Our book of the night is The Iron Duke, by Meljean Brook.
Here’s the blurb:
After the Iron Duke freed England from Horde control, he instantly became a national hero. Now Rhys Trahaearn has built a merchant empire on the power — and fear — of his name. And when a dead body is dropped from an airship onto his doorstep, bringing Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth into his dangerous world, he intends to make her his next possession.
Mina can’t afford his interest, however. Horde blood runs through her veins, and despite the nanotech enhancing her body, she barely scratches out a living in London society. Becoming Rhys’s lover would destroy both her career and her family, yet the investigation prevents her from avoiding him…and the Iron Duke’s ruthless pursuit makes him difficult to resist.
But when Mina uncovers the victim’s identity, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens the lives of everyone in England. To save them, Mina and Rhys must race across zombie-infested wastelands and treacherous oceans — and Mina discovers the danger is not only to her countrymen as she finds herself tempted to give up everything to the Iron Duke.
This book has a little bit of everything, set in a steampunk (ish?) world. It has everything from nano technology to airships to zombies to adventurers to kraken and giant sharks to men with iron bones. The way these zombies are created is fascinating, and I actually would have enjoyed having more of them. In fact, I would have enjoyed more of the creatures–such as the kraken and the giant sharks–in general.
That being said, I found this world ultimately fascinating. Previously, I’d always thought of steampunk as more Jules Verne than Michael Crichton, but this book was an interesting mix. The nanotechnology, as well as some of the other technological advances (that I won’t name for fear of spoiling the fun), are impossible even today. I must admit, I didn’t know what to make of it at first. But the setting–a gritty, dirty London; a zombie-infested Europe; and seas riddled with both kraken and pirates–was perfect and dark, and set the tone for an incredible adventure.
As for the hero and the heroine, I found them to be real people with real flaws, despite their… differences. I enjoyed Mina and Rhys (but I do have a thing for Welshies. Can’t help it). I admit to having a thing for pirates–and Rhys, despite his title, is one–so maybe that’s why I liked him so much, even though he’s a bit harsh. If the term “alpha male” ever described anyone, it would describe The Iron Duke. And Mina isn’t a wilting flower, either. She’s tough as nails.
That’s why he likes her so much.
I really enjoyed this book. For fans of the steampunk genre, this one is for you. And even if you’re not a fan, give it a shot. It’s worth it.