Title: The Iron Duke
Author: Meljean Brook
Series: The Iron Seas #1
Cover Art: N/A
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Date Published: October 5, 2010
Review Copy Source: Bought
Reviewed by: Abigail
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.
Mina can’t afford his interest, however. Horde blood runs through her veins, and despite the nanotech enhancing her body, she barely scratches out a living in London society. Becoming Rhys’s lover would destroy both her career and her family, yet the investigation prevents her from avoiding him…and the Iron Duke’s ruthless pursuit makes him difficult to resist.
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.
Take the romance and adventure of The Princess Bride, the swashbuckling action of The Pirates of the Caribbean, mix them together in a zombie infested steampunk England and you get THE IRON DUKE.
The steampunk and paranormal subgenres have been combining with great success lately, The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger, and The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare, and now THE IRON DUKE is the latest title to blend these two genres together in an eerily familiar yet wholly other England, with a sweeping romance that crosses social classes, blood borne nanites, ingenious mechanisms, and truly creepy zombies. What’s not to love?
The world building was especially fascinating as it followed England’s struggle to reform society after destroying a totalitarian regime where the citizens were physically and emotionally controlled (via the nanites infesting their systems) by the enigmatic Horde. My one real complaint about this book is the vague explanation of this group.
But no complaints about the characters. Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth is the bastard offspring result of her mother’s rape by the Horde and the stigma of her birth has made her a social pariah who fights unwaveringly to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Whereas The Iron Duke is a pirate turned national hero because of his role in destroying The Horde. He’s a rogue through and through. Yet when he meets Mina, he is taken by her intellect and character long before he realizes anything about her appearance. A rather innocuous event sparks awareness between these two and from then on The Iron Duke pursues Mina with a determination that would be almost frightening in its intensity if it weren’t so hot.
Overall, THE IRON DUKE is a superb steampunk romance with just enough paranormal elements to satisfy a diehard supernatural junkie like me. I knew how awesome it was when I waited all of ten seconds after finishing it to download the companion story in the anthology BURNING UP. I’m sure I’ll show equal restraint the moment I can get my hand on the next Iron Seas novel.
Sexual Content: References to homosexuality. Vague references to child prostitution. Vague references to forced orgies. Several graphic sex scenes.
Click HERE to read an excerpt from THE IRON DUKE
Previous books in the series:
Burning Up (companion novella)
Also reviewed by: