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review 2015-11-26 02:36
Steampunkery Awesomeness
The Iron Duke - Meljean Brook

Okay, So I must confess, when I started reading this book, I though I was reading an entirely different novel. I was going through of books that I had saved in a 'to-read' list, which I had sorted about genre. Some how this one made it into my m-m steampunk section.

 

However, after my initial surprise at this not being an m-m romance, but a m-f romance, I very quickly enjoyed myself. The novel is a really high quality book, that I do not regret reading, nor buying. I will definitely be re-reading this in the future.

 

The world-building was amazing. Perfect. A clear, solid picture was painted, details given, and things made sense. I love steampunk, so to read a steampunk novel with good world building always make me smile. 

 

The characters are great. I loved Mina. She is a good, strong female lead, who is not afraid to do what she needs to. She can save herself when she gets into a pinch, but she is also vulnerable, and has very valid fears. She is a well rounded, believable character. 

 

I enjoyed the Iron Duke's character. He is resourceful, and intelligent. I was not overly fond of his (in my opinion) slightly possessive nature. (His constant referral to Mina as 'his' and when he literally calls her his possession), however, this is just something that irritates me personally. 

 

I enjoyed the romance. It developed realistically, at a good pace. No insta-love, only insta-lust, which I don't mind as long as it develops into something deeper. The romance was balanced well with the action and drama of the book. It was not the only focus.

 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to any steampunk fan.

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review 2012-10-25 00:00
The Iron Duke (Iron Seas Series #1) - Meljean Brook Well, this book wasn't what I expected. First, not only does the cover picture have bared chest, it’s bared chest only, with the rest cut out. It would imply it’s not just “punk” that’s “steamy” here. But it wasn't as erotica-heavy as I expected. Anyway, the reason I bought it was that it constantly gets listed as “steampunk”. I wanted to see if it was really “steampunk” or simply romance with a few cogs tossed in.It is steampunk. Steampunk is great. Unfortunately, steampunk is the only good part of this book. Worldbuilding is solid too, but infodumps it is achieved through are clumsy. In this alt-history, Mongol Horde took over Europe via “bugs”, parasites that can be controlled through radio waves. Via them, they can manipulate the hosts’ emotions. But Horde was defeated, British nobility that ran to America returned, there is conflict between those who left and those who stayed. Mainland Europe is mostly overrun by zombies - another consequence of “bugs”. People replace parts of themselves with mechanical devices. I will admit that I might be harsher than usual on this book because of good setting. I felt it could have been better if author wrote an adventure rather than romance. Then again, maybe not. I don’t think the pacing was good. I felt no tension, even though there was a constant chase. In comparison with another book with pursuit I read lately, it was downright boring. Not even “revelations” were particularly shocking. It goes like this: Oh there is this person both duke and his BFF think terrible and have bad personal past with, which must mean they are really terrible because duke and BFF are pirates except not really evil pirates but still, then it turns out that person was blackmailed by this even worse person both duke and his BFF think terrible, rinse and repeat. It wasn’t that bad of a plot - though I think author dropped some hints too early and too obviously. It just didn’t feel riveting, for some reason. I really think it’s the pacing problem.Main characters were bland. Okay, bland-heroine-so-we-can-paste-ourselves-in-her-place is usual. But dammit, she’s a female inspector and leading expert on autopsy in police force, so good she is hired despite bad public image, so irreplaceable she gets picked up from a ball to go to the scene. But somehow, she just doesn’t shine. She says smart things, it’s not just an informed ability, she actually takes part in action, doesn’t need to be saved a lot but...somehow, it fails to leave an impact. Maybe it’s the lack of personality. But love interest is the one who is supposed to draw us in, right? Nope. Out of any male romantic lead I ever ran into, Duke is the one I felt the least interested in. Again, why? He has the standard “possession” issue, but somehow it seems even more unnatural than usual. Other than that...nothing. He is kinda brooding, but not particularly. He is a pirate, but a moral one and almost every person he harmed was at fault somehow. Even their “speshul snowflakeness” can’t make them interesting. Mina is conceived by a Horde member while her mother was not in her sane mind. She suffers prejudice because of this. Still, her family loves her. And conflict feels more like ploy for sympathy than genuine criticism of racism. Rhys’ “bugs” do not work like other people’s. Plus he somehow has iron skeleton. I guess he was some kind of experiment, only it’s never explained.)I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m longing for proper slap-slap-kiss. ‘Proper’ meaning not 'one side giving a token struggle to raise stakes while the other keeps pushing’. Nor ‘they realise they are attracted to each other, but keep bickering because something needs to happen because they are on opposite sides/protecting themselves from emotional pain’. Dear authors, your readers are not idiots. Though I understand why you might think that considering what we let you get away with. If you say it’s “romance”, we’ll know what to expect from the book. If the book is focusing of two characters of compatible sexual orientation and their relationship, we can guess they’ll end up together eventually. No need to drop that anvil within first three chapters.Duke and Inspector have opposing personalities and genuine reasons to dislike each other from the start. Instead, we’re treated to insta-lust love, despite the heroine resembling hero’s former enemies. No, that’s not hero being better than other people. That’s plot contrivance. It would be much more meaningful and it would endear the character much more to us if this book had him learning to overcome prejudice instead of trying to force “sexual healing” on her. Stakes could have been raised through them learning to appreciate each other instead through yet another abuse of sexual abuse. For both of them, at that. Except that he kind of fixed himself, and it’s conveniently mentioned only so they would have something in common. And then there comes the real problem of this book.I’ve seen romanticised/sexualised dubcon. I’ve seen romanticised/sexualised noncon. But this is the first time I saw noncon masquerading as dubcon, actually getting judged and then swept under the rug. Somehow, it’s worse than [b:A Hunger Like No Other|14384|A Hunger Like No Other (Immortals After Dark, #2)|Kresley Cole|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1357616154s/14384.jpg|16422]. And it happens at least twice - though there are more forcible episodes in-between. First time is excused through alcohol. Second is...not excusable by anything. No, lack of outright refusal is not consent.WARNING: TRIGGER, NSFW(Bolded for emphasis by me)”He slammed the door behind them, pushed Mina up against it. Holding her wrists over her head with one hand, he found and tossed her weapons. His fingers ripped at the buttons to her trousers.“Rhys-”“Tell me no, Mina.”She should. She couldn’t. Heart pounding, she said “Let my hands go.”“No.” His denial was hoarse. “I can’t let any of you go. Not now that I’ve seen you. Not now that I live again.”He shoved trousers and pants to her knees, until they were stopped by the tops of of her boots. His hand worked at the front of his breeches. He rose up, pushing her thighs as wide as her trousers allowed, and Mina cried out as he was suddenly inside her, filling her. Deeper, lifting her against the door, driving his thick length home. He levered his torso back. Pinned against the door by his cock, held motionless by his hand circling her wrists, Mina called his name on a ragged breath. Relentless, he unbuckled her jacked, ripped aside her shirt, unfastened her armor.”Now, I actually have shameful level of tolerance for dubcon. But the execution and imagery here are going way beyond my comfort zone. It isn’t even clear if she is enjoying it or not. On one hand, that would make it realistic, on the other, I think we’re supposed to take it as good and sexy.The fact that he is one of few men able to afford publicly associating with her, to say nothing of actually wanting her, makes the consent angle here even more skewed. Now add that he won’t take “no” for an answer and is capable of ruining both her and her family. Side characters, on the other hand, are good. So, in short: Steampunk good. World okay. Plot could be better. MCs bland, side characters okay. “Romance”...makes [b:Fifty Shades of Grey|10818853|Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1)|E.L. James|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1372516342s/10818853.jpg|15732562] look good.I heard this series gets better later on...maybe I'll look into it when I have time.My edition also included a short story “Mina Wentworth and the Invisible City.” Which sounds more awesome than it actually is. ”Invisible city” simply means people ignore things happening around them, thinking only of their own comfort. That’s all. Basically, it’s ten months after, there is another case, heavy infodump for people who haven’t read [b:The Iron Duke|7864587|The Iron Duke (Iron Seas, #1)|Meljean Brook|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1348569561s/7864587.jpg|11022865]. Mystery felt a bit better done, though. Maybe because there was no need to stretch it to the novel-length. Three stars.
