The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook is one of the best steampunk fantasy novels I’ve read to date. While some of the characters took awhile to grow on me (and they all eventually did), the plot was very original and captivated me from the beginning.
Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth hears that a body has been discovered on The Iron Duke’s property. Rhys, the duke, is credited with ending the dictatorial Horde’s control over England. Mina knows dealing with a crime involving the national hero could get complicated. Considering that as soon as they meet, he becomes obsessed with possessing her – complicated is pretty good word for it. Mina’s birth was a result of a Horde raping of her mother – so her existence is taboo and dangerous enough without adding a newsworthy romance into the mix. She tries to avoid attracting Rhys further – but what is she supposed to do if she finds herself attracted right back? As they both become further involved with the mystery that started with the dead body, they also become increasingly involved with each other.
Let me tell y’all, this plot is pretty much go-go-go. Non-stop action and suspense surrounded by a cast of incredibly varied and original characters equals one heck of a great book. I couldn’t get enough of any of it! From the very beginning I loved Mina – she was a little prickly, but she had very good reason to be. I really enjoyed the way she interacted with the people around her. She was also really daring – she pulls off some pretty incredible stunts that had me holding my breath.
As for Rhys: he originally grated on my nerves. I didn’t like the way he initially viewed Mina as something to possess, or his sky-high sense of entitlement. However, he is one of the characters you just have to be patient with…once Meljean Brook lets us get to know him a little better he quickly got into my good graces.
This book really does have a little bit of everything and I enjoyed all of it – from the mystery to the steampunk to the romance. I will definitely be following this series, this isn’t a world you’ll want to leave behind!