Monday, October 25, 2010

Review: The Iron Duke

THE IRON DUKE (A Novel of the Iron Seas #1)
Meljean Brook
Paranormal Romance
378 pages
Available Now

Nine years ago a pirate captain sailed his ship up the Thames and blew the headquarters of the Horde, the ruling power in London, to bits. With their destruction, London was freed of their ruthless control, one made effective through the surreptitious infection of all those living in London with nanoagents. These nanoagents, while harmless when dormant, could be activated through the use of a frequency known solely by the Horde. With it, those infected became mere puppets, either rendered immobile in their bodies or forced into an action dictated by those in power. But all that is over now thanks to the Iron Duke.

Mina remembers the time of Horde control all too well. As the biological result of one of their forced activities, she is a constant reminder to both her family and all of London of what they despise most. She looks Horde, therefore she must be ridiculed, abused, and punished for her resemblance. Such is her life, but she's risen above it and become Detective Inspector, her job now taking her to the doorstep of Rhys, the Iron Duke himself, as a body has been found on his property.

It quickly becomes clear her murder case is just one piece in a quickly expanding puzzle, and the Iron Duke begins to pose a threat to both her investigation and her heart as she finds herself unwittingly attracted to London's greatest hero. Everyone thinks the time of the Horde has passed, but Mina and the Duke come to learn that rebellious pockets still exist, and they represent as big of a threat as ever before.

The world of The Iron Duke is one so lush in detail and accomplished in its creativity the wheels in our minds are forced into overdrive in order to keep pace with the well-oiled gears of rapidly moving plot while our eyes attempt to adjust to the metallic brilliance of shiny new characters. The complexity of the gadgetry is astounding, with remarkable technological advances resulting in mechanical flesh and tiny nanoagents in the blood able to expedite the healing process being prevalent elements, ones responsible for ratcheting up our fascination and curiosity to a level previously thought to be unattainable. Entering this world is akin to being a child again, easily distracted by dazzling objects and utterly enthralled by how things work. We can't help but revel in the newness of it all, mouths hanging open in awe and a dreamy, faraway glaze in our eyes as we attempt to absorb every infinitesimal detail of the experience.

A striking world is thoroughly enhanced by strong characterization, heroine Mina being both compelling in her competence and intelligence while simultaneously captivating in her imperfections. She's emotionally damaged due to a savage history as an instrument of the Horde, but she refuses to let her past and present circumstances define or ruin her. Her backbone, though not made of iron like the Duke's, is forged of something equally and exceedingly strong, allowing her to walk down London's streets amidst jaw-clenching insults and well-aimed spit projectiles. Her budding relationship with Rhys doesn't weaken her fortitude or her dedication to her profession, his presence in her life instead creating a beautiful symbiosis between two characters that have never needed anything outside of protecting what's most important to them. Her reasons for being wary of a physical relationship with the Iron Duke are legitimate, and to watch as she struggles with feelings that have been brutally and forcibly suppressed by the Horde for years while weighing the full repercussions of her every action is emotionally draining but blissfully satisfying.

Rhys is arrogant, possessive, and presumptuous, expecting to be handed whatever he desires with exerting very little effort, but there's something about the way in which he's written that soothes the independent woman in us when she might take offense at his attitude, forcing her instead to stand down and smile begrudgingly at his brutish protectiveness as we secretly root for him to win Mina's affections. He's unabashedly himself, not hiding any aspect of his personality from Mina, and taking from her only what he's willing to return to her tenfold. Though he's intensely alpha male, he is never smothering, and fully backs off when he senses any fear or hesitation emanating from her. Though he is solid, he is also yielding, and despite his possessiveness, he does not simply wish to collect Mina for simple ownership purposes, seeking instead a partner to match him in intelligence and passion.

The only minor issue preventing this book from being utter perfection is every now and then the specifics of this new world are so intricately woven through the story they at times form a complicated web through which it can be difficult to navigate without getting tangled on an unfamiliar term or fragment of detailed history. This flaw is certainly not enough to significantly hinder the refreshing characters and beautifully distinct world though, and I highly recommend this story to anyone who loves a well-developed environment, and who enjoys characters of extraordinary individual power that become a frighteningly glorious romantic tempest when together.

