Performancing Metrics

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Audiobook Review: The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook (The Iron Seas #1)

Book cover of The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook (steampunk romance audiobook The Iron Seas #1)
I’ve been wary of steampunk as a genre, so I was doubly concerned about jumping into audio steampunk.  After listening to Faye Adele reading Meljean Brook’s The Iron Duke, though, I am now a total fangirl, and my new mission is to convert everyone I meet to audio steampunk.  Oh blue heavens (as Brook's heroines say), this listening experience was amazing.  Everything about it was wonderful, and I found myself forgoing print books this week so I could get as much of The Iron Duke as possible.

Audible summary: 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.

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.

My thoughts: From the minute the audiobook opened with dark, imperial music, I was hooked.  Meljean Brook’s worldbuilding is incredible, and I was enthralled by her vivid descriptions of a London still recovering from 200 years of Horde control.  She never misses a detail, and every strange character and piece of machinery is portrayed brilliantly.  Brook even tackles large issues like racism, marriage and gender equality, and seamlessly includes them into the novel's plot.  As for action, The Iron Duke has it in spades.  From krakens to zombies to prison escapes, this is one serious heart-pounding adventure.

Brook's characters are as fully depicted as her world.  Mina is one of the best heroines I've encountered in a while.  She's canny and tough, and she's driven by her fierce sense of justice.  Though she's often a victim of violent prejudice (the story of her birth is heart-wrenching), she doesn't allow herself to become a victim.  Above all, Mina loves her family and will sacrifice anything - including her own happiness - to keep them safe.  When she encounters Rhys, the ultimate alpha male, she gives into her attraction, but she doesn't let him control her.

And as for the Iron Duke himself...*le sigh.*  I'd happily risk a zombie bite for a few minutes of alone time with him.  Rhys is used to getting what he wants, and he wants Mina.  Initially, his attraction is purely physical and he's arrogant in his assumption that she'll happily jump into his bed - he makes repeated references to his plans to "shag her blind."  Over the course of the novel, though, he falls madly in love with everything about Mina but he has no idea how to make their relationship work.  He's almost boyishly cute in his frustrated attempts to make Mina stay with him (and he'd throw anyone who described him thus right into a megalodon's jaw without blinking an eye).

Adele’s performance is lovely, and her vocal timbre is perfectly suited to Brook’s story and tone.  She voices Mina particularly well, capturing her aristocratic drawl and authority perfectly.  If her voice gets a touch strident on a few characters, or if Lady Corsair’s accent seems inconsistent, it wasn’t enough to bother me.

Meljean Brook has fully converted me into a steampunk believer, and she inspired me to download two anthologies that contain her steampunk short stories (Burning Up and Wild & Steamy) and a few other steampunk romances as well.  I was thrilled also to learn that in January, Berkley will be releasing a new mass market paperback of The Iron Duke that contains a new Mina-Rhys novella.  Sounds like the perfect way to start off 2012!  

Rating: A+
Publisher (audio): Penguin Audio
Length: 13 hours, 23 minutes
Release date: November 1, 2011
Sensuality: Very hot
Other Books in This Series: Heart of Steel

Romance Novel Book Reviews by Sarah The Brazen Bookworm (Meljean Brook audiobook Iron Seas steampunk romance)

I received this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.


  1. I haven't read any steampunk yet, but I do have some books on my radar, and this one definitely goes to my to-read list. Your enthusiastic review makes me wish I could start it now!

  2. Pepca ~ It's definitely a great way to start out the genre. I absolutely loved it. :)

  3. Oh wow! I've never read a steampunk book. I think I would prefer to read this one than listen. I just can't focus as well when I'm listening.

    1. Go for the print version, then ~ it's totally worthwhile either way!


Thank you for your comments!

Romance novel book review