Series: The Iron Seas #1
Author: Meljean Brook
Pages: 384 (Paperback)
Release Date: October 5, 2010
Purchase: Amazon•TBD (affiliate link)
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.
Steampunk is very hit or miss for me, and I’m sad to say that The Iron Duke was another miss. Mina Wenworth is a detective inspector who is called away from a ball for a case. A man was dropped by Rhys Trahaearn’s front door and no one knows who he is or why he’s dead or why he was delivered to the duke. Mina quickly figures out the man’s identity and where it came from, only to also discover that he was on the same airship as her younger brother. Of course, that drives her to solve the case and right into Rhys’s arms.
The Iron Duke has a very interesting world, but the world-building is kind of lacking. From what I gathered, the Horde took over Europe using nanobots. These bugs could be used to control people remotely, including sending them into a mating Frenzy (which is how Mina was conceived). But then one of their control towers was blown up and the people are free again, but there are zombies everywhere. Also, people have mechanical parts because obviously. Rhys has a metal skeleton and I have no idea how he got it. Everyone hates Mina for being half-Horde, and I have no clue what that means. We’re just reminded about a million times that she has black hair. Black hair is evil apparently. I don’t know. Like I said, the world building is bad.
The romance of The Iron Duke is even worse. Upon their first meeting, Rhys tells Mina that he will have her. Does she get a say? Nope. He will have her and that’s that. She repeatedly tells him no, but he knows that it’s inevitable. He took possessive alpha male to a whole other level. Their first sex scene? He forces himself on her. At least he has the decency to be ashamed when he realized that no did not in fact mean yes. But then he undid that by blaming alcohol.
Mina is terrified of sex and overwhelming feelings of lust because of the Frenzy. That is 100% understandable. It is not okay for Rhys to demand to “fix” her by having sex with her through her fear, which is basically what their relationship becomes. It’s uncomfortable and not sexy. Then toward the end, when they’re reunited, she again tells him NO, but he has sex with her anyway. I think we’re suppose to assume that she really wanted it but was afraid he’d leave her again, but that’s never made clear. It’s just, again, uncomfortable.
As for the plot, I really didn’t care. I wanted to know who that dead man was, and I hoped Mina would rescue her little brother. But once those things happened, there was still a lot of book left. Until it was mentioned again, I had completely forgotten that she and Rhys were also supposed to find out about Dr.Freeze’s freezeray along the way. Then they find it and it’s over, and dramatics happen, and then that horrible sex scene I already mentioned. Not very fun.
The Iron Duke was just a mess. I don’t know why I have such a hard time with Steampunk, but for this one it’s absolutely because of the lack of world-building and the rapey hero.