Releases October 5, 2010
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.Publisher: Berkley
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.
Genre: Steampunk Romance
Single Title/Series: THE IRON DUKE is the first full length novel in Meljean Brook's new steampunk romance series, The Iron Seas.
Cover Thoughts: The cover is a lot more interesting in reality than on the computer with the abundant detail being quite exquisite. The metallic sheen of the machine components is extremely eye-catching and serves as a great highlight for the duller color pallet of the male standing in the port hole. What is especially detailed is the jacket on the cover model which is beautifully and richly textured to the point that it almost looks real. Overall, its unique look will undoubtedly make the cover stand out in a sea of pastels and jewel tones. While not a favorite, I can appreciate the cover's goal which is to portray both steampunk and romantic elements. Seeing as how this is still relatively new territory for the romance world, I think it's a good start.
Why I Read It: I received a review copy from the publisher.
Ten years has passed since England, along with the help of The Iron Duke, wrestled its way from two hundred years of Horde rule yet not nearly enough time has passed to let the past reside firmly in the past. Far from healed, England's people are still grappling with the flood of emotion unleashed with the destruction of the Horde's control tower - a signal tower once communicating with the nanoagents infecting the population. With these nanoagents, or bugs, the Horde controlled their empire by suppressing emotions - especially anger - instigating breeding with Frenzies, and just in general, rendering the population completely immobile and useless in any revolt attempts.
The havoc the Horde once wrecked has been detrimental to a society that has barely gained a foot hold toward success for now in addition to the fear that still persists, poverty and injustice continue to reign. Discrimination is on the rise as those who fled England for the New World are returning with pockets lined with gold and disgust etched in their faces as they look down their noses at the nanoagent infected generations birthed under Horde rule. Those that receive the most disdain from both the bug infected Buggers and the New World Bounders, are the extreme unfortunate that resemble the Mongol Horde, those like Detective Inspector Wilhelmina Wentworth.
Having to endure the daily cruelty thrust her way since childhood, Mina's armor isn't just physical but mental as she fastens a stronghold on her emotions. Outwardly impervious, she hides a deep well of emotion that can only be caught in the span of a glimpse. For those who know Mina, her Horde blood eventually goes unnoticed but to everyone else, Mina represents all that they fear and hate making her a target for their raging anger. Mina understands all this and while her determination to do what she loves makes the brutality no less hurtful, she still has the strength to boldly cleave her way through life. Life's about to drastically change, however, when a body falls from the sky and lands on the stone entry steps of the Iron Duke's front door.
Rhys Trahaearn, known in England as the Iron Duke, is a complex mixture of cold detachment and fierce possession. He's a pirate with an innate sense of danger who wields his own brand of justice. For those who fall within the boundaries of his are protected to the fullest and right now, Rhys would like nothing more than to possess Detective Inspector Wentworth. Never in all his years has he longed to possess a woman but her tangible intelligence, inscrutable emotions, and palpable desire to avoid him at all costs stirs up the smell of challenge that simply can't be ignored. First thinking he'd let Mina's hound-dog nose sniff out the cowardly perp that dropped a body on his door step, events conspire to keep the two on the same path, a path that Rhys would like to imagine leads straight to his bed. But frivolous sex is soon eclipsed by Rhys's desire for Mina's heart.
The last thing that Mina needs in her life is to be dubbed the Iron Duke's whore. She may be the daughter of an Earl but a penniless one at that with her Horde blood being all that the outside world sees. People would talk and believe that the Iron Duke took her to bed for the Horde whore she is as a last slap-in-the-face payback. They'd of course be completely wrong with their cruel assumptions but Mina will not subject her family to the condemnation that they'd ultimately be be forced to endure. But as her proximity with Rhys intensifies, the moment presents itself where Mina can indulge in the touch and the desire that she feels without risking her family. The arrangement would be short lived but its effects would have to sustain her for a life time for no one will ever condescend to truly marry her.
Rhys, relentless in his pursuit of Mina, is determined for her to find trust in the protection he offers. Knowing that the small amount of time they're currently allotted will never be enough to satisfy his ravenous hunger, Rhys tries to prove that he can and will protect her forever but her relentless determination to protect her family stirs up both anger and admiration. But a potential life together will soon be moot if the England bound weapon they're tracking arrives undeterred and successfully destroys the very lives of their families and the hard won freedom that has only just started to sink in.
Mina's a lovely mixture of confident strength and delicate vulnerabilities. She plows through life headless of danger with the goal of protecting the weak and justifying the dead. Her ethics are strict and her job as Detective Inspector is both loved and desperately needed. Her family, born under Horde rule, know nothing of the wealth that the Bounders are arriving with. In this day and age, the aristocracy work to make a living and provide what they can for their families and Mina's job as a Detective Inspector ensures that food goes on the table.
A being of complete emotional control, Rhys ignites a fire within Mina that can't be contained. Her only option is to flee but that only encourages the Iron Duke more. Slowly and with a gentleness that is in complete opposition of the stories that have proceeded the pirate, Rhys chips away at Mina's defenses. Winning her trust takes time and effort but soon her trust is not enough as he works to steal her heart.
Rhys embodies all the traits that a romance reader longs for in her pirate hero. Giant in stature with cold sinister eyes and a black silky mane that barely conceals the gold hoop earrings on the top if his lobes, Rhys can't help but draw attention. His cool detachment and silent confidence demands the loyalty of his crew without a single spoken word and no one is immune to his thrilling presence, not even our buttoned up heroine.
Despite his hulking exterior and the scent of danger that wafts from his muscled body, Rhys has a big heart and evidence of his trustworthiness and his ability to protect those he deems as his becomes glaringly obvious. He's also a man of hidden depths with the capability of an endless and passionate love but no one has been worthy of it until Mina. Rhys's pirate senses recognize a reciprocating loyalty and fearlessness that surrounds the beautiful Detective Inspector. The fact that she'll willing sacrifice her life, which she proves time and again, to save those she loves would make any man long to be a part of those trusted few that Mina calls her own. And Rhys would like nothing more than to be hers.
My Final Thoughts:
Lighter than her Guardian Series, Brook's Iron Seas is a series filled with swashbuckling adventure, rogue pirates, corrupt governments and at its center, a heated core of romance that propels the plot through the seas and the air. The world is endless in scope as new and interesting history, technology, evolution and victories are unveiled. This is a larger than life series that demands and receives larger than life characters. They captivate with their layered depths and thrilling sense of adventure as they embark upon their death defying missions. But beyond that, it's the romance that takes its rightful place at center stage. Unfolding in various degrees, the budding love between the main characters is never forgotten but instead holds tightly to each and every scene. The heat and tension continually builds until its crescendo explodes with satisfying release upon the pages.
Never one to disappoint, Brook delivers a powerful and intense plot that spans England to Africa and back with numerous players and twists to throw you along the way. Never shy when exposing the sometimes horrid extent of human nature, Brook shows you both the very light and the very dark aspects of the Iron Seas Series. Everything from the desperation of the poverty stricken population to the arrogant selfishness of the upper echelon is revealed making for a dark and vibrant backdrop for Rhys and Mina allowing their goodness to shine brightly with supreme believability.
Be prepared to fall in love with Rhys from the first when he sees not the Mongol Horde blood of Mina's heritage but the beautiful, captivating, and thrilling woman that she truly is. A woman he doesn't just long to posses but a woman he's deperate to love, forever.
This is romance people!!!
The Vampire Book Club: 4.5/5
Parajunkee's View: 5/5
Throuthehaze Reads: 5/5
From The TBR Pile: 4.5/5