From the back cover:
Seductive danger and steampunk adventure abound in the gritty world of the Iron Seas, where nanotech is fused with Victorian sensibilities-and steam.
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.
Admittedly, I am just a few days early for my review. Call it lack of patience, timing, or just plain old I couldn't wait to put my thoughts out there and make you (yes, make you!!!) go out and get this for someone on your Christmas list. Yep, I am that much in love with this book.
From page one, there was something decidedly different about The Iron Duke. So many people seem to be jumping on the steampunk train without truly getting not only the tone but the actual small nuances of their world that the reader starts to feel cheated. (I picked up a supposed steampunk romance this past year and disgustedly had to put it down. The word steampunk was so often rendered that it made me want to make a drinking game up. To help me finish. I'll keep the name to myself, but suffice it to say, it kinda jaded my opinion on steampunk for the rime being.)
At first I felt like I was transported into some alternate universe that felt like a new pair of leather gloves. A tad awkward at first, a little stiff yet snugly comfortable, but the more you wear them, the more it molds to you and makes your more movements that much easier. On world building alone, Meljean Brook dishes out exactly what you would expect and more. The back story and setting give meaning and purpose to each character's reactions more than any other novel I've had the pleasure of reading. No punches pulled here, the author knows her reader can handle any term she throws at them. Which is why The Iron Duke is a book meant to be savored and poured over, and took me a good week (after I found it again, but that's another story along with the crazy schedule that is life) to read each and every single word.
Mina may be a bugger, but her humor and depth of character shine and made me root for her even as she explored the gory details of dead bodies. Ew. Smart, even somewhat, dare I say, cheeky at times and full of character and heart, I loved the Inspector with each and very turn of the page even more. But, any heroine worth her salt has to have a worthy hero. Even if he seems a little rough around the edges.
The Iron Duke reluctantly saved England from the Horde, and his reputation, more often than not, proceeds him. Daring, and just a little dangerous, the Duke does all that he can to get under Mina's carefully controlled exterior...and other things. There was something so manly (sigh) and yet snuggable (what can I say...) about his actions and demeanor that I was hooked from the first.
And even better, the combination of airship travel (goggles, anyone?), intriguing characters (oh, to captain an airship!) with a few zombies and maybe a sea monster thrown in made The Iron Duke steampunk with the hottest amount of steam added to make you want more. Definitely in my top five for 2010, without a doubt!
(Hmm...this review will have its own role in my Happy Holiday Celebration...just sayin.)