)  go with your sister to the bedside of your brother-in-law only to leave your shell-shocked sister alone to go back to your love interest's home for some 'tupping';
c)  pop down to the local pub for a nice lunch as all the excitement makes you hungry;

or

d)  all of the above.

Well which do you think the heroine of Moonglow chose to do? Please let me know! I decided not to bother with book 4, Shadow Dance, as everything had come back to me and I had other books to read.

Melanie's Week in Review - September 7, 2014
I was quite excited to discover that not 1 but 2 books I had pre-ordered on Amazon had popped down onto my Kindle. I started with Knight's Honor by Thea Harrison which is the 7th in the Elder Races series. This book is a bit of a departure from the previous books and doesn't centre on Dragos, Pia or one of the Sentinels. This time it tells the story of the mousey, shy, computer geek Tess who finds herself as a human attendant in the dangerous vampire, Xavier. Tess is on the run and trying to hide from a revengeful Djinn. Tess has got everything and nothing to lose by working for the hunky vamp, except maybe her heart...of course (this is PNR after all).

I like the fact that Harrison chose to write a book in the Elder Races world but not about Dragos or Pia (or friends). I also like the fact it was set back at the same time as the Sentinel Wars so before book 6 - Kinked. However, I think the characters are a bit bland and far too goody good for my liking. Tess is quite dull which is disappointing as I think Harrison missed a trick by not exploiting her humanity and computer genius skills. Xavier is a former priest/assassin/spy who quotes poetry to his lady love and tries to teach her to waltz. Not very gritty. Even still it is a quick read and quite good on a long tube journey.

Melanie's Week in Review - September 7, 2014Book number 5 on my reading list for the week was Forged by Desire* by Bec McMaster. This is the 4th book in the London Steampunk series and tells the love story of Captain Garrett Reed and his fellow Nighthawk Perry. Reed never noticed the mannish Perry until she displayed her assets in a lovely ball gown while in disguise in The Curious Case of the Clockwork Menace (a novella). Reed is suffering from the ill effects of the vampire disease and there is only a matter of time before he turns into a violent killer. In the meantime Perry is confronting a secret from her past while investigating the murder of two innocent girls. Can Perry and Garrett get together before her past comes back to haunt her or before Garrett succumbs to the disease?  Well I won't tell you. This is a gritty tale and Perry's past is a deep, dark secret indeed. Some of my favourite characters from the previous books appeared including Blade. You will be glad to know that Honoria still hasn't given him those elocution lessons!

Melanie's Week in Review - September 7, 2014
My final book for this week is Our Broken Sky by Sarah Harian. This is a novella in the Chaos Theory series. I have only just started this so not much to tell. Well that is it for me. I am super impressed with my book reading accomplishments this week. Fingers crossed I don't revert back to my previous poor performance. Until next week Happy Reading.








* You may read an excerpt of Forged by Desire here and see a list of all the books and novellas in this series.


Excerpt from Forged by Desire by Bec McMaster - September 4, 2014

Please welcome Bec McMaster to The Qwillery with an excerpt from Forged by Desire, the 4th novel in the London Steampunk series.



Excerpt from Forged by Desire by Bec McMaster - September 4, 2014




It all starts with a dare.

Garrett Reed, Master of the Nighthawks Guild of thief-catchers, has always equated his partner, Perry, with breeches. For a man who knows women through-and-through, he rarely thinks of her as feminine. And when a case requires Perry to go undercover in a gorgeous red dress, Garrett cannot even imagine his friend pulling it off. Perry? In a dress? The idea is utterly ludicrous.

For Perry, who's been half in love with him for years, Garrett's laughter is like a red flag to a bull. She'll show him - and then the joke will be on him. The problem is, she never expected it to change matters between them forever...