Rating: 4.5/5


  1. Wow, Jenny! This story sounds so amazing, and the characters seem deep, thought-provoking, and fun to learn more about. Excellent review...I'm adding this to my TBR pile now! :)

  2. Sounds awesome! Though I always seem to struggle with complex world buidling. I enjoy it but it usually slows my reading down because I have to re-read stuff to make sure I'm keeping things straight!

  3. Sooooo jealous! AND you gave it a 4.5, so I know it's a damn good read. :) Thanks for the smashing review!

  4. I thought it was an incredible book. I didn't have the world building issue that you did, but I did have to read it much slower to digest it because it was all so new. Perhaps I did, it just manifested itself differently? Great review.

  5. Melissa - It was REALLY good, just very different from everything I've read recently which was fun:)

    Mollie - Can't wait to see what you and your mom think:)

    Ash - You're welcome, hurry up and buy your copy so we can discuss!

    Nicole - I read through this one like a crazy person, so that may be why I had trouble with a few terms/details here and there. Perhaps had I read a normal speed that wouldn't have been an issue;)

  6. WOW! This sounds crazy good! Definitely going to grab a copy of this one.

  7. Great review...I'll pay attention so I don't miss any details!

  8. After reading Twimom's and your stellar reviews, I now have to grab a copy of this book. Is it necessary to read the short story before this book or can I just dive right in?

  9. I agree..this is a great book and such a cool world!! And Rhys and Mina are wonderful together :)

  10. I love your review. You've touched on everything I admired about both the world and about Brook's writing. I'm now rushing out to start reading her other series.

    Such a vivid review!

  11. Preternatural - It is crazy good, you won't be sorry you bought a copy:)

    Midnyte - I should have paid a little closer attention, I just wanted to know what happened so badly I read really fast.

    Rummanah - Do it! And you can just dive right in though the short story is worth a read because it's great as well.

    Mandi - Yes they are, one of my favorite couples this year!

    Jessica - Thank you, I want to read her other series now too!

  12. *SWOON* omg I fell in love with this book, too. And it was my first introduction to steampunk, too. Great review!

  13. Great review. This book has officially been added to my TBR list!

    There's an award waiting for you here. Congrats!

  14. Yea, yea yea!! I'm so glad you liked this book too!! It is definitely one of the best I've read this year!

    Thanks for the review.

  15. Agreed!! This book sounds fabulous! TBR pile, indeed!

  16. Colette - I can't wait for you to read it so we can discuss!

    Pamela - Yay for us steampunk virgins. The Duke was good to us;)

    Carmel - Hope you like it!

    Jen - After reading your review and Mandi and Tori's, I had to get this book and you guys were so right:)

    bibliophile - Can't wait to see what you think!

  17. So many people have said this book is good. I really need to get my hands on a copy. Thanks for the review!

  18. Jenny! What the heck too me so long to follow your reviews?! You are great at sparking interest with insight and mystery. TY!

    I've been dying to read this book for a while now. Something about the way you described Rhys is making me melt! Damn those Alphas with attitude.

  19. Edna - you're welcome, I hope you love it!

    Missie - Why thank you, I try:):) If you like an alpha male hero with some sexy swagger but also a lot of warmth and protectiveness, then you will LOVE Rhys. I hope you give him a try so we can chat about him:)

  20. Your reviews are fabulous and they just get better and better - not that you even need to because you're just such a brilliant reviewer, but still. You sucked me into this world completely - and whereas I was initially a bit reluctant to traverse into the world of this novel because it sounded far too complicated, you just completely managed to sway me. Lovely, lovely review!

  21. Tammy - You're going to make me blush:) The world is a bit complicated, but not so much so that it takes away from the story. Things I didn't fully understand I could gloss over and still get wrapped up in the mystery and romance. Hope you like it if you decide to give it a try!

  22. Love, Love, LOVED this book. Your review is spot on, Jenny. Wonderful job!