Monday, June 10, 2013

Review: The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook


Title: The Iron Duke (Iron Seas, #1)

Author: Meljean Brook

Rating: 4 Stars

First and foremost, I have a confession to make: I only read half of this book via audio book before switching to a physical copy. Now, to quickly clarify, the audio for The Iron Duke is phenomenal. Its narrator is engaging, builds the atmosphere of this world perfectly, and manages to touch upon a few different voices as well. Yet, for a reader like me who is recently immersing herself in the world of audio books, this was tough to follow, full of intricate world-building details that I would have loved to pore over and think about with a physical book but had to struggle to comprehend with an audio book. Thus, I wouldn't recommend the audio version of this unless you are used to audio books of all genres and varieties.

Now, that being said, it's safe to say I'm practically in love with this Kraken-invested world and sexy book that just oozes with intelligence, politics, and murder. Seriously, Meljean Brook might as well have written this just for me. Not only is The Iron Duke an excellent example of real steampunk, complete with gadgets and rich in world-building, but it is also a steamy romance that managed to capture my heart, despite its unsteady beginning. I'd much rather avoid going into the intricate details of the world, mostly because I don't want to have to take the time to describe it and partly because discovering it is what makes this novel such a delight, but I will say that our world isn't the same. The Horde is a deadly group that was destroyed by the Iron Duke years ago, but not before they controlled the emotions of the people and raped many women, giving them bastard children. Mina Wentworth, female detective and kick-ass heroine extraordinaire, is one of these children and cannot escape her features or the sneers that follow her. When a man falls from an airship, only to lie dead in the mansion of the Iron Duke, Mina slowly uncovers the beginnings of a conspiracy - one that spell the return of the Horde.

When Rhys, the Iron Duke and hero of the world, first sees Mina, he instantly wants to possess her. As an alpha male with a capital A, it seemed as if Rhys and I were doomed to clash, but thankfully, Mina saves the day - on more than one occasion. Mina can hardly believe that Rhys genuinely wants her, a woman who is rejected by all of society, but instead of falling into his bed, she keeps her distance and isn't afraid to get out her pistol when she needs to. Folks, I effing love Mina. If I had to pick one heroine to make my sister, I'd pick Mina. Not only is she strong and fearless, but her quick mind and sharp wit make her banter with Rhys a delight, not to mention their discussion of politics. In solving the murder mystery at hand, Mina doesn't disappoint, keeping her mind focused on her mission despite the steamy romance that brews on the side. Admittedly, after his initial appearances, Rhys had a long way to win my heart, but he quickly came to admire Mina and fall for her mind, not just her body. Although he could be pushy initially, he quickly understood that the key to Mina's heart was not forcing her and he listened when she said no - all factors that slowly, slowly made me fall for him as our hero. Additionally, though Rhys's PoV is sparse, it appears at the perfect times, giving us an ideal insight into his actions and good intentions. As a self-made hero, one who emerged from the ashes of slavery, Rhys still doesn't have a good excuse for being an ass in the beginning of this novel, but as he grows and changes, so do our feelings for him.

Not to be outdone, though, the secondary characters in this novel are just as entertaining. In fact, I am itching to get my hands on the sequel because of my love for two of them, not to mention their swash-buckling pirate adventures, complete with zombies. Honestly, The Iron Duke has everything you can think of - and more. It has my favorite kind of slow, steady, and steamy romance, all pushed into a wide backseat to give room for the adventure at hand. Although the beginning of this novel can be tough to get into at first, mostly because of the thorough immersion into a new world, it is utterly worth it since, before long, it's practically impossible to think that Mina's world is not as real as your own. And Mina! Mina, Mina, Mina. Just read this book for her. Very rarely do I come across kick-ass heroines whose strengths lie in their inner courage, outward strength, and sharp mind, but Mina hits all those boxes and creates more of her own. If Meljean Brook's other novels are anything like this one, then it's safe to say she's made a fan out of me.