Here's a little excerpt from Forged By Desire, following that life-changing mission:

       Garrett closed the black lacquered door to the steam carriage as he stepped down. Perry had swept her driving goggles up on top of her head, the glossy black strands of her hair tumbling in disarray. Cursing under her breath, she pulled the lever that shut off the oxygen valve to the boilers and waited for the steam carriage to hiss itself into a whispered death. Little half-moons of soot stained her cheeks, a sight that almost brought a smile to his face.
       She didn’t look at him. She hadn’t in over a month, not directly. As though looking at him meant she too would have to confront what had happened at the opera. The turning point in both their lives.
       A sudden reckless frustration swept through him. “Here,” he said, stepping forward and offering her his arm to help her down.
       “You’ve never helped me down before,” Perry said with a sudden scowl. “I know you’re struggling to reconcile the fact that I’m actually female, but that doesn’t suddenly make me useless. Just because I wore a dress, it doesn’t change anything.”
       Swinging her legs off the driver’s seat, she slid down into the spare few inches between his body and the carriage. For a moment Garrett was tempted to step back, give her space.
       Instead he stilled.
       Perry realized only too late, freezing in place as she brushed her gloves off against her tight leather breeches. Slowly she lifted her head, gaslight catching the gleaming gray of her eyes. There was an inch between them at most. A single tantalizing inch that he was too aware of.
       “It’s difficult to stop picturing you in that dress,” he replied, forcing his voice to stay soft. He could almost feel the heat of the hunger swimming through his eyes, threatening to drop him over the edge. “Considering how much of you it flaunted.”
       “You can’t help yourself, can you? I never should have worn the dratted thing.”
       Reaching up, his gloved fingers swept at the sooty rings her goggles had left on her cheeks. The motion soothed some part of him. Maybe this was what he needed. Something to ground him. “I said that you could never pass as a female and you wanted to throw my words back in my face. You succeeded. Admirably.”
       Twirling at the bottom of the stairs, the red skirts sweeping around her and the thick, luscious curls of her wig trailing over her shoulder as she shot him such a direct look he could hardly breathe all of a sudden… “Well?” she’d challenged.
       That moment. The moment it all changed. Like some enormous hand reached out and closed its fingers around his heart and lungs, squeezing, forcing the breath out of him.
       Garrett didn’t know how to react now. Perry had recovered flawlessly, resuming her aloof, taciturn persona as though nothing remotely unusual had occurred that night. Gone was the practiced flirtation, the smiles that lit her from within… But he couldn’t forget them. How did you forget something like that? Pretend it had never happened? Pretend that his eye wasn’t drawn to her now, in a way that was distinctly masculine and not at all friend-like?
       The problem was that he now knew a sensual woman existed beneath her logical, focused exterior. If she were any other woman, he would have pursued her relentlessly until he had what he wanted. But this was Perry. Someone he admired, respected, someone he’d give his life for. To cross that line meant their entire friendship - which was evolving, admittedly - would change. And then? He didn’t have a bloody clue what that would mean. But he knew it meant more than sex, more than friendship. Perry deserved nothing less - he just wasn’t certain he could give her what she wanted.
       “You enjoyed making me act like a fool,” Garrett murmured. “Don’t even try to deny it. And now you have to deal with the consequences.”
       Her eyes suddenly gleamed. “You’re right. I did enjoy making a fool of you. The problem is, that I only ever intended for you to act a fool for one night. Not this whole bleeding month.”
       Sliding past him, leaving behind the ghostly fragrance she washed her clothes in, Perry strode toward the factory.



Forged by Desire
London Steampunk 4
Sourcebooks Casablanca, September 2, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Excerpt from Forged by Desire by Bec McMaster - September 4, 2014
A FEAR SHE CAN’T ESCAPE
Ten years ago, Perry fled her thrall contract to find sanctuary among the Nighthawks. In that time, she’s become a respected woman of the Guard, and she’s wanted Garrett Reed for as long as she can remember. But when a new case takes a chillingly familiar turn, Perry finds herself once again in the path of a madman…only this time, there’s nowhere left to run.

A DESIRE THAT CAN’T BE TEMPERED
Out of their depth and racing against time, Perry and Garrett must learn to trust the desire sparking between them…or risk losing themselves forever to the darkness stalking London’s streets.



And there is a prequel novella to Forged by Desire. It's free until the end of September!

The Curious Case of the Clockwork Menace
London Steampunk 3.5
Bec McMaster, August 14, 2014
eNovella

Excerpt from Forged by Desire by Bec McMaster - September 4, 2014
Friends, partners, and professionals. So just why is this case coming between them?

