The Iron Duke: A Penny Dreadful Review
There comes a time in every Steampunk's life when their thoughts turn to sweeter pursuits than gear-crafting. When these desires occur, the best way to ease them is with a good romance. Fortunately, I have happened upon just the book. I highly recommend slaking your lusts with The Iron Duke, by Meljean Brook.
But Miss Merriweather, you may protest, just because I want to read about people falling in love does not mean that I want a goopy comedy of manners! Fortuitously, this is not that book. The Iron Duke is also a high-stakes adventure in a fascinating world.
Meljean Brook puts a lot of attention into creating her world of the Iron Seas. Armor-plated kraken and megalodons terrorize sea traffic. Zombies roam an abandoned Europe. England has just struggled out of the choking grip of the Horde Empire thanks to the titular Iron Duke, Rhys Trahaearn, a pirate, rogue, and beloved public figure.
The Horde are the descendants of Genghis Kahn's army. The swept across China, then lay in wait for a few hundred years, developing frightening technologies - war machines, terrifying beasts, tiny, mind and body controlling bugs that they smuggled into England and Englishmen via tea and sugar. When the time was ripe, they invaded Europe, enslaving or slaughtering the populace.
Inspector Mina Wentworth, the result of an impoverished countess and a Horde rapist, must solve a murder that lands on the Iron Duke's doorstep. Literally. The victim was thrown from an airship. When the Inspector and the Duke meet, sparks fly. If Mina gives in to her frightening desire, it could destroy her career and her family. Trahaearn nearly goes mad with the unfamiliar sensation of wanting something he cannot possess. Meanwhile, a shadowy organization known as the Black Guard is trying to obtain a weapon that could kill every Englishman who survived the Horde.
If I had a complaint, it would be about Trahaearn's possessiveness. It's disturbing to me that he initially goes after Mina as if she is a prize to own. This character trait may not bother you, but it did me. As the relationship develops, their footing becomes more equal and one understands the Duke's motivations more. He turns out quite likable.
I give The Iron Duke four gears out of five. I couldn't put it down. The adventure is gripping and the sex scenes (because eventually Mina does succumb) are scorching and erotic. I highly recommend this as a late night read. I am now on a quest for the sequel, Heart of Steel.
Your Correspondent From The Bookstore,
Penny J. Merriweather