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on 13 January 2013
I first came across Meljean Brook's work in a short story, and was favourably impressed, mainly by the fact that the werewolf heroine was capable and reasonable.

So I was delighted to find the female lead in the Iron Duke is equally wonderful. She doesn't simper, or wallow, or flutter. She examines corpses, thinks independently, endures bigotry, and seems incapable of being intimidated.

The world is also pretty great. No holds barred, this is a gritty, unjust, grimly steam punk Britain populated by just as many racists as deeply caring indivuals. No pink fluffiness at all.

The story line is damn fine. It has the political, social and economic flavour of the early - mid 19th C. Plus steam punk seamlessly added to the mix. And of course, this means that the story has echoes of Hornblower, Sharpe, Regency romances and my dimly remembered history lessons from school.

Is it perfect? No. The hero doesn't have the same emotional depth as the heroine (despite the kind of backstory which would entitle him to so much e-depth he should be sinking!). There are some editing errors. I tended to forget who some characters were, when referred to in conversation. I found it a little suspicious that ships could be tracked across open sea with barely mentioned navigation (missed steam punk opportunities there), and travel by airship didnt seem to be affected by weather, or prevailing wind direction.

Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and will be reading the next in the series.
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on 8 May 2017
Unlike many modern steampunk this story is set in our world if the Mongols had conquered the world. Nanoagenst makes people stronger and makes it possible for them to survive in the smogridden London. while genetic enhanced cats hunt rats and the unsuspecting in the streets megladon and kraken patrols the oceans. What I really liked about the whole universe is that unlike many steampunk story's this is not just a romance with one ore two corsets and some bronze. this is a complete universe and a thought in what if.
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on 26 October 2011
How can I possibly give this book anything but 5*?!

By necessity, there's a lot of exposition at the start of this story, so it was a little difficult to get going - but it's so well worth staying with it, because when the Iron Duke himself hits the scene, it moves along at a steamy and breathtaking pace.

Mina is a well-written and believable heroine with a lot of depth, and Trahaern is, quite simply, glorious. The supporting cast of characters are equally strong, particularly Yasmeen, and they really immerse you in the tale being woven.

In my humble opinion, this novel defines what the steampunk romance genre is all about. Superb!
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on 17 June 2018
One of my favourites. Such a fab story with such an awesome setting. Love the strong lead characters and the emotional connection that builds between them. Love books with such a strong feminist hero and heroine.
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on 25 November 2014
Clever, witty and full a wonderful characters. I so enjoyed the story, "The Iron Duke" I really had to read the short story that followed. Very good indeed.

I am completely hooked on the Steampunk world of Meljean Brook: I cannot wait for more stories about Mina, her amazing family, friends and her incredible 'lover'. More please.
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on 30 May 2015
I love this book. I love the settings, the atmosphere, and the the world created by the author. The characters are marvelous, larger than life but very human too. It's funny and poignant and clever, and I recommend it highly.
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on 13 September 2014
Not so keen on steam punk but liked the story line with the Duke & Mina in an alternate London, England after 'the Hoard' conquered and were repelled.
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on 18 December 2010
SEt in a totally different world, sort of Victoriana on steroids. Steam is the only propulsion method as the internal combustion engine (ie petol/diesel) never made it. The Horde (eventually I worked out that they were Chinese/Oriental) invaded Europe and England several hundred years previously after infecting the westerners with nanoagents (bugs) via imported tea and coffee. Those who could afford to fled England for the USA to avoid the infection - but they still considered themselves English. Once enough people were infected, the Horde set up control towers that quashed resistance (and emotions, and could control people physically. The Horde also alter people surgically, giving them 'enhancements' so that they can do specific jobs (so miners have their hands replaced with mining tools, seamstresses with sewing tools etc etc - think Borg from Star Wars). Occasionally the Horde need more workers, so they use the control towers to instigate a Frenzy where random matings happen. THe children created like this get brought up by creches. Several hundred years later, Rhys, a pirate/privateer captain, storms the control tower in London, which leads to a revolt that drives the Horde from England and Europe. A few years after the Horde have been expelled from England, the 'English' in the USA start to return. True to form they are Puritanical and slightly evangelical in their beliefs about purity and what constitutes a human being. THey take back their ancestral seats (the aristocrats do, anyway) and they start to take up positions of authority too.
London can't be lived in without being infected by the nanoagents - this is because of the pollution. THe nanoagents may give the Horde control, but they also confer superior healing power and strength although there is a down side that serious injuries may cause the nanoagents to go into overdrive and cause death by 'bug fever'. Something that isn't quite explained is how the zombies came about, but they are somehow linked to the nanoagents.
Mina is the product of a Horde frenzy, her aristocratic mother and father kept her, but her Horde features give away her genetics, so she is badly treated. Despite being a detective inspector, she needs a body guard to walk around London. Mina and Rhys meet when Mina is called to investigate a dead body discovered in Rhys' mansion. He wants her, she doesn't feel she can have him (particularly due to the newspaper cartoons and flyers that go round when it's discovered that they know each other). As they solve the crime they fall in love - although neither of them care to admit it - and also discover that the crime is bound up with the Black Guard - a sort of Nazi/Evangelical movement devoted to purifying England by getting rid of all those infected with nanoagents. It all ends with the inevitable HEA, although it's nicely handled.