In a Victorian London ruled by the blood-drinking elite, Perry Lowell is a logical and accomplished Nighthawk: a rogue blue blood who tracks murderers and thieves for the Guild. So when she and her charming-but-reckless partner, Garrett, are charged with finding a missing theatre starlet, it should be a simple solve.

But with an entire theatre of suspects, including a flirtatious understudy and whispers of a Clockwork Menace haunting the place, tension is brewing between the pair of them. Can they come together to solve the case - or will it be too late, when the murderer turns his gaze on Perry herself?

Warning: This is not a complete HEA. It's a pre-romance novella featuring the couple who will find their HEA in Forged By Desire (available Sept 2014). Heads will butt, tempers will flare - and perhaps one of them might come to realise just what the other truly means to them?





Previously in the Darkest London series

My Lady Quicksilver
London Steampunk 3
Sourcebooks Casablanca, October 1, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Excerpt from Forged by Desire by Bec McMaster - September 4, 2014
In the mist-shrouded streets of a steam-fueled London, a clockwork army is on the rise, vampire blue bloods rule the streets, and war is brewing...

I Will Come For You...

He will find her no matter what. As a blue-blooded captain of the Nighthawk Guard, his senses are keener than most. Some think he's indestructible. But once he finds the elusive Mercury, what will he do with her?

It's his duty to turn her in—she's a notorious spy and traitor. But after one stolen moment, he can't forget the feel of her in his arms, the taste of her, or the sharp sting of betrayal as she slipped off into the night. Little does Mercury know, no one hunts better than the Nighthawk. And his greatest revenge will be to leave her begging for his touch...



Heart of Iron
London Steampunk 2
Sourcebooks Casablanca, May 7, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Excerpt from Forged by Desire by Bec McMaster - September 4, 2014
In the mist-shrouded streets of London’s dreaded Whitechapel district, werewolves, vampires and a clockwork army are one step away from battle…

No One to Trust

Dangerous. Unpredictable. That's how people know the hulking Will Carver. And those who don't like pretty words just call him The Beat. No matter how hard Will works to suppress his werewulfen side, certain things drive him beyond all control. And saucy Miss Lena Todd tops the list.

Lena makes the perfect spy against the ruling Echelon blue bloods. No one suspects that under the appearance of flirtatious debutante lies a heart of iron. Not even the ruthless Will Carver, the one man she can't wrap around her finger and the one man whose kiss she can never forget. He's supposed to be protecting her, but he might just be her biggest threat yet...



Tarnished Knight
London Steampunk 1.5
Bec McMasster, April 1, 2013
eNovella, 162 pages

Excerpt from Forged by Desire by Bec McMaster - September 4, 2014
In the steam-fuelled world of Victorian London, vampires, werewolves and slasher gangs stalk the night and a man made partly of metal is about to discover just how far he’ll go to protect the woman he loves…

After a vicious vampire attack left him struggling to leash the dark urges of the craving virus, John ‘Rip’ Doolan, thinks he’s finally starting to master the darkness within. The only thing that threatens to shatter his hard-won control is Esme, his closest friend and the only woman he’s ever wanted. If the stubborn beauty ever realised precisely what was going through his mind, their friendship would be ruined…

For six months Esme has waited for Rip to recover and take her as his thrall, not daring to hope for more. Too afraid to put her heart on the line, she’s devastated when Rip reveals that he never had any intentions of making her his.

But when a savage gang of Slashers start causing havoc in Whitechapel, Rip and Esme have no choice. They must face up to the depth of the passion that burns between them and forge a new relationship… or risk losing each other forever.



Kiss of Steel
London Steampunk 1
Sourcebooks Casablanca, September 4, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Excerpt from Forged by Desire by Bec McMaster - September 4, 2014
He craves her like no other…

Honoria Todd has no choice. Only in the dreaded Whitechapel district can she escape the long reach of the Duke of Vickers. But seeking refuge there will put her straight into the hands of Blade, legendary master of the rookeries. No one would dare cross him, but what price would he demand to keep her safe?

