Genres: Steampunk Romance
Published by Berkley
Released on July 3, 2012
After being enthralled by the gritty, intense steampunk world of the Iron Seas, I happily signed up to come aboard for a treasure-hunting adventure into zombie infested Horde territory with the deadly Captain Yasmeen and the intrepid opportunist charmer Archimedes Fox.
Heart of Steel is the second novel-length entry in the Iron Seas series and works best following the Iron Duke where both the main characters and the world of the series is introduced. Yasmeen and Archimedes’ story is standalone so could be read out of order, but the world makes more sense if the reader doesn’t skip.
Oh man, I was so ready for this one. In the last book, Archimedes literally gets tossed off Yasmeen’s airship into the waters above Venice which is a zombie-infested town. And, this was with the pair of them feeling a spark of attraction. As a female captain who doesn’t exactly hold true blue and operates in a rough environment where strength makes right, she was forced to take action when he attempted to usurp command of her ship.
In this one, they meet up and are wary, but find themselves in a situation that requires them to team up. I loved all the tension and the intrigue that surrounded the first part of the story when things twisted and turned. Archimedes has a priceless Da Vinci artifact stolen on him and someone uses the situation to take out Yasmeen, too. The twists came again now and then and there are some exciting scenes so that the book read quickly.
I confess that getting the mystery solved about Yasmeen’s past was as fascinating as watching how she and Archimedes could make a go of being together. She is so used to men showing interest, but then trying to take charge of her and her ship. Archimedes is smart and finds a way to show her that he can still be tough and strong and a hero without diminishing her or feeling the need to dominate. He took a slow burn approached and raised need in Yasmeen and built trust so she would be open to gambling on something longer term than a one night roll in the bunk. I love when a couple figures out this balance of power and when a romance develops before my very eyes instead of just leaping past several steps. It didn’t hurt that they had sizzling chemistry, good banter, and pulled not just a few deadly tricks on each other. Ultimately, they went back to back and made it through some tough spots.
Where the first book focused on England and the high seas, this book took things to the Continent and then into North Africa. I loved the variety of the setting, but also going into Horde-held territory and getting more historical background on this alternate history steampowered world.
I really enjoyed the first book, but found this one was as strong as the first and I think the romance pair in this one nudges past the Duke and Mina for my affections. Oh, and Mad Machen and his lady blacksmith get some good scene time in the beginning, too. I can’t wait to dive into the next Iron Seas installment and definitely recommend this series to Steampunk Romance lovers.
Romance Roundabout #176 SPR