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review 2012-10-13 00:00
The Iron Duke (Iron Seas Series #1)
The Iron Duke (Iron Seas Series #1) - The Iron Duke seriously surprised me with it's awesomeness. I have never read a steampunk book before and I didn't think my squirrel like attention span could handle me imagining that kind of world, but of course I was wrong. The entire book from start to finish was amazing. It starts with our lovely and completely kick ass heroine Mina and a dead body. Next enters our deviously delicious Iron Duke, aka Rhys. I'm not a fan of bullies or egotistical men so as soon as Rhys opened his mouth I wanted to punch him in the face but he grew on me. Mina has the same mindset as I do and I loved that she was such a strong and level minded woman. She never dodged the hard stuff and she was always ready to get her hands dirty in the name of justice, and while I'm not willing to put my hand in a dead mans mouth, I admired that about her. Then you bring in her love and devotion for her family and I nearly bubbled over with a insta-love girl crush. She crossed perilous seas, went further away from home than she ever thought she could, faced zombies, mercenaries, and mean drunks and she still held her head up and fought for the truth. I could seriously go on an on about how in love I am with Mina and how I stayed up for 24 hours just to finish this book in one sitting, but I don't want to seem crazy so I will move on. Rhys ticked me off from the beginning. He was arrogant, cocky, egotistical, and a bit of a bully. He was also protective, brave, and dedicated. I seriously spent the first 150 pages trying to decide if I wanted to jump his bones or hit him with a crowbar. It didn't take long for me to see that jumping his bones would be the best and most fulfilling option of the two. It took some time but he eventually learned what it was like to have an equal outside of a pirate ship, and Mina was that equal. It took him a while to see things the way she did but once he did he did a complete about face and did everything he could to protect her, love her, comfort her, and in his words "shag" her. I'm pretty sure I loved Rhys almost as much as I loved Mina. It took a while for me to love him but I love that his and Mina's relationship built up and wasn't some run of the mill insta-love story.Scarsdale and Yasmeen gave the book a level of humor that was perfect. It wasn't forced, or overdone, or random. I didn't think much humor could be found in a world where nano-robots once controlled your every emotion and life, where zombies roamed the majority of the world, or where revolutions and pirates were a normal everyday occurrence. But some how Scarsdale and Yasmeen laughed their way into my heart right along with Rhys and Mina (too mushy?). I'm a tad heartbroken and fan girl excited about the second book. On the one hand it won't focus on Rhys and Mina, who I have come to love way more that is acceptable, but on the other hand I get to go on a whole new adventure with Yasmeen. Ugh these damn love hate moments! Regardless I will read the next book and any after that because I can't see Brook destroying this story line.
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review 2012-10-12 00:00
The Iron Duke (Iron Seas Series #1)
The Iron Duke (Iron Seas Series #1) - My Rating: 4.0 Me and steampunk don't mix. I don't like it and it sure doesn't like me. I've never, ever, finished a single steampunk book without skimming it. When I heard of The Iron Duke through one of my friends, and that it was steampunk novel, my first thought was oh no, should I even bother to try it? To my surprise, I really enjoyed The Iron Duke, all the steampunk aspects of it, and its brilliant fantasy world. I loved all the characters in The Iron Duke. Mina was strong, smart, and knows exactly what she wants. There's no possible way you won't like her. I understood her fear, her horror, and her insecurities relating with the Horde and her conflicting feelings for Rhys. At first, I thought Rhys was going to be one of those dictator kind of characters, the ones who takes anything they like by brutal force and won't care about crushing the people who stood in their way (because the summary hints of that), but no, he is different. He's a captain who truly cares about his people and is willing to give up a lot for them. The only thing I don't approve of is his view on needs and possessions. Hopefully that will change, now that he has Mina by his side. The world-building in The Iron Duke was fascinating. Everything was explained - who the bounders and buggers are, why the buggers fear the Horde, what nanoagents do, and even why the zombies exist (believe me, most of the zombie books I've read so far didn't bother explaining that one). And the thing is, all the explanations fit neatly into the storyline. Unlike other books I've read, The Iron Duke gives little glimpses into the world of the Horde when appropriate, not long detailed paragraphs full of information. I've never read a book that went into such detail about their world without boring me to death. I can easily say that Meljean Brook knows how to write and engage the reader. Many people who've read The Iron Duke say that romance plays a huge part in the book, but I don't agree. In my opinion, romance is just in half of the book, not the main focus. Despite that, the romantic scenes were nicely executed, a lot better than most of the historical romances I've read. I will definitely be reading Heart of Steel, the next book in the Iron Seas series. I heard it's Yasmeen's story. I want to learn more about her and her past. How did she become the Yasmeen here today that's insecure and doesn't trust anyone? ohdamnbooks: the iron duke
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review 2012-05-16 00:00
The Iron Duke (Iron Seas Series #1)
The Iron Duke (Iron Seas Series #1) - Fantastic story...loved the steampunk/nanobot bits, the description of society, etc. It took me a while to realize the ethnicity (generally speaking) of the Horde, etc. Can't wait for the next one!
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