What a great blend of paranormal romance, steampunk and historical romance mixed together! It was like Victorian London but not. Bec McMaster has created an imaginative dark world where the aristocratic Echelon who rule London are enhanced humans infected on purpose with a virus that makes them stronger and faster than regular humans but they have to live off of blood to survive and also have a strong possibility of turning into monstrous vampires. They have the prince consort backing them along with an army of mechanical fire-breathing soldiers.
Honoria Todd is on the run from the Echelon. Since her father died sixth months ago, she has been in hiding. She is living in Whitechapel or the rookeries. It has a wall around it 20 feet tall. The Echelon steer clear of Whitechapel. It’s the poorest part of London ruled by someone known as the Devil of Whitechapel, a blueblood like the Echelon but a rogue. Honoria is taking care of her younger brother and sister and is barely scraping by, working under an assumed name at an upscale business where she teaches young ladies how to speak and act properly. If her boss finds out that she lives in Whitechapel though, she will lose her job. To make matters worse, her brother has been infected with the craving virus. The Echelon kill anyone who has been infected with the virus because they believe they are the only ones allowed to have it. Without the blood of a blueblood, he will turn into a monster. Living in Whitechapel is also dangerous without the protection of its ruler and now he has called on her for a meeting.
Blade is the ruler of Whitechapel and a blueblood. He keeps everyone in line in Whitechapel and everyone has to pay for protection. He has demanded an audience with Honoria because she has lived in Whitechapel for six months without seeing him or paying her dues to live there. When he meets her, he is instantly attracted to her but she is too poor to pay his taxes. She refuses to be a thrall (blood donor) for him but offers to teach him how to speak properly. He agrees.
A vampire is on the loose in Whitechapel killing people in the streets at night. Blade and his men try to hunt it but the prince consort gets wind of it and sends in help which isn’t really his only motive knowing the prince consort. He sends a member of one the Echelon houses, Leo Barrons who grew up with Honoria and a squad of mechanical soldiers to help hunt down the vampire. Honoria has to keep a low profile so that no one recognizes her or she will be arrested and brought back to the Echelon.
I enjoyed this book immensely and couldn’t put it down. It was just so different from most of the books I have been reading. It almost had a sci-fi feel to it. I’m definitely going to continue reading this series.