Review: The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

Posted November 9, 2017 by Sophia Rose in Reviews / 10 Comments

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Review: The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook
The Iron Duke

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Series: The Iron Seas
Genres: Steampunk Romance
Published by Berkley
Released on October 5, 2010
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Giveaway
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The Delight

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.
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Romance Roundabout #274 SP
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About Meljean Brook

Book info: I am the author of the Iron Seas steampunk romance series. I’ve written a guide to the world (including a map) on my website.

I also write a paranormal romance series, the Guardians. That series guide is also on my website, including a “The Story So Far” feature, which allows you to catch up on all of the books that previously released in the series if you start after the first installment.

Goodreads info: I am slowly, slowly adding to my shelves and reviews. It’s unlikely that I will join many book discussions (especially of my own work) simply because I don’t want to stifle reader conversation.

Bio: Meljean was raised in the middle of the woods, and hid under her blankets at night with fairy tales, comic books, and romances. She left the forest and went on a misguided tour through the world of accounting before focusing on her first loves, reading and writing–and she realized that monsters, superheroes, and happily-ever-afters are easily found between the covers, as well as under them, so she set out to make her own.

Meljean lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and daughter.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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4 years ago

I don’t normally read this genre, but there sure looks like a lot is going on to keep a person’s attention. Glad you pulled this one off the shelf and enjoyed it so much, Super Sophia! Hugs…RO

Sophia Rose
4 years ago
Reply to  RO

Oh yes, this is a definite attention grabber. I was bowled over by the clever world she created.
Thanks for the visit, Radiant Ro!

Alyssa Susanna
4 years ago

Whaaaaaat. Ghengis Khan, steampunk, slow-burn romance? Why had I not heard of this book?! I’m glad you dug it out of your TBR and gave it a shot it worked out for ya! 😀

Have a great day. =)

Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

Sophia Rose
4 years ago
Reply to  Alyssa Susanna

Its a dandy of a story with all that it has going on. I loved her alternate history premise that brought the Mongolian Horde into it. 🙂

I’m pretty glad to have picked it up finally, too.

You have a good one, too, Alyssa!

Debbie Haupt
Debbie Haupt
4 years ago

This looks good Sophia Rose and Wow this is the first time I’ve ever heard Ghengis Khan and Steampunk in the same sentence but obviously it worked for you. so this is book 2?

Sophia Rose
4 years ago
Reply to  Debbie Haupt

Yeah, that blend kind of startled me, too. It was neat what she did with it all.

No, this is book one. I’m getting a late start on this series. Story of my reading shelves. LOL

Carole's Random Life
4 years ago

This sounds great! This book has been on my radar for such a long time. I should probably actually try to read it at some point 🙂

Sophia Rose
4 years ago

See, now, that was me. It’s been sitting there just waiting for me and now I had a grand time with it. Hope you get the chance soon, Carole. 🙂

Melanie Simmons
4 years ago

This sounds really good. I’ve wanted to try Meljean Brook for a while. I’ve got to get these on higher on my TBR.

Melanie @ Hot Listens & Rabid Reads

Sophia Rose
4 years ago

Yeah, I let it set so long on the shelf. I’m glad it got picked for the TBR winner. I have to dig out my Burning Up anthology from wherever it wandered off to because it has the prequel in it and then I’ll go forward with the rest of the series.