Ever since Vickers infected him with the craving, Blade has been quicker, stronger, almost immortal—and terrified of losing control of the monster within. Honoria could be his perfect revenge against the duke…or the salvation he never dared to dream of.





About Bec

Excerpt from Forged by Desire by Bec McMaster - September 4, 2014
Award-winning author Bec McMaster lives in a small town in Australia and grew up with her nose in a book. A member of RWA, she writes sexy, dark paranormals and steampunk romance. When not writing, reading, or poring over travel brochures, she loves spending time with her very own hero or daydreaming about new worlds. Read more about her at www.becmcmaster.com or follow her on Twitter, @BecMcMaster.











Melanie's Week in Review - October 6, 2013


Melanie's Week in Review  - October 6, 2013


TWO MEASLY BOOKS! I can't believe I only read 2 books this week. That is dismal and I hang my head in shame at this complete lack of reading progress. I am going to plan my reading better so that I do better next week.

Melanie's Week in Review  - October 6, 2013
So what did I read? I spent most of the week reading Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas. I read the first book of the Throne of Glass series last year. While I really enjoyed book one I thought the second was a bit dull. It almost read like it was two two separate books combined together into one or that they had been written by different authors. The first half of the book was quite sedate and built up more of the main characters and a tiny bit of the overall plot.  However, at the midway point it completely changed and it was all action, intrigue and secrets revealed. It wasn't until the latter part of the book that I started to get interested and I am not one to think a book is boring just because it focuses on character development. I think it was a lack of flow that caused me to not enjoy it as much as I did book one. Imagine my frustration when my main read of the week took ages to finish! I love the cover and I spent a lot of time looking at it. Maybe that is why it took me so long to read it. The swirling reds colours, the swords and the flow of the cape really give you a sense of the character and what you might expect when you read the book (although you have to wait for 200 pages for it get that exciting!).

Melanie's Week in Review  - October 6, 2013Lucky for me I was saved from the embarrassment of only having read 1 book when My Lady Quicksilver by Bec McMaster popped onto my Kindle. This is the third novel in her London Steampunk series. I like the world that McMaster has created in this series and her steampunk version of London. This installment focuses much more on romance than the other two books of the series. I realise that is the point of SFR but the first two books teased the reader with the growing attraction between the hero and heroine whereas, in My Lady Quicksliver it starts much sooner. In fact in the first few pages. This book tells the story of the Nighthawk and vampire, Lynch and the humanist rogue, Mercury who we met in book 2 (we may have met Lynch in book 1...I can't remember).  Mercury was an interesting heroine and her back story was well constructed. There was only one scene with a character from the other books of the series and not the one I was expecting. I think McMaster could have put other characters into cameo roles to really bring the series together.

As much as I enjoyed this series for its 'steampunkiness' and resilient female leads I was quite disappointed with the cover of book 3. I know that I probably shouldn't but I am influenced by book covers and spend a lot of time looking at them. I was disappointed with the model used for Lynch as he looked nothing how he is described in the book. He looked a bit more like he is part of a boy band rather than a ruthless and driven leader of the Nighthawk guards (not to mention being a super, strong vampire). I kept referring back to it as I read passages where Lynch was described thinking how poorly it represented him. I did think that Mercury was quite 'sassy' looking although something vital is missing from the cover that is very important to the plot (I won't tell what it is in case you haven't met this character before). Don't put my lack of love for the cover put you off.  It is a great series and if you like PNR or SFR then give this series a go.

That is all for me this week and I will try harder to read more than just two books.  As always, thank you for reading and I hope you have had more success than I in reducing your TBR.  Happy Reading.

Review: The Red Plague Affair by Lilith Saintcrow - May 11, 2013



The Red Plague Affair
Author:  Lilith Saintcrow
Series:  Bannon and Clare
Publisher:  Orbit, May 21, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
Price:  $13.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780316183734 (print)
Review copy:  NetGalley

Review: The Red Plague Affair by Lilith Saintcrow - May 11, 2013
The service of Britannia is not for the faint of heart--or conscience...

Emma Bannon, Sorceress Prime in service to Queen Victrix, has a mission: to find the doctor who has created a powerful new weapon. Her friend, the mentath Archibald Clare, is only too happy to help. It will distract him from pursuing his nemesis, and besides, Clare is not as young as he used to be. A spot of Miss Bannon's excellent hospitality and her diverting company may be just what he needs.

