Kiss of Steel by Bec Mcmaster
Six months after the death of her father, Honoria is pawning the last of her dresses to feed her younger brother and sister. Hiding from a vampire that has a price on her head for her fathers research to contain the Blue Blood virus that keeps new vampires from forming, the family is in exile and hoping for a miracle in Bec McMaster's Kiss Of Steel.
Summoned by a street urchin to meet the Devil of White Chapel, a powerful vampire that rules the territory where Honoria has assumed another identity, she fears that her secret has gotten out when she first meets Blade.
Unsure of his intentions, Honor balks at the idea of working for him at his request of three nights a week with her heavy load of work during the day for a few shillings a month, but she has no choice.
Striking a bargain with Blade that she will tutor him in proper English as she does for the students of the finishing school where she is employed under her alias, Honor feels the task will be humiliating but better than being a thrall.
Within days, her brother's illness distracts her from showing up and instead Blade appears at her home and insists on taking Honor for a meal. The night ends in awkwardness as he tries to kiss her and despite his stunning looks and bad boy charms, Honor wants nothing to do with the handsome vampire outside her employment.
Everything changes as she heads home and finds that a rouge vampire has attacked near her home, fearing for her brother and sister.
Blade has already dispatched his werewolves to watch over her family as those in his employ have his protection and loyalty as well.
Wanting to check the home to make sure she is safe, Honoria tries to rush Blade away fearing that he finds the truth.
Her father's valuable research has proven two things, the hemlock that is inserted into Honoria's ring is powerful protection against a vampire attack, and that being born Blue Blooded, the virus that her brother is suffering from will eventually overtake the victim even if the vaccine is constantly applied. Honor worries that if the vampire know of her brother's affliction they will surely take him away and maybe kill him, but he is but an innocent child dying from his thirst for blood.
Asking For It
Within a day of the attack in front of the house, Honor has been let go from her position teaching. She pawns what is left of the items left behind from her life at the university working with her father to find a cure for the Blood Bloods.
She dreams of the life that she has left behind, then remembers where it had gotten her- with a price on her head after her father's throat was slashed in an alleyway.
It was up to Honor to keep her siblings safe and now she had lost her job and probably their home just as the last one after her father's death. With no hope she decides to sell herself to Blade, if he will take her as a blood slave so that her siblings can live off her meager pension.
Blade is shocked that she is asking for this and listens sympathetically to her cries. Agreeing to take her on, and keep the bites hidden on her legs by Honor's stipulation, Blade agrees to pay her thirty shillings a month for her service. He says that he will only drink blood and demands nothing more of her time, other than the continuing of his English lessons.
Honor flushes at the thought of the lovely vampire's lips on her pale skin but she agrees to the contract.
Blade even agrees to begin payment but halt the first feeding until Honor was healthy enough to donate blood and begins to send her food and presents.
Honor pretends that she doesn't want the attention, but even her sister is noticing the chemistry between her sister and the vampire.
Sneaking back to the institute to seek out her father's diaries to continue the research, Honor is found out by her blackmailer and she fears that the rouge vampire attacks near her home are a message to her.
Under Her Spell
In the little time since their lessons, Blade is finding it harder and harder to keep control of himself around Honor.
There is something about the girl that has made him feel a way that he swears he hasn't since he was a mortal man.
She is so innocent though, and it drives him mad to think about taking away her purity by drinking from her but the thought excites him all the same.
Each time they are together he is trying to find a way to touch her, to steal a kiss from her lips and sometimes she relents but often Honor is trying to pull away.
He worries that somehow he isn't good enough for her and the thought troubles him.
Finding out about the price on her head and the dealings of other vampires, Blade fears that perhaps she already has another lover, a jealous vampire that will stop at nothing to get Honor back.
But she's mine, he tells himself. He does have her contract.
But he wants more than just a bargain, Blade is after her heart.
As the tension builds between Honoria and Blade, something has to give and their first share of blood unites them in a bond that can not be broken by any outside force.
Honor finds herself with no other outlet as her brother has turned and is in need of coaching.
Still somewhat angry with Blade for taking the diaries and replacing them with books to get a look at what Honor had stolen from the institute, Honor storms over to Blade's home and begs for him to help her brother.
Knowing from the others employed and under Blade's protection, he would never give up her secret and helps her brother through his vampire transition.
After all these things, Honor feels herself start to swoon and is as wanton for Blade as he is for her but they are still keeping their distance.
For someone that knows everything about what is going on his territory, it makes Honor laugh when she finds that Blade is jealous of her blackmailer, thinking him an old flame that wouldn't give up on her.
Finding the truth they finally submit to their desires for each other and instantly fall madly in love.
Keeping enough secrets from each other, as they lay in each other's embrace after a night of passion, Blade explains to Honor that one of the tests that her father had performed during his research to find out the levels of the Blue Blood virus in the blood had been performed on him.
At nearly seventy-five percent, Blade fears that he will one day go into a blood rage the way the rouge vampire had and never be able to come back from it, though Honor says they will face it together and she will find a way to retain Blade's humanity.
The first in the London Steampunk series, Kiss Of Steel is a fantastic Gothic romance taken place in old London with the addition of supernatural and steampunk elements.
While the other books in the series each center around the subsequent relationships of other characters, the romance of Blade and Honoria are their pinnacle.