My fifth pick for my best books of 2014 list is Forged by Desire by Bec McMaster.
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.
I discovered McMaster’s London Steampunk series earlier this year. I was instantly captivated, and I read all the books in just a few days. McMaster’s taken familiar elements—vampires, steampunk—and mixed them up in a way that’s completely new and unique. In McMaster’s London, men of the nobility infect themselves with the “craving virus”—the disease that causes vampirism. In small doses, though, the craving virus causes increased strength, enhanced healing capabilities, and longer life. It can be controlled—until it can’t anymore and the infected turn into mindless vampires.
McMaster’s London is obviously a fantasy world, but I love the way she incorporates the classism and sexism that were so pervasive in real-life Victorian London into the fantasy.
This is the fourth book in the series, and it follows Perry, a Nighthawk (a law enforcement group for the infected) with a dark past. She’s been in love with her partner, Garrett, for years now, and Garrett has remained pretty much…oblivious.
Perry is a woman living in a man’s world; though she can and will wear a dress when the occasion arises, she prefers her fighting leathers. After an illicit kiss, Perry has been putting distance between herself and Garrett, fearing his rejection.
Garrett, who has recently been promoted to leadership of the Nighthawks, has been dropped into a role that doesn’t fit comfortably, and he misses his best friend. At the same time, he can’t stop himself from focusing on his newly discovered attraction to her. (This was, in fact, my one minor complaint with the book: they’d been partners for years, but it wasn’t until he saw her in a dress that he realized he was attracted to her? Oy.)
This will appeal to fans of Kristen Callihan’s Darkest London series. (Evernight, the fifth book in that series, was also featured in my “best of 2014” list.) It will also appeal to people who like their steampunk with a heavy dose of romance. Each book has a stand-alone storyline, however, there’s a heavy amount of world building in the first book, Kiss of Steel, so you might be a little bit lost if you jump in mid-series.