Title: The Iron Duke
Author: Meljean Brook
Published: October 5th 2010 by Berkley Trade
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.
So, this is my first Meljean Brook and my very first Steampunk book. But not my last.
Okay, this book is definitely something else. Let me start with the worldbuilding. This book has pirates and their ships, airships, zomies, kraken, megalodons and great gadgets. Oh, and the Iron Duke. :) No, but seriously, you seldomly find a book that is more detailed, imaginative and mindblowing in its worldbuilding. I just love it when everything is very carefully planned and thought through. Even the fictional/alternative history in the book!
And if even the character live up to the overall awesomeness, I´m totally happy. Mina, our heroine in this book is a strikingly modern woman in worls that reminds of the late 19th and early 20th century. I loved how she stood up to her mother when they discussed divorces. She grows up in an England that is dark and the people are twisted and misshapen. More than any one else, she has to suffer from a horrible stigma: her face bears the features of the race that oppressed England for so long: The Horde. Her everday life is definitely not a walk in the park, yet she does everything to help her family and to be strong for them.
Strong is also one of the adjectives to describe the Iron Duke. Along with ruthless, relentless and determined. A true pirate, he gets what he wants and he is not afraid to take it. Even when it is a woman. I had to take a breath or two over his bluntness sometimes. He is very much alpha, sometimes a tad too much for my liking, but in the end, it didn´t really matter in this book.
My most favorite secondary character was Yasmeen, the Lady Corsair. A fierce female pirate is sometimes even better than a male one! :)
For me, my first steampunk adventures was truly engrossing, surprising and seductive! I want more of it! NOW!
4.5 out of 5 stars