The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook (The Iron Seas #1)
October 5, 2010
Trade Paperback, 336 Pages
Reviewed by Mandi and Tori
Two hundred years ago, The Horde hid nanoagents inside tea and sugar, and traded these goods with England. No one thought of anything – until the Horde activated the bugs. Using radio signals, the Horde was able to control everyone infected with these bugs – control their emotions and actions– their lust, anger, everything.
But a pirate by the name of Rhys Trahaearn had some tricks up his sleeve and took down the Horde by blowing up their signal tower. Now eight years later, our story starts. Because of Rhys, also known as The Iron Duke, and his heroic efforts, he has been pardoned for all his naughty wrong doings as a pirate, and he now holds the title of a Duke. But he is a Duke that now has a dead body on his front steps.
When a dead body is found, Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth is called. Mina’s birth is the result of one of those times the Horde ramped up the lust. She has Horde blood within her, and is reminded of it on a daily basis. People despise her and she is often threatened. Her family is not wealthy, but there is love, and Mina works very hard to help provide with them. When word comes to her that she has to meet with The Iron Duke to discuss a dead body on his property, the headstrong Mina has a moment of panic. She must meet the beloved Duke – but Mina puts up her chin and gets on with her work.
Rhys sees Mina – and isn’t disgusted with her bloodline – in fact, he feels stirrings of possessiveness, and claims her as his. Mina of course wants nothing to do with him – although she can’t help but be impressed not only with his physical presence but his steadfast attitude. Rhys protects what is his, and will literally stop at nothing to make that happen. Soon Rhys decides Mina is his, and when Mina learns her younger brother could be involved in this murder investigation, the only man who may have a chance at saving him, is the one man that shakes Mina to her core.
Mandi: Can I just say The Iron Duke is amazing and you must read it, the end? I really can’t do this book justice in this review. I’ve never read anything like this before. I can’t even wrap my mind around the world Meljean Brook has created. The book starts eight years after the Horde has collapsed, and not only is the terror of when the Horde was in control presented to us in this book, but the aftermath of everyone left who was infected is very much dealt with. Mina can’t be with Rhys because she is terrified of the ridicule. Her family’s name can’t afford to be dragged through the mud. Oh she likes Rhys – a lot- but she is such a strong, mature heroine, dedicated to her family, she would rather live a dull life, than do anything to harm her loved ones. She is so tough – on the outside and inside:
Know her? Arrogant, insufferable knacker. He knew nothing about her.
And she didn’t need her weapons to get him away from her. Not when he was so stupid as to come this close.
Her hand shot to the front of his breeches, making claws of her fingers and trapping his genitals in a tight grip. He froze. As if testing, she hefted the firm weight she found. Heavy, but so very delicate.
She bared her teeth. “And even in the dark, now I’ll know that I’m ripping off the right cods.”
So, Tori – I have a massive love affair with Mina. But Rhys isn’t so bad himself. How are you feeling about this book, this world, and these characters?
Tori: First off, my favorite quote:
" I wouldn’t fire back if I was out gunned."
" Yes, I imagine he possesses a rather large cannon."
Once I started this story I could not put it down. Seriously. The world building is stunning. Using a perfect blend of past and future components-we are transported into a starkly unique and dangerous world in where pirates and mechanical monsters run the air and sea. PIRATES! Squeee!!
Set in historical England, the villainous Horde used mechanical bugs to subjugate and control the population. Through sugar. Simply brilliant. (ummm…I drank my coffee black all day today.) Even though the Horde was defeated by the Iron Duke, England is still dealing with the aftermath of what happened during this time. The sheer emotional aspects are mind boggling. Even though their time in bondage has ended, it’s not close to being forgotten. You can taste the fear, anger, and disgust that the masses still feel towards the Horde and the people who were created during this time.
I adored both our main protagonists-Mina and Rhys. Both have an emotionally gripping back stories that have shaped who they are now. Mina is a no nonsense Inspector Detective who has to work four times as hard to overcome two huge flaws against her. She is a woman detective and she bears the mark of being a Horde byblow. She is strong and intelligent yet extremely vulnerable when it comes to her family.The first time Rhys sees her, he has to process her. And he goes about it in a way only a ruthless pirate would.
I especially enjoyed Rhys because Ms. Brooks doesn’t make him Mina’s savior. In fact, he is painted in a rather unflattering yet brutally honest light.
He’s not very nice. And she’s not especially beautiful. But as I read and got to know them the thought of them being with anyone else was unacceptable. They completed each other.
Their romance runs parallel to the plot; each story line strong in it’s own telling. I think for me the anguish of what they were really going through didn’t hit me till the almost end. They are both very good at playing their cards close to their hearts.
The secondary characters all stand on their own and blend well into the story. Strong, quick witted and courageous-these characters have all suffered from the atrocity’s of the Horde and emerged victorious despite. Scarsdale, Rhys’s right hand man, had me laughing with his fear of flying and cheering his often astute advice to Rhys. Yasmeen, whom we saw in There Be Monsters Here, is just as caustic in this story. A female pirate; she is fearless. Somewhat compassionate, for the right price, she features heavily in the plot and adds a touch of mystery as to who and what she is. Newberry, Mina’s partner and bodyguard, is quiet and rather unassuming in this story. But it’s his unspoken loyalty to Mina that helps you understand exactly what she goes through everyday.
You know Mandi, I can’t think of anything or anyone in this book I didn’t love.
Mandi: I agree, Tori. When I try to think of things I didn’t like or annoyances I really can’t think of any.
This book is not a light read. Meljean Brook makes you work for it. She holds things back at some points, and she doesn’t always lay everything down in front of you. You have to pay attention in this one – and absorb every word. She is tricky and I love it. I’m sure I would discover many things on a reread of this book I missed the first time around. She doesn’t write down to the reader and she keeps you on your toes. There is humor, and romance, and a very eerie tone.
There are close to 500,000 other things that happen in this book that I haven’t even touched on. So going back to my earlier statement – The Iron Duke is amazing and you must read it. The end.
Tori: Yes Mandi-if I touched on everything in this story I loved I would pretty much be retelling it for everyone. Also, your right when saying it is not a light hearted read. You work to find each little tidbit and clue-but the journey is worth it. The over all arc is convoluted and I found myself wanting to read more about the time when the Horde ruled and everything that happened them in great detail. Really, this book could have been 800 pages long and I wouldn’t have had a problem with it. So to quote Mandi, "The Iron Duke is amazing and you must read it. The end." :)
Our Rating: 5/5