A compelling story set in an alternative late 19th century London, England.
In this version of history, much of the male aristocracy is infected with a 'craving' virus that makes them yearn for blood. They are not vampires as they still retain some of their human morals, or at least as many morals as these titled gentlemen ever had. Upon the death of her father, Honoria Todd and her siblings have been forced to flee the city for the comparative safety of Whitechapel. She is being sought by Lord Vickers, who has placed a huge bounty on her.
He's not the only one searching for her. Blade, the man known as The Devil of Whitechapel has also been keeping his eye on her. He is also afflicted with the craving virus, though he uses his increased strength to help protect those in his neighbourhood.
I liked the character of Honoria. During that time period, there were limitations to womens jobs and she has strived to maintain suitable employment for a middle class. Blade is a much more complex character. He has experienced horrors at the hands of the aristocracy, yet he still cares for and protects the people of Whitechapel. Yes, he wants Honoria for his own devious purposes, but he tries so hard not to take unfair advantage of her.
In classic steampunk style, steam machines, mechanical devices and other technology play a role in the story , but they don't take over. They continue to play a supporting role that allows for far-fetched feats of strength and firepower to fit into that time.
I totally enjoyed this book and the developing relationship between Honoria and Blade. Note, there are detailed sexual scenes in this book, though they are not the main focus.
Additional books in this series:
2 Heart of Iron
3 My Lady Quicksilver - due out October 1, 2013
Thanks to Sourcebooks for use of the cover image.