My rating: 4 of 5 stars
For being a book whose cover features a shirtless guy wearing a shiny leather jacket and showing off his washboard abs, The Iron Duke was quite good! It skews more towards romance than the previous steampunk books I’ve read this month, but it also doesn’t shirk its responsibilities in the world-building department.
The world in The Iron Duke is based on a post-Industrial Revolution England, where some controlling entity, only referred to as The Horde injected the people of England with a nano virus some two hundred years ago. The nano virus lets the Horde control the people’s emotions, dictating when they’re passive, and when they go into a frenzy of emotion (perfect for when it’s mating time.) Through some chain of events, the Horde is overthrown, the infected people, called buggers regain control of their lives back, and the book picks up from there.
More specifically, the book revolves around Mina, a police inspector in England who barely gets any respect just because she was the unfortunate product of a Horde raping her mother. She gets spit on and threatened daily because of her mix-raced features and has to work extra hard to prove that she’s just as good as everyone else. She meets Rhys, the Iron Duke, they go on air ship adventures, they shag, they fall in love, etc. etc.
Yes, the book was formulaic to the paranormal romance genre even though there wasn’t exactly anything paranormal going on. I guess there were zombies. Do zombies count? Even though the plot wasn’t ground-breaking, the book was a joy to read and pages sped by quickly.
The Iron Duke has steampunk, romance, air pirating, evil secret cults, roguish men, strong women, and a pretty darn good world built around it. It’s no wonder I liked it. The second book will be on my radar when it gets released.
I also have to give props to the author for at least trying to promote birth control during sex, unlike some other books where characters seem to go at it with no reproductive consequences.
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