Forged by Desire by Bec Mcmaster
The Past Behind Her
No one knew of Perry's past before the Nighthawks, it had't mattered when Jasper Lynch had taken her in the way he acquired all his strays that became his army. The only woman on the team, Perry outwardly had become fierce in the face of her male colleagues. She had to to hide the pain of the past that she couldn't out run in Bec McMaster's fourth novel in the London Steampunk series Forged By Desire.
A past that hadn't forgotten her name was back in the streets of London and Perry was sickened as she and the Nighthawks began to investigate the murders of two debutantes who were found in the remains of the only functioning draining factory to remain after the fires by the revolutionary Humanists demanding equal rights for the humans in a world run by vampires.
Remembering her own narrow escape nine years before, Perry looked at the bodies of these women cut to ribbons, their flesh forging itself back together by the aide of healing and some stitches after new clockwork hearts were placed in their chests after their own organs had been taken.
The man that had done this was keeping the women alive after her tortured them, turning them to vampires so they would continue to live as he went on tormenting them.
Perry knew this because he was the reason she had become a blue blood herself.
Remembering the wounds that had been placed upon her body prior to her escape, Perry hated everything about herself. Her only chance at a new life had been to stage her own murder and make sure the evidence was planted against the Duke she had signed a thrall contract with and hope that everyone believed that she was dead and convinced the man as a murderer. Only he hadn't believed that she had actually died and went on looking for her under the guise of clearing his own name.
The Upper Echelon
Contracted to be a thrall to the Duke in her former life, Perry thought of Octavia Morrow as a separate person.
Though her father had loved her, he thought that life with the older man would provide his daughter with more opportunity than she could ever have on her own. He knew his daughter too well to know that the tomboyish girl could never love fancy balls and gowns as much as her siblings, but she would change over time.
As Octavia, Perry had followed the blue print of what her father wanted for her only to find that it lead to exploitation and pain as the Duke allowed for an evil doctor to let her become one of his experiments after Octavia had found what the women in the basement were screaming about.
Finding them locked in tanks, torn skin stitched together, half had already made the Change to vampires after the injections.
Octavia had fought to the near death trying to escape taking a blade to the jaw of the doctor hoping that she had mortally wounded him before setting up the staged room to look like she had been murdered herself.
Cutting her hair and changing her name to Perry hadn't been enough. Somehow he had found her again.
This time he was threatening more than just the death of her father if she ever told.
Finding Perry alive after all this time, the Duke had used her her friend and partner in the Nighthawks' life as a barginning chip for her returning to him and fulfillment her contract as a thrall to him. Perry had loved Garrett for the nine years that they had been partners and she could never risk their friendship by telling him. One night she had come close in their flirtations but he had stayed away ever since. There was no way that she could risk Garrett's life in this.
The Secret Beauty
For nine years Garrett had worked along the only woman in the Nighthawks as a partner.
It was the night they attended the ball as back up to Rosalind and Lynch that he had first noticed Perry as a woman.
The notion sounded crazy as first as Rosalind had lent the wig and dress to Perry whom was more comfortable in a man's duster and leather pants to pair with her Nighthawk armor.
The outcome had been breathtaking seeing Perry for the first time in red silk skirts and a tight corset tight against curves that Garrett had never seen on her before. It was all he dreamed about now.
But he worried that if he let Perry know that he wanted to be more than friends after all these months of flirtations had lead to that kiss the night of the ball, it could ruin everything.
Worse his CV levels were becoming out of control and he grew closer to the brink of blood lust and the fade. He couldn't risk becoming out of control near her.
There was no way that she could want him back. Her flirtation was a game that she played with him. And it ate him to the core.
Since the night of the ball, Perry had found herself chancing a few more kisses and tempting Garrett. She pulled him close only to push him away and she feared that if she let him in and finally spilled all of her secrets that he may not understand who she had used to be and why she had run as far away as she did from the Duke. She didn't want to risk anyone else getting hurt because of her, especially not someone she loved as much as Garrett.
A Terrible Bargain
She had to go back to the Duke.
The more Garrett had pushed for them to be together, the further Perry had run.
She wasn't sure what had scared her more, the submission to another man or the chance that she would fully surrender to Garrett and he would find out that she wasn't who she had claimed to be.
When Perry falls through the floor into a secret room in the draining factory she finds a witness that is still alive but turned to a blue blood. Knowing for sure now that the other Nighthawks would soon find the connection between the disappearance of Octavia Morrow and Perry herself, she decided that she would let Lynch know the truth before surrendering back to the Duke to keep everyone else safe.
She owed this to herself to pay the price for the deal she had made long before she had known Garrett and it would keep him alive.
Lynch had been like a father figure to the Nighthawks and it turns out that he already had known about her background and hidden away any pictures in the files that would identify Perry as Octavia Morrow.
Lynch promised to take care of Garrett when he found out what Perry had done to protect him.
But it didn't mean that they were going to accept it. As Perry went off to settle her debt, Lynch informed Garrett of the truth and backed by werewolf, Will Carver and Blade, the Devil of Whitechapel, they would get Perry back.
The Fight For A Cure
Those gathered around the Echelon were concerned about finding a cure for the rising CV levels which would eventually cause The Fade for the vampires nearing the high levels, but Honoria had already found a way to lower the levels in her brother and her husband. In fact Honor had done such a good job she actually had brought Blade back to the brink of humanity enough that he was losing him powers as a vampire.
Convincing his wife that so many had relied on his strength to keep Whitechapel safe, he began to drink blood again and continued to let Honor experiment in keeping a way for his level to rise to the level of The Fade.
The doctor had claimed that he had such a cure when exhibiting before court, but the group had learned he was only injecting the subjects with human blood to lower their numbers.
The war between the classes will continue in the next installment of the London Steampunk series.
Forged By Desire reunited characters from the first two novels bring the story closer to full circle whereas the only complaint about the third novel My Lady Quicksilver had made the spacing between books more noticeable.
So much open ended things in the first and second novels that centered around Honor, Blade, Lena, and Will still had been left open I hope to see resolution for all parties in the next book in the series.