Hi everyone! This is Julia of The Broke and the Bookish, formerly blogging on my own at The Competitive Bibliomaniac.
I read mostly historical romance, but can often be found reviewing paranormal romance, young adult books (mostly distopian/fantasy), fantasy/sci-fi, classics, and the occasional non-fiction book about languages.
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Background: I've been hearing rumblings about The Iron Duke around the internet for quite a while, especially when talking about steampunk books. I don't know what put me off reading it. Maybe there were a bit of mixed messages, but for whatever reason I didn't read it. I ended up reading it now because I randomly picked it up at one of Border's going out of business sales because I vaguely remembered good things. Well now I have an opinion. And overall that one is good.
I don't even know how to start explaining the story. There is just so much intricacy built in with the way Brook constructed the book. The world-building was excellent. It really felt like the past mixed in with the alternate reality future. At first I was a little put off and confused by the terminology but she doesn't deluge you with facts and slowly awakens your knowledge of the world she has created. I was soon up on the lingo and the world.
The basic plot is there an inspector, Mina, who get's called out on a case at the Iron Duke's house. He is sort of a celebrity in London due to him freeing them from their former occupiers, the Horde. As the investigation grows into something bigger than either thought, they are pushed together more often than not and drawn to each other.
I don't want to give too much away, but this story is WAY more than just a who done it. It turns into some crazy shiz. And yes, that is the technical term.
The plot was not too hard to follow, but some scenes I thought were a bit rushed or non-existent. Like one in particular time, she built us up for a sea battle and we saw very little of it. Boo. The ending was okay I guess. I can't put my finger on why it felt off for me (and I mean like the VERY ending).
This was by far my favorite part of this book. The leads were wicked dimensional. The secondaries were as well and I really hope to see more of them again with their own book.
Mina, the inspector, has some interesting issues to deal with and I thought they were handled well. I didn't think they were too glossed over and instead took a bit to be worked out. Rhys, the Duke, could be a hit or miss for people. Early on he seems like the biggest alphole to ever walk the pages of my brain, but slowly you see him grow and change. His growth and change however does not make him lose his alpha characteristics. That's why he could be hit or miss. Within the context of this book and because of this character growth, he was a hit for me. Well, I warmed up to him.
It's gotta be mentioned. Scarsdale made me laugh out loud at least once every time he was on the page. Between him and Lady Corsair they were probably the most well rounded secondary characters I have seen in a romance novel for a while.
This is a paranormal romance novel and thus there are a number of romantic-centric scenes. But I hesitate to say that is how I would define it. It is very much a well done interweaving of romance and paranormal. It's easy to get lost in either side.
There are some difficult romantic elements in this book dealing with the way sexuality was expressed during the Horde rule. They are not comfortable scenes. Were they necessary in the context of the book? I think so. I really do. It made the world more real to me.
Also, the sexy times are frequent, hot and like I mentioned sometimes tied to some heavy emotional moments that could be triggers for some of us, so if you are not into that, this may not be for you.
Overall I enjoyed it but my biggest qualm lay here. Some of the scenes, especially ones with lots of action seemed unbelievably confusing to me. I literally read a page 3 times very slowly to try and get what just happened and I still had trouble. The times I had to do this were not overwhelmingly high, but enough to bother me.
What did bother me though is there are two admirals each with a B name and one is a good guy and one is a not-so good guy (?) and I still get them confused. We didn't see them enough for me to remember the name and who was which. I wish that one of the other letters of the alphabet were used so I wasn't like "Wait, isn't he dead?"
Overall, I sure as hell enjoyed it enough to survive this hectic work week with only on average 5 hrs of sleep. That may even be a max of five hours each night. All because I wanted to go back into this world and be with these people. I am really excited to continue this series.
Originally posted on GR in June 2012