Title: The Iron Duke
Author: Meljean Brook
Genre: Paranormal, Steampunk Romance
Publisher: Berkley October 2010
Book One in the Iron Seas presents us with a London still feeling the ravages of two centuries of Horde occupation. Your hero, Rhys Trahaearn, destroyed the Tower that enslaved the nanoagent-infected people of London and freed those who now idolise him.
Your heroine, Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth, is despised by Londoners for the Horde blood running through her veins. Mina was conceived after a ‘Frenzy’, the product of rape, her looks a constant reminder of centuries of slavery. Not a day goes by without a curse, or being spat on, or attempted assault. Despite coming from a noble house, money is scarce, and Mina has to earn a living.
Polar opposites, brought together by a mysterious corpse. Sounds like fun? There’s also pirates, zombies, kraken and megaladon.
A meticulously crafted world, heavy on the nanotech and automata, vivid in imagery, countered with impossibly human characters.
While I had some early reservations about Rhys taking the boorish dominant male route, thankfully he allows Mina to steal the show. Mina is richly layered, her great vulnerability covered with an independence, intelligence and a quiet dignity.
The supporting cast includes the wonderful Lady Corsair, airship Captain and pirate; Mina’s assistant, the delightfully stuffy Constable Newberry; and an often soused Scarsdale provides a great deal of well-timed humour.
If that’s not enough to satisfy you there is an epic battle at sea with a terrifying monster.
Action-packed steampunk romance meets sci-fi meets fantasy meets suspense. And don’t forget the zombies.