Mission Improper (London Steampunk: The Blue Blood Conspiracy #1) by Bec McMaster

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Three years ago, London society changed forever, with a revolution placing the widowed Queen firmly on the throne her blue blood husband tried to take from her. Humans, verwulfen and mechs are no longer considered the lesser classes, but not everybody is happy with the new order…

Entire families have gone missing in the East End. When Caleb Byrnes receives an invitation to join the Company of Rogues as an undercover agent pledged to protect the crown, he jumps at the chance to find out who, or what, is behind the disappearances. Hunting criminals is what the darkly driven blue blood does best, and though he prefers to work alone, the opportunity is too good to resist.

The problem? He’s partnered with Ingrid Miller, the fiery and passionate verwulfen woman who won a private bet against him a year ago. Byrnes has a score to settle, but one stolen kiss and suddenly the killer is not the only thing Byrnes is interested in hunting.

Soon they’re chasing whispered rumours of a secret project gone wrong, and a monster that just might be more dangerous than either of them combined. The only way to find out more is to go undercover among the blue blood elite… But when their hunt uncovers a mysterious conspiracy, Byrnes and Ingrid must set aside their age-old rivalry if they have any chance at surviving a treacherous plot.

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Publisher and Release Date: Lochlaber Press, August 2016

Time and Setting: Alternate Victorian England
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance/Steampunk
Heat Level: 1.5 Stars
Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars

Review by Jenny Q

As a huge fan of Bec McMaster’s London Steampunk series, I was sorry to see it come to an end, especially since I felt a certain pair of characters had not yet had their story told (I’m looking at you, Charlie and Lark), and the story world was so rich with opportunities for more novels. My prayers were answered when Mission: Improper was announced, the first book in a spin-off series set in the same world with new leading characters and featuring appearances from some of our favorite characters from the previous series!

Mission: Improper begins with Nighthawk Caleb Byrnes – a member of the supernatural police force – receiving a summons to a mysterious meeting. He arrives to find that himself, three other blue bloods (including Charlie Todd, yay!), a mech, and the only woman to truly ever get under his skin, Ingrid Miller, a verwulfen, have been carefully selected by the Duke of Malloryn to investigate a series of murders and disappearances that seem to be designed to incite a riot. It’s been three years since the revolution that took down the blue blood elite and placed all supernaturals on equal footing, but a shadowy group has emerged that is bent on bringing down the new order and returning to the old ways. If that wasn’t already enough, there are vampires on the loose, controlled by a new and deadly creature the likes of which none of them have encountered before. Begrudgingly partnered together, Caleb and Ingrid will have to use all of their skills to unearth the players in this new game, uncovering a conspiracy far more ambitious and deep-rooted than first suspected, while fighting an intense attraction to each other as they race the clock to stop a group of madmen from destroying the world as they know it.

I so loved being back in this story world! And I love the characters. As usual, McMaster has created a deep and multi-dimensional hero and heroine; both are brave, smart, and tough, yet at times vulnerable, and both have overcome heartbreaking childhood trauma, building up protective walls while still allowing their hearts to be generous and hopeful. Watching them work together on this case was a joy. My only real complaint here is that the romance takes a little bit of a backseat in this story, and that’s mainly because a lot of things have to be set up to form the foundation of the entire series. which, like its predecessor, will feature an overarching plot throughout all of the books. And while I found it refreshing that Caleb and Ingrid actually talked to each other about what they were thinking and feeling rather than keeping it to themselves, I got to a point where I just wanted them to shut up and do it already! And after they finally did, I wanted more of them together before the story raced along to its conclusion.

The epilogue, which takes place in the future and was satisfying in and of itself, made me wish I’d gotten to see what happened between the end of the story and that point. But since these two should feature in future books, I’m hoping I will get a chance to do that.

I’m sure Mission: Improper is intended to serve as a stand-alone for those who haven’t read the previous series, and some backstory is included, but you just won’t be able to grasp the full meaning of who the different species are, how they relate to each other, and what’s at stake if you haven’t read the other books. (And they’re so good that you really should go and read them first!) Mission: Improper is an action-packed start to a new series in a beloved story world, introducing some new characters on both sides of the conspiracy that I am looking forward to getting to know better in future books. I am anxiously awaiting book two, The Mech Who Loved Me.

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