Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

Posted by Simcha 4:03 PM, under | 3 comments

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.


Through a contaminated shipment of sugar, the Horde conquered England. Soon every citizen was a puppet in the hand of the invaders due to the naanoagents infecting their bodies. Using radio frequencies transmitted from a tower in London, the Horde was able to active the nanoagents and force any infected person to submit to their will. One of the Horde’s cruelest uses of their power was when they set off a “Frenzy" sending everyone infected into a state of uncontrollable lust that forced them to copulate with whoever was nearby. When the pirate captain Rhys Trahaearn, also called the Iron Duke, destroyed the tower in London, the people were set free from the Horde’s control and Rhys automatically became a hero.

Nine years later all the Horde in England have been destroyed, though signs of their occupation still remain. Hatred of the invaders still runs deep and Detective Mina Wentworth has often felt the brunt of it due to her own Horde-like features. The story about Mina's mother is well known, of how she had clawed out her own eyes upon viewing her daughter for the first time, seeing the results of her last Frenzy. And anyone looking at Mina could easily tell that Horde blood runs in her veins. Although her family and close friends provide Mina with unconditional love and acceptance, Mina still feels like an outsider relegated to the fringes of society.

When Mina is summoned to the Iron Duke’s property to investigate a dead body that was found there, Rhys is immediately intrigued by her and is determined to have her in his bed. Mina is just as determined to keep her relationship with the Iron Duke strictly professional, despite the attraction she feels in return. But Mina knows that if she gets involved with Rhys the consequences for herself and her family would be severe, plus she is still scarred from her time under the Horde and is not prepared for an intimate relationship with a man.

Mina is forced to spend more time with the Iron Duke then she had anticipated when the case takes an unexpected turn, pointing to a possible plot that could put all of England in grave danger. Together, Mina, Rhys and an assortment of other characters, travel across Europe and Africa to solve a murder and capture the villains behind it.

When I first came across The Iron Duke I had brushed it off as paranormal romance (which don’t really appeal to me), due to the bare chested male featured on the cover. I don’t think I had even bothered to read the book description. But after reading numerous glowing reviews of The Iron Duke my curiosity was piqued and I set out to find out more about this book. Despite the mention of zombies (*shudder*) the book description actually sounded pretty interesting and when soon afterward the book appeared in my library, I jumped at the opportunity to read it.

To my surprise I ended up enjoying the The Iron Duke immensely.

The Iron Duke contained a unique storyline that was rich and complex, with a wonderful cast of characters who I very much enjoyed spending time with. The world-building was fantastic and the steampunk additions really elevated the story to a whole new level

Although The Iron Duke has more meat to it than most romance novels that I’ve read it definitely
does fall into the romance category. Romance readers will easily recognize the familiar patterns: the arrogant and demanding alpha male, the strong yet vulnerable female who eventually gives in to the male, the obstacles that keep them apart and the requisite sex scenes. And while I enjoyed watching Mina and Rhys’s relationship develop I was disappointed in how closely their relationship followed these romance novel patterns since it seemed out of sync with the rest of the story. I felt like the author had forced Mina and Rhys into the expected roles of romance novel characters even though the the fit wasn’t quite right, especially for Mina.


While The Iron Duke was a bit weak in the romance department
the rest of the story was fantastic and I quickly tore through it, coming to the end faster than I would have liked. The Iron Duke ended up far exceeding my expectations and I very much look forward to the next installment in this series.

3 comments:

I've been reading really good reviews about this one too, but like you the bare chest on the cover is turning me off.

Will read it soon (waiting for my friend to get that anthology where there was a short story ;)

Stephanie: Yeah, if this book had a different kind of cover I probably would have grabbed it up right away. I did end up really enjoying it and I'd highly recommend it to readers of romance novels. For non-romance readers certain aspects of the book might be extremely irritating.

Blodeuedd: I didn't know there was a short story. I wonder what it's about. I'll have to look into it.

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