Bec McMaster’s fifth book in her London Steampunk series, Of Silk and Steam, takes place in an extravagant and violent steampunk version of Victorian London. In this alternate world, the Queen is controlled by the dangerously insane Prince Regent. Under his rule, Blue Bloods (a version of vampires) dominate over a whole slew of humans and supernatural creatures alike.
Lady Aramina, a close friend of the Queen, believes that Leo Barron's father killed her own beloved father, and she's vowed to ruin Leo as revenge. However, Leo, who has always been intrigued by the beautiful Mina, is determined to unravel her many secrets and win her heart. Although Mina and Leo believe that they are on opposite political sides, both are secretly working to overthrow the wretched Prince Regent. In time, their relationship builds from flirtation and intrigue, to fighting side by side in a rebellion against the Prince.
Of Silk and Steam is lushly atmospheric, and the chemistry between the two leads is explosive. The story opens with masked revelers at the Venetian Gardens, and the tone stays opulent throughout. Leo and Mina are complex characters who value each other's resilience, resourcefulness and intelligence. Initially, they are drawn together because of their sexual attraction, but as events unfold, they begin to understand each other's histories and build a real relationship. The actions scenes have a certain "throw it all in" quality that adds a fun element of mayhem and excitement to this steamy steampunk tale.
Although Of Silk and Steam is enjoyable as a standalone, it bears mentioning that this book relies mostly on developments from previous installments and brings a large narrative arc to a spectacular close.