Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a recently re-released contemporary F/F paranormal mystery/romance from Alexis Hall. IRON & VELVET is the first book in the Kate Kane Paranormal Investigator series, and I was really intrigued. I’ve only read M/M romance from this author before, including FOR REAL, LOOKING FOR GROUP, and WAITING FOR THE FLOOD and PANSIES. This mostly-girl showdown is smart, sassy and little bit sexy.
Name’s Kane, Kate Kane. I’m a paranormal private investigator, which is like a normal private investigator except—and stop me if you’re having trouble following this—more paranormal. This business comes with a few basic rules: don’t start drinking before noon, don’t get your partner killed, don’t sleep with the woman who killed him.
Last year I broke all of them.
The only rule I didn’t break was the one that said don’t work for vampires. But then a dead werewolf showed up outside the Soho shag palace of Julian Saint-Germain—a bloodsucking flibbertigibbet who’s spent the last eight centuries presiding over an ever-growing empire of booze, sex and hemoglobin.
I shouldn’t have taken the job. The last thing I needed was to get caught in a supernatural smackdown between a werewolf pack and a vampire prince. Even if the vampire prince was dangerously my type. But what can I say? I was broke, I’m a sucker for a pretty face and I gave up on making good decisions a long time ago.
Kate Kane is a take-no-shit PI who totally drinks whisky for breakfast. Her specialty is in paranormal cases, and she’s particularly suited to this being half-Fae. Her mum is the Queen of the Wild Hunt and Kate can draw on her mother’s strength and power when necessary. She’s had a bad year, what with her ex-girlfriend murdering her investigation partner and then getting locked up for it. She’s desperate for a little cash, though, which is why she agrees to investigate the suspiscious death of a young werewolf at the Velvet, a vampire-owned hedonism bar.
Julian St. Germain is one of the four vampire princes–despite being female. She was once a nun on a mission to kill paranormal creatures, but a lot happens in 800 years. While Julian is strong, ancient and powerful, she also doesn’t want to risk a war breaking out all over London between the vampires and werewolf clans, and Kate seems like a sexy morsel who could solve the mystery and satisfy Julian’s…appetites. While Kate normally stays away from bedding vampires–and clients–there’s an undeniable pull between them. Also, Kate is definitely a master at bad decisions.
This is a fun and engaging read with a lush paranormal subculture set into London’s urbanity. I loved the class between the contemporary and the historical physical spaces here, which plays a counterpoint to Kate and Julian’s deepening attraction. There are so many intriguing characters, from the female werewolf alpha, who is a lingerie model who wouldn’t kick Kate out of bed for eating chips, to a genderqueer vamp ready to wreak havoc in stiletto heels, or a female golem who just wants to be useful, but not in a sexual way. Plus, the intricate politics of the different paranormal entities is vast and shrouded in arcane traditions only immortal beings could remember.
A second murder and a direct attack on Julian leads Kate, plus an unlikely collection of vamps, werewolves, and mages, into the bowels of London. They also probe Julian’s ancient history to find what could be stalking her. Wow, was the culprit not pretty. The pacing was brisk and Kate’s deadpan narration was spare and self-deprecating. I think I nearly wet myself coming across one of Kate’s million epitaphs–she mentally composes one each time she’s in deep crap with little chance of survival–so, like 7 a day while on the case. They are almost like tiny refrains, bringing humor in at the darkest moments.
The resolution brings some tragedy, but Kate survives to fight again, and she’ll need Julian’s protection if she’s going to make it any longer in this world. After all, Kate’s a “Beloved daughter,” and doesn’t particularly care to be “Sorely missed.” There’s a dash of sexytimes here and there, while Kate and Julian learn about one another, and try to figure out who could be hunting Julian. It felt like enough, and I didn’t want the romance to slow down the investigation, so I’m glad it didn’t.
About the Author:
Alexis Hall was born in the early 1980s and still thinks the 21st century is the future. To this day, he feels cheated that he lived through a fin de siècle but inexplicably failed to drink a single glass of absinthe, dance with a single courtesan, or stay in a single garret. He did the Oxbridge thing sometime in the 2000s and failed to learn anything of substance. He has had many jobs, including ice cream maker, fortune teller, lab technician, and professional gambler. He was fired from most of them.
He can neither cook nor sing, but he can handle a 17th century smallsword, punts from the proper end, and knows how to hotwire a car. He lives in southeast England, with no cats and no children, and fully intends to keep it that way.
Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!