Unfortunately, their quarry is a fanatic, and his poisonous discovery is just as dangerous to Britannia as to Her enemies. Now a single man has set Londinium ablaze, and Clare finds himself in the middle of distressing excitement, racing against time and theory to find a cure. Miss Bannon, of course, has troubles of her own, for the Queen's Consort Alberich is ill, and Her Majesty unhappy with Bannon's loyal service. And there is still no reliable way to find a hansom when one needs it most...

The game is afoot. And the Red Plague rises.



Melanie’s Thoughts

The Red Plague Affair is the second installment of the Bannon and Clare series and there is more adventure ahead for this unlikely pair. The story continues not long after the end of The Iron Wrym Affair (Bannon and Clare 1) with Clare and Bannon living their separate lives. Bannon has been summoned by Queen Victrix to find a renowned biologist while Clare is out searching for his arch nemesis, Dr. Vance. Things turn dire for Clare as in the midst of his pursuit of Dr. Vance and this puts our favourite odd couple back together. Bannon soon sets Clare to work with the task of helping her to find the elusive Dr. Morris. What they find however, is far worse than anything they could have imagined as Morris had developed a deadly plague and released it on the unsuspecting citizens of Londonium. It’s a race against time for Clare to find a cure and for Bannon to save the day. The odds are stacked against the oddest couple in this steampunk world.

I really liked The Iron Wrym Affair on my first read through but didn't think it held up on my second read of it. The things that bothered me in book 1 were cleared up in book 2, well almost! Clare and Bannon have a much closer relationship in The Red Plague Affair and there is more camaraderie between the two and evidence that their friendship has grown since they last worked together. I actually liked Bannon in this novel and thought that Saintcrow wrote her with more humanity than in the previous novel. Bannon was something other than just her curly hair, well trimmed outfits and sparkling jewels. There was also more revealed about Bannon’s past and how she ended up in the Collegia and as a Prime. Clare was his usual witty self and more of this novel was dedicated to the talented mentath. He was also used as the method of drawing out Bannon’s past which I thought was a good way of revealing her story. There were a few more tidbits about Mikal, Bannon’s Shield (aka bodyguard) but Saintcrow continues to tease me by not revealing who or what he is. For those that haven’t read The Iron Wrym Affair, much is made about Mikal’s mysterious past, about what he is and his motivation for working for Bannon. Even in this second installment she constantly questions the circumstances of how he came to work for her, where he came from and more importantly, whether she trusts him. There was a point in the novel that Mikal was about to confess to Bannon but she said she didn’t want to know. I was practically screaming at my Kindle ‘tell me, tell me, I want to know!’ There is the biggest tease at the end of the book about Mikal that makes me hope that Saintcrow doesn’t leave us hanging on much longer.

Saintcrow, really ramps up the tension in The Red Plague Affair as I was on the edge of my seat from the first chapter. There was a lot happening in this installment and even the scenes with just Clare on his own in Bannon’s house were full of intrigue. The discovery of the plague and quest to find a cure were subtle in their intensity, especially the scenes with Clare. There was a real feeling of the race against time to find the cure and it culminated into a truly exciting ending. I was a bit disappointed with The Iron Wrym but I thought that The Red Plague Affair more than made up for it. The plot was well constructed with the right mix of action, plot and intrigue. I think that Saintcrow needs to resolve the Mikal mystery soon as I think that the 'not knowing' could grow thin after a while. This is really nit picking as The Red Plague Affair is a dark and compelling read with a gorgeous cover!

Interview with Bec McMaster, author of Kiss of Steel - September 14, 2012

Please welcome Bec McMaster to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Kiss of Steel (London Steampunk 1) was published on September 4, 2012.  You may read Bec's Guest Blog - I need a hero... - here.


Interview with Bec McMaster, author of Kiss of Steel - September 14, 2012



TQ:  Welcome to the Qwillery!

Bec:  Hi! And thanks for having me!


TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Bec:  Sometimes if I am having a bad day, I will hijack the scene I’m struggling in and shoot my main character or have everyone explode. I kill my characters off in more and more interesting ways, and then I delete everything and go back to writing that scene. It gets the creative juices flowing and eases my frustration.


TQ:  Who are some of your favourite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Bec:  I love anything by Lilith Saintcrow, Meljean Brook, Jim Butcher, Ilona Andrews or Stacia Kane. Dorothy Dunnett is another old favourite and Nalini Singh consistently hits it out of the park. Authors who write strong female characters and in-depth world-building tend to be auto-buys for me.

Anything and everything influences me, though I will admit that I’m very visual. If I see a beautiful photo or artwork, my mind is often off and running with how to utilise it. I also like movies for this very reason.


TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Bec:  Pantser by natural inclination and plotter by necessity, now that I have a contract. I follow the synopsis fairly closely, but there are always moments when inspiration strikes and I deviate slightly.


TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Bec:  Food amnesia. I swear, I get involved in the story, wander aimlessly to the kitchen whilst plotting something out, obviously eat something, return to computer, rinse, repeat… By the end of the day I’m staring into my fridge wondering where the cheese has gone, and then I’ll remember that I ate it sometime. I am forcing myself to stick to regular breaks these days, and only then can I have something to nibble on.

Writing itself is rarely challenging. When I am not at the computer I’m thinking about the story, so that when I do sit down I’m ready to go. If I feel a little blocked I go read something, or start working on one of my side projects to refill the creative well. Or, as above, kill off all the main characters.


TQ:  Describe Kiss of Steel in 140 characters or less / like a tweet.

Bec:  In a steam-fuelled world a woman fleeing from a crazed duke with a secret he’d kill for, makes a deal with a notorious rogue for protection.


TQ:  What inspired you to write Kiss of Steel?

Bec:  I’ve had this idea about a vampiric version of the ton in my head for a while now, and a world run by their rules. This image of a woman on the run from something popped into my head and I wanted to see just how desperate I could make her position, and just what she would do to survive when all the odds were against her. Honoria is a fighter and I loved that about her.


TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Kiss of Steel?

Bec:  In creating an alternate world, the first step is to know the rules before you break them. There was a lot of research into day-to-day Victorian-era life and as Kiss of Steel is steampunk, into the inventions that scientists have either attempted or dreamed up over the years. And then of course, there are the gorgeous costumes one must simply stare at.


TQ:  What is the oddest bit of information that you came across in your research?

Bec:  Victorian prostitutes often wore pubic wigs to disguise signs of disease. The merkin went back further than I ever imagined – all the way to 1450 in fact. And no, this particular tid-bit didn’t actually make it into the book.


TQ:  Tell us something about Kiss of Steel that is not in the book description.

BecKiss of Steel is ultimately about family and what one will do to protect them. My heroine Honoria is the oldest sibling, and desperate to protect her ill brother and flighty sister. The hero, Blade, has survived the worst the streets could throw at him and created his own safe-haven in the slums of Whitechapel with his adopted family. The relationships between all of the characters were very important, even the secondary characters.


TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Bec:  The easiest character to write was definitely Blade, my hero. He popped into my head almost fully formed and I could practically hear him whispering in my ear during the dialogue, which was handy considering his Cockney jargon. I think it was because he was very self-assured as a character, he knew who he was, flaws and all, and he wasn’t ashamed of it.

The hardest to write was his lieutenant Will Carver, my stubborn, taciturn verwulfen bodyguard. Writing Will was like prying bits of information out of him one by one, with him fighting me the whole way. Just the nature of the man.


TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favourite scene(s) in KOS?

Bec:  I have several. The duel scene is a favourite, because it was so easy to write (give me an action scene any day) and the odds were so against my hero and heroine.

Also, there is a scene where Honoria is forced by circumstances to go to Blade for protection – which in their world means she offers her blood or her body to him. Its something she dreads and that shames her, so she is blown away by how he reacts.


TQ:  What’s next?

BecHeart of Iron is out in May 2013 and features Will Carver, and Honoria’s younger sister Lena. If anyone went through my search history for this book, I’d be locked up; how to make something explode, mechanical squid, knife wounds, Scandinavian military costumes, Greek fire…


TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Bec:  Thank you for having me!



