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.
I’ve had this book sitting on my shelf for some time just waiting for me to get around to it. Well it took a reading challenge and a TBR pile vote, but I did it. And now I’m kicking myself in the pants for putting it off. Talk about a fantastic steampunk world, deep engaging characters, a riveting intrigue style plot, and ho hey, the sweltering passion in a slow-burn romance. Definitely planning on taking this series full steam ahead!
This first book, The Iron Duke, was a great blend of present time action, but a steady release of the complex world of an alternate history steampunk world. The steampunk elements are fundamental to this series instead of just an annoying gadget name drop here and there. I think I was equally taken with the world and elements as the actual plot which was a great blend of mystery, action, passion, and character growth.
It’s based on the premise of what would have happened if Ghenghis Khan and his Mongolian Horde had steamrolled across Europe and even the British Isles using a blend of steampowered and nano-tech weaponry. At the beginning of this story, England is finally free of the rule, thanks to the daring act of one dashing pirate now made a duke. But recovery isn’t so simple. The people who were under horde rule are indelibly altered and looked on differently compared to those who fled, lived in exile, and the new generations are returning and reclaiming family titles and fortunes or jobs. All stratas of society and culture are effected. I found it all quite fascinating.
Beyond fascination, the heroine and the hero are in their own way, outcasts and trying to make their way. Mina struggles under the stain of being the result of her mother being forced by someone from the horde. Her family loves her and she loves them, but they are all tainted and though titled are poor and have little respect. Mini works as a female police detective inspector and must accept a protective constable’s burly strength to keep her safe because of her ‘horde’ features. She has no dreams more than the little she has. The insouciance and free-spirited arrogance of the duke who sees what he wants and takes it is grating on her- but she fears the emotions and desires he raises inside her.
For his part, Rhys Trahaern, the ‘Iron’ Duke of Anglesey, never set out to be a hero. He has been scrabbling after life’s scraps since he was born and raised himself up from abuse and slavery to being a pirate captain until respectability clipped his wings and he channeled his efforts into a merchant and shipping empire. Mini flashes into his life and he is forced to see another perspective. And yet, he is determined to get her to see beyond the cage she has placed herself in to what might be if she will take the chance.
The romance is full of sparks. The pair are combustible. Mina is so strong-willed and stubborn. She is an abuse survivor in her way and must be handled as such, but the ruthless, straight-shooting Rhys who was also abused struggles to understand and has to navigate things carefully with her. They are so full of passion and I don’t just mean sexually- though there was that. I was riveted and anticipating as they drew closer and closer though it did not come easy.
The action part of the plot began as a sort of murder mystery that expanded to involve a secret plot of tremendous proportions. The secretive and powerful Black Guard are a formidable enemy. And some are still loose to wreck havoc in the on going series. There was great fight action and sea battles and woot, we do have a kracken sighting.
All in all, this was a steampunk romance power house that packs many punches to hook in readers well outside the usual steampunk fandom. I am definitely powering up for more passion and adventure with the Iron Seas series.
Romance Roundabout #274 SP
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