• The Iron Duke

  • By: Meljean Brook
  • Narrated by: Faye Adele
  • Length: 13 hrs and 24 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (444 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

First in an all-new series where seductive danger and steampunk adventure abound in the gritty world of the Iron Seas.

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.

©2010 Meljean Brook (P)2011 Penguin

What listeners say about The Iron Duke

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great for Some but Not for Everyone

This is a complicated review to write as many aspects of the book are terrific, but one major issue detracts from the overall book. Thus, my review will be based on who this book is for, and who should stay away.

Who this book is for: If you're a fan of historical romance with some drama and action, this is a good book for you. Fans of the Steampunk genre won't be disappointed either as the creativity and detail of this made-up world are fantastic. The backstories supplement nicely for the major characters, and minor characters reinforce both the story and protagonists while adding a little more intrigue. The story and most plot devices weave together well, and it is unlikely you'll be bored or incurious. If I were to rate on these factors, I would do the following: Story: 5 stars; Creativity: 5 stars; Characters: 4 stars; Writing: 4 stars. Also, I have no complaints of the narrator, who did a fine job with the book and characters, and I give her 4 stars.

Who should stay away: It's not an uncommon trope of the romance genre to have aggressive, domineering male protagonists; and this book is no different. This is likely a way to exploit common fantasies of a confident, dominant alpha-male, and many times, this works. This is also exactly where this book gets complicated because it is my guess that the author intended to utilize this characterization of the male protagonist rather than try and pass off sexual assault as romance. I don't at all recommend this book for people or survivors of sexual assault who are easily triggered by or strongly opposed to anything associated with this topic. At the very least, this book will grate on your nerves, and, at most, well, it could cause some strong undesirable reactions. There is nothing wrong with wanting nothing to do with this subject, and I suggest these types of people go find something less controversial for their audiobook needs.

Somewhat spoilery stuff about a rapey scene in this book: The male lead, Rhys, boldly pursues the female lead, Mina, immediately after their initial encounter, and she does not reciprocate or encourage his behavior. It's not like most male leads ask their female counterparts for their permission to woo or even kiss them in romance novels, but this isn't exactly that. The book seemed to go out of its way to show that, at least initially, it was all about Rhys asserting himself for his own needs without much regard to Mina's. At a later point in the book, Rhys aggressively comes on to Mina and engages in a nonconsensual sexual act. Mina repeatedly says, "no" and "please," and she even yanks out Rhys's hair in protest. It is not until the encounter ends that Rhys realizes he utterly completely misread the situation, "no" didn't mean "yes," and Mina's protestations weren't encouragement. It is only then that it registers that he has just attacked Mina, very similarly to how the Horde used people, and Rhys feels remorse. Despite Rhys realizing his mistake and feeling repentant, this does not change what the situation was for Mina, which was undoubtedly assault. This situation caused me to rate the Audible Overall ranking lower because there isn't much enjoyment to be had from this scene, which deserves a -5.

15 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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First steampunk book for me

This is the first steampunk book I've listened to. I like this one so much that I'm going to listen to others by this author. The story is well paced, and the characters are anything but predictable. The narrator is excellent. She is so good that sometimes I felt like I was watching a movie - she really makes the story come alive. Now onto the next one!

10 people found this helpful

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Amazing detail and story!

I was very impressed with this story! I was a little hesitant to get it but am very glad I did. This story had everything, action, science fiction, history, and romance. The author was able to make the details believable and I loved to imagine the world she created. Definitely worth the credit!

7 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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a fascinating and dangerous world

I really enjoy the world that Brook sensei built. The characters of this book live in a fascinating and dangerous world. I mean there are nano bugs, zombies, air ships, lord and ladies, king, pirates and balls! What is NOT to like.