Kiss of Steel

Kiss of Steel
London Steampunk 1
Sourcebooks, September 4, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Interview with Bec McMaster, author of Kiss of Steel - September 14, 2012
When Nowhere is Safe

Most people avoid the dreaded Whitecapel district. For Honoria Todd, it's the last safe haven. But at what price?

Blade is known as the master of the rookeries—no one dares cross him. It's been said he faced down the Echelon's army single–handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood–craving he's been quicker, stronger, and almost immortal.

When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She's so...innocent. He doesn't see her backbone of steel—or that she could be the very salvation he's been seeking.



About Bec

Interview with Bec McMaster, author of Kiss of Steel - September 14, 2012
Bec McMaster writes romance novels featuring red-hot alpha males, kick-ass heroines and edge-of-your-seat adventures. When not writing, reading, or poring over travel brochures, she loves spending time with her very own hero or daydreaming about new worlds. Her debut steampunk romance, Kiss of Steel, is available Sept, 2012, from Sourcebooks. Read more about her at www.becmcmaster.com, or follow her on twitter @BecMcMaster.



Guest Blog by Bec McMaster - I need a hero…

Please welcome Bec McMaster to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Kiss of Steel (London Steampunk 1) will be published on September 4, 2012.


Guest Blog by Bec McMaster - I need a hero…



I need a hero…

Everybody has their favourite sort of hero. For some it’s a dashing duke or a dangerous rake, for others it’s a prince in disguise. But for me, it’s always been the diamond in the rough.

From Buffy’s Spike or Derek Craven from Lisa Kleypas’s Dreaming of You or even Disney’s Aladdin, I’ve always had a soft spot for the type of hero who’s had to fight the odds his entire life. He might not be educated. He might not even be literate, but he’s got the kind of street smarts and roguish charm that can win even the most hardened heart, and he’s more than prepared to do it.

When I wrote Kiss of Steel, my hero Blade came into my head fully formed, whispering in my ear with that delicious Cockney accent. Dressed in gaudy velvet waistcoats and defiantly himself, Blade doesn’t give a damn what others think of him. He knows who he is and he’s proud to be that way.

In my steam-fuelled Victorian world, Blade’s master of his own destiny, determined to defy the aristocratic blue blood Echelon who rules London and protect the little ‘family’ he’s managed to form. Alpha enough to rule the rookery of Whitechapel and just ruthless enough to keep it, he’s also hiding a heart of gold beneath that roughened exterior. He has his own dark secrets too. But what hero doesn’t?

Of course, every hero needs a heroine who’s his match, and who better than strait-laced Honoria Todd, on the run from a monster from Blade’s past? She could be his perfect revenge against the Duke of Vickers or his ultimate salvation.

When Honoria comes into his life, Blade’s not looking for love – but when he realises what he feels, he’s going to fight for it, tooth and nail. Not so easy when my heroine had other ideas of course, but that’s all part of the fun. I love a hero who has to work for what he wants.

So tell me… The upright hero just begging to have his hair mussed? The possessive alpha? Or even a self-made workaholic? What’s your favourite hero type – literary or otherwise - and why?



BLURB FOR KISS OF STEEL

He craves her like no other…

Honoria Todd has no choice. Only in the dreaded Whitechapel district can she escape the long reach of the Duke of Vickers. But seeking refuge there will put her straight into the hands of Blade, legendary master of the rookeries. No one would dare cross him, but what price would he demand to keep her safe?

Ever since Vickers infected him with the craving, Blade has been quicker, stronger, almost immortal—and terrified of losing control of the monster within. Honoria could be his perfect revenge against the duke…or the salvation he never dared to dream of.



EXCERPT FROM KISS OF STEEL

To give this a little context, the first time Honoria meets Blade he offers her protection from the dangers of the rookery… for a price. Honoria’s response is to draw her pistol to prove that she’s not without protection:
       There was a blur of movement and something grabbed her from behind. Honoria gasped, the knife a sharp warning against her throat as he drew her back against his hard body. Her chin tipped up and she swallowed hard, the blade hovering directly over her carotid. His arm was a steel band about her waist, hugging her close.

