On the West Coast of this alternate United States, vampires reign supreme, but Marius Dumont has a problem. He’s in love with Jillian Cooper and always has been, but he must marry Tatiana Asprey, a New York werewolf, in order to maintain peace between their races against the humans. He’s determined to put his love aside for politics until a deadly virus hits the vampire population, and he and Jillian must team up to discover a cause and a cure before it’s too late. Interspersed with their gripping story is the Victorian tale of Edward Vaughan and Charlotte Paxton, an uneven match that proves the basis for everything Jillian and Marius deal with in the present day.
Even though Crimson & Steam is apparently the eighth novel set in this universe, I had no trouble at all quickly picking up on the story and surprisingly falling in love with it. It will shock no one that the Victorian sections were my favorite part. When it comes to romance, generally the only kind I like is historical, and Edward and Charlotte have a very sweet story that is totally relevant to the modern day part.
What is surprising is how much I liked that modern day part. Jillian and Marius don’t really have a romance exactly; they are soul mates and Marius is capable of hearing Jillian’s thoughts and sensing her emotions no matter where she is. It’s established that they’ve had this connection for a good long while. At first, I had Jill pegged as a very weak and whiny heroine, incapable of facing the world without a man she’d come to rely on. She got stronger in the end, but ultimately I still preferred Charlotte, the Victorian heroine. Marius could have been annoying himself, given his clear love for Jillian yet insistence on marrying someone else, but I thought the political situation was well played out and I understood his motives.
I liked it all so much, I think, because there was a clever plot behind it and the focus was on that, rather than what was happening between Marius and Jillian. The side characters of Tatiana and Hayden, Jillian’s ex-boyfriend with some back story issues of his own, really livened up the story. There is just the right amount of suspense and because it doesn’t feel much like a romance novel, I wasn’t sure the happy ending was guaranteed in either of the storylines. I found I was much more engaged and interested as a result. Plus, I loved the steampunk world and reading about it in the present day and then back to its Victorian origins was a lot of fun.
Crimson & Steam was a great light read that I’d recommend to romance or urban fantasy fans. An intriguing world, a clever plotline, and a few great characters make this a very enjoyable book.
I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book from the author for free as an ebook.