Genres: Steampunk Romance
Published by Berkley
Released on November 4, 2014
I came late to the Iron Seas steampunk romance series, but I fell hard as soon as I started reading the opening pages of the Iron Duke. I devoured each novella and novel in the series and now have come to the last remaining unread installment, The Kraken King. I’ve had it on my shelf for several months, but I knew once I read it that I would be out of Iron Seas adventures. But, alas, it was time. I bucked up and dove in thanks to the nudge from a few of my reading challenge requirements. Adventure and excitement steampunk-style did indeed await and I had a nice long series of connected tales to finish things off right.
The Kraken King is book four in the Iron Seas series. A new reader could do all right jumping in at this book, but they would constantly feel like they had missed a great deal since there are constant references to other characters and situations. This was originally a serial story which is evident when the reader begins, but it has been edited to make a nice cohesive novel.
Kraken King introduces a new hero, new geographic setting and situation, but the heroine has been a side character since book two. Zenobia Fox is the sister to the hero, Archimedes Fox in Heart of Steel. She’s a writer who uses her brother’s adventures, real and imagined, along with adventures for Yasmeen, Archimedes wife, in her popular books. She hides her identity as the writer and as Archimedes’ sister because of the danger. Her quiet life of writing about others has her dissatisfied and wanting her own adventure so when a childhood friend decides she needs to go around the world to join her ambassador husband at his posting, Zenobia goes along. Little did she know that her own dangerous adventure awaited in the form of the infamous Kraken King, an old smuggling partner of her brother’s.
Ariq doesn’t know what to make of Miss Inkspell, but he knows she is lying and hiding secrets. He’s intrigued in the woman he rescued from an airship attack, but also has his hands full with governing his town on the wild Australian continent, looking after his brother, and figuring out what the mysterious marauders are up to with their odd attacks on random airships that don’t appear to be for profit or any other gain he can see.
The action-packed intrigue and adventure along with spicy romance are good strong elements, but I also appreciate the creative world the author has written and developed across all her books. I love how each major novel and some of the novellas expand across the Iron Seas’ world. The Kraken King is far from Europe and focuses on the Australian and Nipponese (Japanese) culture that did their own freedom fighting against the Hoarde that spread from Mongolia in their direction just like it did across the Asian subcontinent, Africa, and Europe. I love that I could anticipate a new exotic setting along with a new group of characters with this one.
I enjoyed Ariq and his backstory. He was a fun rascal and is straight up with his words and his feelings. He is blunt and shocking, but oh so tempting to a woman like Zenobia who writes a good game, but has little experience. Zenobia was something of a hang up for me. I get why she thought she had to keep secrets particularly about who she was because she’d been in danger before when people knew her identity. However, there was a part of me that it didn’t sit well when she was hiding that she’s a writer and treating everyone and everything around her like fodder for her books. I give her credit that she kept what was between her and Ariq off limits, but that was for selfish reasoning. And, here’s the thing, she stuck out and drew attention that she supposedly didn’t want with her scribbling her notes and poking and prodding with questions. She was asking to be whisked into the damsel in distress role. So, it took me a while to warm up to her, but I did enjoy her and Ariq together as they brought their own talent to the table and had a nice opposites attract thing sizzling between them.
The build up was good if a bit lagging at times before the end and I was well satisfied with what I got. I’m sad it is all over. This is without doubt one of my favorite steampunk romance series and one I will not hesitate to push at anyone looking to start the genre or needing a great steampunk world full of colorful characters, suspense, gritty action, and an exciting, clever world.
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