       Blade’s lips brushed her ear. “Still not impressed,” he whispered.

       The fire spat. Her wide eyes took in the room: the cheroot sitting in the ash tray and still smoking: the abandoned cat giving them a disgruntled look from the floor as it turned and sauntered away: and the long stretch of shadow that showed them locked together in a parody of an embrace.

       “Put it down, luv,” he said. “And don’t ever draw on me again unless you intend to use it.”

       Honoria lowered the pistol. “I was proving a point. I didn’t bother to cock it.”

       “Just as I were provin’ my point,” he replied in that husky whisper. His cool breath stirred the curls at her throat, pebbling her damp skin. “Who do you think won?”

       “I may have been... somewhat precipitous,” she admitted.

       His hand slid along hers, closing over her fingers. “Give it to me.”

       No. Honoria shut her eyes and took a deep breath. She forced her fingers to relax. To let him take the smooth weight of the pistol.

       He thumbed open the barrel and examined the shot inside with a soft grunt. “What the bleedin’ devil are you usin’ for rounds?”

       “Firebolts,” she replied. “My father designed them.” And then she shut her mouth. He didn’t need to know anything about her father. It was safer that way.

       Vickers still had a price on her head and who knew what this man would do for that much money?

       Blade snapped the pistol barrel back into place, then tucked it away somewhere on his person. The razor-edge against her throat kept her locked in place. The pressure was perfect. She couldn’t move an inch, but it hadn’t broken the skin either.

       Then suddenly it eased. Honoria took a deeper breath, her head spinning with the sudden rush of oxygen into starved lungs. With the knife gone, other impressions started leeching into her. The hard body imprinted against hers, separated only by the thickness of her bedraggled bustle. The press of his belt buckle, tugging at the fabric of her skirts. And the sound of his breathing, quickening just slightly.

       His arm slid around her waist again. “And now you’re disarmed. And at me mercy. Now what do you do, Miss Todd?”



Kiss of Steel

Kiss of Steel
London Steampunk 1
Sourcebooks, September 4, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Guest Blog by Bec McMaster - I need a hero…
When Nowhere is Safe

Most people avoid the dreaded Whitecapel district. For Honoria Todd, it's the last safe haven. But at what price?

Blade is known as the master of the rookeries—no one dares cross him. It's been said he faced down the Echelon's army single–handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood–craving he's been quicker, stronger, and almost immortal.

When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She's so...innocent. He doesn't see her backbone of steel—or that she could be the very salvation he's been seeking.




About Bec

Guest Blog by Bec McMaster - I need a hero…
Bec McMaster writes romance novels featuring red-hot alpha males, kick-ass heroines and edge-of-your-seat adventures. When not writing, reading, or poring over travel brochures, she loves spending time with her very own hero or daydreaming about new worlds. Her debut steampunk romance, Kiss of Steel, is available Sept, 2012, from Sourcebooks. Read more about her at www.becmcmaster.com, or follow her on twitter @BecMcMaster.







The Giveaway

THE RULES

What:  One commenter will win a copy of Kiss of Steel (London Steampunk 1) from The Qwillery. Please note that the winner will not receive the novel until after it is released in September.

How:  Leave a comment answering Bec's question:

The upright hero just begging to have his hair mussed? The possessive alpha? Or even a self-made workaholic? What’s your favourite hero type – literary or otherwise - and why?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

There are a total of 3 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry) and Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry).  This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook or Twitter mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Tuesday, August 28, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*
Spotlight: Excerpt from Of Silk and Steam by Bec McMaster and Giveaway! - March 13, 2015Melanie's Week in Review - February 22, 2015Melanie's Week in Review - September 7, 2014Excerpt from Forged by Desire by Bec McMaster - September 4, 2014Guest Blog by Bec McMaster - Up Close and Personal with Mercury - and Giveaway - October 15, 2013Melanie's Week in Review  - October 6, 2013Review: The Red Plague Affair by Lilith Saintcrow - May 11, 2013Interview with Bec McMaster, author of Kiss of Steel - September 14, 2012Guest Blog by Bec McMaster - I need a hero…

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