Title: Mina Wentworth and the Invisible City (Iron Seas, #1.5) 

Author: Meljean Brook

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Gosh, this had me squealing like the fan girl I seem to have become overnight. Or rather over just a few daylight hours of reading. No matter. Mina Wentworth and the Invisible City is a novella, though not too short thankfully, that details the marriage of Mina and Rhys alongside the everyday troubles they face. Honestly, I love reading about the long haul to make a marriage work just as much as I love reading about the journey to finding "The One" and although this book doesn't necessarily outline problems in Mina's marriage - because it's kind of perfect and lovely, really - it does address the issue of Rhys's constant worry over Mina and protectiveness. What I loved about it, in particular, is that Rhys never contains Mina. Not only does he allow her to keep her position - and her title of Inspector Wentworth - but he respects and takes pride in her occupation. Gone is the Rhys who, for a short while, reminded me of Christian Grey. No, this Rhys is kind and caring and understanding and he allows - and loves - that his wife is fiercely independent. We also get to see more of Anne, the small tinker girl Mina befriends, in this novel and I really loved how everything came together, both with the murder mystery and with them as a family. All in all, not a necessary novella, but an engaging and entertaining one that all fans of Mina and Rhys will want to get their hands on.

15 comments:

  1. I love the sound of a slow and steady romance. I think that's so often overlooked in a good novel. The characters also sound extraordinary...I just worry that with a slow beginning, I just wouldn't be able to get into the first book and become invested in the second. Great reviews, Keertana! :)

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  2. I'm new to audiobooks and on my first few... Reads? Listens? I got quite confused with the world-building and characters and all since I'm a reader who loves to reread lines or go back to previous chapters just to get the full effect of the story :) Though this book sounds phenomenal and I might make it my very first steampunk read!! Loved this review!

    Alicia @ Summer Next Top Story

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  3. Oh yeah, this would definitely be a hard one to listen to on audio Keertana! There's just so much going on in this world and so many new gadgets and what not, I remember having to go back and read things a couple times over before I could actually get a picture in my head of what things looked like. Audio would make that even harder if you're new to audio books I would think! So glad once you switched over you ended up loving it though:) Love me some Rhys!

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  4. I loved this so much too! Alternate history steampunk is my favorite kind, I much prefer it over regular Victorian/Edwardian steampunk, and Meljean is the best. Honestly, there's no one like her (well, maybe Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris' Ministry of Peculiar Occurences, but that's different).

    I also love that she always does these epilogue-type novellas. I'm a huge fan of (useful) epilogues - not the Harry Potter/Clockwork Princess kind, but you know, good ones. :)

    I hope you're enjoying your time with Yasmeen and Archimedes.

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  5. You've got to stop reading so many Urban Fantasies that sound AMAZING!!! Gosh, this is another series that I want to start. I love Mina already, and though I do like an alpha male, I like one that grows up even better, and I'm glad that he and Mina find a balance in their relationship.

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  6. Dang, this sounds fantastic, Keertana!! I love a good, slow romance that doesn't take up the forefront of the novel. It's great to see that this is exactly what happened with this book! Not to mention Mina. She seems like a person I would die to meet in real life, honestly. And it's fantastic that after a slightly rocky beginning, Rhys really became a character that you could bond with, Keertana.

    Lovely review as always, my dear! <3

    -Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

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  7. I've heard such great things about this book and have yet to try it. Your foray into audio and why you switched actually made me want to know this world even more. Oh, I'm so going to have to try this one soon!

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  8. I only started the first book and then got distracted with other books and never got back to it (BOO!) and now you've got me excited again. I do agree that this is a world that probably does better reading rather than listening. It's just a tad too complicated to absorb it all that way. So glad you enjoyed it!

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  9. One day I shall properly try audiobooks! I can def see how it's hard to keep up with audiobooks when there are so many details. I'm glad you liked these books overall!

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  10. I adore my kickass Mc's and Mina sounds like someone that I would enjoy being around too. The Iron Duke I think is something I would not have considered giving a go if it hadn't been for your review Keertana. It sounds so out of my comfort zone but like so much fun, that I know I must give it a try! Wonderful reviews! :)

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  11. I totally can understand you about switching to physical copy. From time to time I start the audiobook but my concentration just falls and I can't follow the book. I'm really happy to see that you liked this one. I haven't heard of this series but sounds really great. Great review Keertana :)

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  12. I have never heard of this series before but it looks pretty good!I'm glad you enjoyed this.

    Lovely reviews, chick! <33

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  13. I love when I read one paragraph of your review, pause to go add said book to my Goodreads TBR, and then come back to finish. :P

    Can I just express my love for books where there's an alpha male and the female he wants doesn't let him get away with all that alpha male shit and just lie down for him? I'm in love with Mina already. I also prefer my romance to be steamy and slow and background to some good action. Needless to say, I'm sold (and I may just try the audio, though I totally know what you mean about world building being harder to follow that way. I concur and I listen to a lot of fantasy that way.)

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