My rating: I’d go there again! (4/5)
I’ve been a fan of McMaster’s London Steampunk series since I read Kiss of Steel when it came out in 2012. Since then I’ve been hooked on the series. McMaster writes great romance but also offers an interesting alternative history. In this London, vampires (where are known as blue bloods) are real and pretty much rule the upper class. From book one, I’ve enjoyed how the author has explored this notion of class and all that it entails. In the fourth book, the author takes this a step further with a woman who has escaped from the privileged world and carved a life for herself as one of the sole women vampires.
As a Nighthawk, Perry has successfully hidden her past as a privileged daughter of the Echelon. She’s content with her work; however, the past she ran from is never far from her thoughts. When she begins investigating a serial murder, it seems that Perry’s past might not be as far away as she would like.
Joining Perry in her search is new Captain of the Nighthawk’s Garrett Reed – who just so happens to be the man that Perry has been in love with since she joined the Nighthawks. While Garrett hasn’t actually noticed Perry as more than a partner, he certainly has had a change in perspective thanks to an investigation in the previous book. Of course now that things are actually moving in a romantic direction, a serial killer has to run rampant, Garrett has to battle his own degrading nature, and Perry has to make the decision on whether or not to flee the city.
If you’ve read the previous books in the series, I can guarantee that you will also like this installment. If you haven’t read them, well, perhaps you should add them to you’re to-do list. This series has been a lot of fun and the latest is no exception. There’s great action, a disturbing mystery and fascinating characters.
What really drew my attention in Forged with Desire was the status of women in the Echelon. Yes, this was explored in the previous books, but here there is much more discussion of women in the upper class, and it’s not pretty. Perry, as a woman, is not supposed to be a blue blood.
Women were strictly forbidden the blood rites for fear their gentle natures would succumb to hysteria at the fierce hunger of the craving (p. 6).
As a result, women in this society have only one other option, to become a thrall for a blue blood. Meaning that the woman gives her blue blood access to her blood in exchange for protection, gifts and an honourable thrall contract. It’s not quite marriage, but it the accepted norm in this society. Personally, I found this concept to be rather disturbing but not out of the realms of realism. Reading the descriptions of how this relationship works never felt like something out of a fantasy book; there are correlations in the “real world.” With Perry, McMaster explores exactly what could go wrong in this system. Due to this focus, I did find Forged by Desire to be darker in tone than the previous books; this theme really got to me and has to potential to make some readers uncomfortable. That said, I do think this discussion of women in this society was necessary, since it answered many questions I had about women’s place here, and I suspect that it’s setting the stage for book 5, Of Silk and Steam, where the focus is turned to a woman that has taken her place in the Echelon as a blue blood rather than running as Perry was forced to.
While I genuinely enjoyed the world and I believe that there’s more meat to this novel than the romance, it is the romance that made me pick up this book in the first place. Readers were teased with a potential relationship between Perry and Garrett in My Lady Quicksilver, and I think readers will be satisfied with how that plays out in Forged by Desire. There was a lot of tension between Perry and Garrett throughout the book and I was surprised at how slowly there relationship proceeded. This wasn’t a bad thing, the relationship between the two had it’s complications and I liked the fact that these were never brushed aside in favour of moving the romance along.
Forged by Desire is an excellent addition to McMaster’s series. Questions are answered and groundwork is laid for the next book. This is a perfect read for romance fans, but there’s a lot of other stuff going on here that I think will appeal to other readers. There’s a mystery and the world building is just so cool – in fact, I can really see this one appealing to historical romance fans. While there is more of the fantastic in Forged by Desire the discussion of class will surely appeal to fans of a historical setting. Like I said, add it to you to-read list, but make sure you start with book 1 to get the full effect.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
If you’re a fan of the unrequited love story, I think Seducing Mr. Knightly is a good choice. There’s no steampunk elements here or a dangerous past, but it’s a fun story. Like Perry, Annabelle has loved someone she worked for from afar, and it’s now time to act. The lengths Annabelle goes to in order to catch Derek’s attention are hilarious. Ultimately, this one is more lighthearted, but a good play on the same love story theme.
For a darker steampunk romance, Gilded Hearts might appeal to fans of Forged by Desire. Piper and Samuel are childhood sweethearts who have been driven apart by circumstance; meeting once again brings all those feelings to the fore. If only a murder didn’t stand in their way. If you liked the tension in Forged by Desire, you are likely to enjoy this one as well.
For another unrequited love story, Margaret Foxe’s A Dark Heart is a fabulous choice. It also has vampires, so we have that similarity as well. This time around it’s the hero that’s running for the past and it’s up to the heroine to find out what it is and demonstrate that she’s not running from it, so neither should he. It’s high on action and has a great sense of emotion throughout. To see more raving check out my post about.