Title: The Iron Duke
Author: Meljean Brook
Genre: Steampunk/Historical Romance
Series: Iron Seas (Book 1)
Publication Date: October 5, 2010
Format: Paperback, 384 Pages
ISBN-10: 0425236676 (Berkley/Penguin)
ISBN-13: 978-0425236673 (Berkley/Penguin)
Reviewed by: Michelle
After the Iron Duke freed England from Horde control, he instantly became a national hero. Now Rhys Trahaearn has built a merchant empire on the power-and fear-of his name. And when a dead body is dropped from an airship onto his doorstep, bringing Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth into his dangerous world, he intends to make her his next possession.
But when Mina uncovers the victim’s identity, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens the lives of everyone in England. To save them, Mina and Rhys must race across zombie-infested wastelands and treacherous oceans-and Mina discovers the danger is not only to her countrymen, as she finds herself tempted to give up everything to the Iron Duke.
Quick & Dirty: An adventure onto the seven seas with a lusty pirate duke who pines for the girl.
Opening Sentence: Mina hadn’t predicted that sugar would wreck the Marchioness of Hartington’s ball; she’d thought the dancing would.
I originally came about Meljean Brook by receiving a copy of the third book in this series, The Iron Seas. I looked up the synopsis and immediately knew that pirates, zombies, and steampunk all fit within my “MUST READ NOW” category. And since I had the third book, I needed the first two added to my collection. The Iron Duke is the first of the series, and is probably my favorite. Because a pirate duke who had lusty eye stares within the first few chapters? Come on, now. You’d want to read about it also. Let me tell you more!
In Brook’s The Iron Duke, we need to begin with the world’s backstory. The Western world was taken over by the Horde, an Asian race composed of sheer force and superior technology. The Horde attacked Britain, spreading nanoagents like a plague. Battling the British navy, they hid the nanoagents into sugar and tea, ensuring that the widespread and slow control would be imminent. The people were infected, and miniscule machinery took over their bodies. The nanoagents enhanced their strength, sped up their healing abilities, but it came at a price: Horde control through the Tower.
Rhys Trahaern was sold into slavery as a child. He escaped that, and grew up as a pirate. He made a name for himself and solidified it by destroying the tower. He freed all of Britain from Horde control, causing a deathly revolution. Trahaern didn’t expect the effects of his actions, but as a pirate, it wasn’t that big of a concern. To take responsibility for his action, he was forced into the title of Duke, governing over his town, lending his ship to the navy. He was a revered hero, with a reputation that definitely precedes him.
Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth is torn away from a party when she is summoned to a murder at the Iron Duke’s house. Her introduction is what drew me further into the story. Her story allowed me to feel pain and suffering, but her personality brought me pride and elation. Mina is fearless and feisty, allowing her to always to solve the crime. I loved how she was written, filled with flaws and strengths, Mina gave me such a personal reading experience. Her thoughts became my own as well as her emotions. It has been a while since I connected with a character in this way, and I’m glad it was her.
Trahaern is tall, dark, and mysterious – all of the qualities that are always well received. He is a quiet character, surprisingly enough. He has this persona that just exudes power and influence. Trahaern looks a certain way and things just happen. That persona almost caused me to dislike him. He has this fortress of solitude around his heart and it took a while to get to know the real him. It was a slow relationship, but I’m glad where it went.
I have never read an urban fantasy with steampunk, historical, and zombie elements. I really, really enjoyed how this story came together. It has a good plot, built on a strong foundation. Brook knew her audience, but also wrote in a way that attracted many others. The story has a romantic appeal, giving you the ol’ heeve-ho to hook you in.
The world is like no other. The culture of the Horde, the city in aftermath, and pirates are weaved together so nicely in this mix of Asian history and the Western world. Naval ships and airships bring a different level of adventure to the stories. And there are zombies. Guys, zombies. But Brook doesn’t stop there, and you will be pleasantly surprised at what comes your way. The secondary characters make a stand on their own, and I loved each one. They each had an integral role to play and I feel like each one was written for a specific purpose.
I met the Iron Duke. I followed his adventures where his ship took me. I befriended a Detective Inspector and investigated an active case. I fell in love with a couple who weren’t meant to be and was captivated by a world so different from my own. I was reading and loved where my imagination took me.
Mina looked up to find him staring at her. His cheekbones blazed with color, his gaze hot.
She’d seen lust before. This marked the first time that she hadn’t seen any disgust or hatred beneath it.
“Thank you,” she said again, amazed by the evenness of her voice when everything inside her trembled.
“Inspector.” He inclined his head, then looked beyond her to the stairs.
And as she turned, the trembling stopped. Her legs were steady as she walked to the steps, her mind focused.
“Tell me captain: Did you plan to assist her, or undress her?” she heard his companion ask. Trahaearn didn’t reply, and Mina didn’t look back at him.
Even the pull of the Iron Duke was not stronger than death.
The Iron Seas Series:
4. The Kraken King (November 2013)
FTC Advisory: Berkley Trade/Penguin provided me with a copy of The Iron Duke. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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