Now, what to say. I've already mentioned that the zombies aren't explained, and neither is Rhys' iron skeleton, nor is the importance that he is born with nanoagents and not infected by them. Apparently his nanoagents can't be controlled by a Horde device, which is how he manages to destroy the control tower, but you sort of have to work this out rather than have it explained. And this is the problem, minor tho' it is, with this book. IT's a great story, set in a great world, with great characterization and a good romance, but there are issues that just aren't explained quite enough. I am, however, intrigued enough with this instalment to be willing - if not quite eager - to read the next one. And I may even investigate the whole steam punk genre... maybe.
6 people found this helpful
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on 13 April 2012
This book is set in an interesting world with a lot of dramatic possibilities and based on the sample/reviews I read, I settled in to what I was sure was going to be an absorbing read. Then the hero was introduced and for me the novel fell apart.

Meljean Brooks took a seriously wrong turning when she decided how Rhys would overcome Mina's emotional demons. He is depicted as a strong and honourable male lead who protects everything he feels is his own. Nothing wrong with that, you might say. Well, the problem for me was that HE decides whether or not you belong to him and HE decides whether or not you want to have sex with him. That doesn't seem honourable or protective to me. He ignores the word 'no', he ignores crying and begging. You see, he knows what Mina really wants better than her own feeble little female brain does. At worst he's a rapist and at best he's...no, he's still just a rapist. Some hero.

This could have been such a fantastic book, so fantastic that I've still given it three stars because I genuinely liked the environment, the technology and all of the other characters. Shame about the hero.
One person found this helpful
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on 21 November 2012
A very disappointing book. The steampunk elements are very well written, although it's very confusing when there is no real distinction between airships and ocean ships, for a while I flicked back and forth and gave up instead. But many of the cultural elements are interesting. There seemed to be very little actual explanation of the Horde - perhaps this is being saved for follow-on books, however I certainly won't be reading any more.
The reason? The two main characters - Mina gives every appearance of being a 'strong' female character, and yet, it would seem, what the author thinks this type of woman *really* needs is to be raped. Repeatedly. Rhys the pirate sees her as his property (despite his oh-so-tragic backstory) and focuses his every effort on bending her to his will. Once he has 'broken' her, then he's fine with her getting her own way some of the time. But essentially she is overcome by her terrible lust for him and he merrily takes advantage in every way. He is temporarily upset when he realises that he has crossed deep, personal boundaries and violated her trust in him, but it doesn't last long. Even after a lengthy separation, all it takes for him to reestablish their relationship is another quick rape. Not even a marriage proposal - although it seems that's good enough for Mina (what? seriously?)
Overall it's a real shame, but I put it down feeling ill. It's like retro porn where no doesn't really mean no, and can be an enthusiastic yes if only the man can force her - sickening.
4 people found this helpful
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