Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “Give her a heart of steel.”
“A heart of steel? But…why?”
“Because there is no other way to survive.”
When Captain Yasmeen tossed Archimedes Fox over the side of her ship in The Iron Duke for having the sheer gall of trying to commandeer it, she tosses him in a canal which shows Fox that she wasn’t trying to kill him per say, just give him a little wake up call. She also relieved him of a certain valuable sketch that he desperately needs back. Fox decides that the adventure and the Captain are too much to resist and once again barges back into Yasmeen’s life. Yasmeen agrees to help him recover the sketch, for a small fee, but laughs at his declaration of courting her. When an old friend of Fox’s approaches him for help, Yasmeen and Fox find themselves part of a rebellion in the middle of Horde territory.
Heart Of Steel is an exciting and stimulating read. Fast paced with plenty of humor and gripping action that grabs you at page one. While you don’t lose any of the swash buckling high seas, er, sky adventures nor Ms. Brook’s superb world building whose depth and heart makes this series; Heart Of Steel isn’t as emotionally dark as the first in the series- The Iron Duke. Which is perfect because these characters would never have survived that sort of story line. It’s not often you can find a couple who complement each other as well as these two do. Yasmeen and Archimedes are a fantastic couple whose chemistry and dynamics are off the charts. Their steamy sexual games last well towards the end end and provide us with plenty of entertainment. The best part? They become friends. I love when a couple can freely express passion and sexual desire but still laugh and joke together at the end of the day.
Yasmeen has spent her life making sure that no one disrespects her or questions her right to captain her ship-the Lady Corsair. She is hard but fair. Serious yet able to find the joy in life from smoking her cigarillos to bar fighting. She’ll never give her heart, for she learned the hard way that when you give your heart away, someone always takes it and crushes it. When Fox declares his intentions to fall in love with her, she is startled and confused. While she doesn’t mind sharing her bed with him, she doesn’t understand his need to fall in love.
Archimedes Fox is a risk taker. An adventure seeker who lives to experience all life can offer him. He comes off shallow in The Iron Duke but in here you learn the reasons for his vivacious life style. When he was sick, he received a blood transfusion from someone infected with nanobots to save his life. He then fell under the Hordes control and lost his emotions. When he regains them, Fox vowed that would never happen again so he embraces every experience; good or bad, and feels lucky for the experience. When he tells Yasmeen he is going to love her, he sees it first as another “experience” to try. Even the thought of her breaking his heart doesn’t faze him as it will just be another strong emotion to embrace. By the end though, he realizes that real love is far more dangerous then he expected.
“Ah, “ she said watching his face. Her sneer mocked him. “It is easy to fall in love with a woman who is always making you feel more of a big powerful man. You ought not have picked me, after all.
“That isn’t it.” He didn’t question his abilities. “It is simply difficult to know I offer nothing at all to the woman I’m falling in love with.”
As they sail the skies, searching for a lost lost artifact and fighting off zombies & pirates; each of them comes away with a valuable lesson. Yasmeen learns that love is not a restrictive bond but rather a freeing experience that can uplift and strengthen you. Fox begins to understand that the greatest adventure of all can be had when you let yourself go and accept who and what you are.
“Because I cannot believe I almost lost you today, because it still hurts, and I only have to close my eyes to see that door shattering.”
“Then don’t close your eyes.”
“How can I not? Without that pain, how could I have ever known?”
Wonderfully complex secondary characters engage and uplift this unbelievably realistic alternative world. Throughout the story, we are treated to Yasmeen and Fox’s backgrounds and also some explanation of the political minefield that has engulfed Europe since the defeat of the Horde. The ending comes at you in a blaze of heroic glory; leaving you happily satisfied but ready for book 3.
Heart Of Steel is anther fantastic addition to Ms. Brooks delightful romantic steampunk series. I recommend this to any reader who enjoys strong protagonists, devilish dialog, delish romances, and engaging adventure.
Overall Rating: B+