I also loved Mina, the tortured but strong and stubborn heroine. If I am not mistaken, she has Asian blood and thus ostracized by society. Heroine with Asian blood in that period is rare and I liked that. Rhys is also a memorable character but I was sort of put off by his serious lack of social understanding. From his past I can understand the reason why, but for a smart character I thought he had a real blind spot. My favorite character of all is the always drunk Scarsedale! He was a wonderful addition as well as members of the police, Yasmeen and Mina's wonderful family. The story itself revolving around the murder and mystery and eventually the conspiracy was also great.

Only complaint I have is that for me there were a bit too much sex scene with TMI. I admit they were hot and steamy but not for reading(listening) on the train... LOL

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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STEAMPUNK Fans will not be disappointed!

I have been waiting for this book to come out as an audio production for a while now. I had read 3 or 4 different raving reviews, from various book review sites I follow.
The reviews were right, I really enjoyed this book. I liked the characters, and the author did a wonderful job making the world they live in seem real.

The narrator was perfect for this book, and I was pleased to see that she is narrating the next book in this series also.

FYI: There are some pretty steamy love scenes, I found that they were well placed in the storyline, but I would not recommend to younger readers.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great Book, And a Gem of the Genre

I loved listening to this book. I love the narration, as it seemed to be effortlessly read with attention paid to all the correct accents, easily identifiable voice details, as well as excellent attention to the diction and speaking styles of each different character. The author and narrator were certainly at the top of their game for this one. If all steam punk was this well written and read, I could become a devoted fan of the genre.

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Good Reader, Terrible Story

Would you try another book from Meljean Brook and/or Faye Adele?

I would try another book read by Faye Adele, but I didnt like the story so I probably will not read anything else y Meljean Brooks.

What do you think your next listen will be?

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

What does Faye Adele bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I really enjoyed her character portrayals and voice inflection. I wouldnt have gotten that from just reading the book.

What character would you cut from The Iron Duke?

The Iron Duke.

Any additional comments?

I'm not sure why rapey men are so appealing, but I found the Iron Duke disgusting.

2 people found this helpful

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More porn than steam-punk

What disappointed you about The Iron Duke?

WTF?! I am no prude by any means, let me start there. The framework of the story was excellent. HOWEVER, the book reads like a series of porn episodes...I mean hard-core porn. It starts out as a woman who is forced upon by a 'hero'...the woman is raped, plain and simple. The story goes on making this into making this victim fall in love with her rapist. The author should be ashamed, and the female narrator should have stopped when she realized what was going on and quit the gig.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Faye Adele?

ABSOLUTELY NOT.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The narrator was OK. The story's framework had great potential, but the author ruined it by turning into something that should be in Penthouse.

Any additional comments?

XXX WARNING...no exaggeration. You had better not have this book playing in the presence of any children or older people with any degree of morality.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great Adventure!

After reading the short story of “Here there be Monsters”, which is a prequel to this book, I was ready to consume all the steam punk that has been written in this series. I had never read steam punk before and didn’t have a clue what it means. So after looking it up it means in short using sci-fi technology, history, fantasy and combining them in a story. The story is a little confusing the first hour, but it prevailed and made a wonderfully fun adventure.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Grimdark steampunk espionage regency

Great big-picture concept with some clumsy execution and rather a lot of plots to follow. The story takes place in an alternate Victorian London newly freed from two hundred years of Horde subjugation that included a plague of nanobots which created crazed zombies out of people, caused bug-fever and death, or permitted controlling people to make them Frenzy. This is steampunk with dirigibles, Krakens (robotic octopuses), and mechanic enhanced people. It’s also a mystery thriller combined with romance between Inspector Mina and a duke (and former pirate captain) Rhys, who join forces to investigate a murder, search for a hijacked ship, and track down a dangerous weapon. And further, it’s a story full of prejudice and abuse, where people do all sorts of awful things to each other based on their appearance, gender, or simple vulnerability.

On the plus side, the world this author creates is unique and fascinating. I loved the concept of a post-nano-bug-apocalypse in regency London. It had the feel of Reign on Fire, but with bug-created zombies instead of dragons. I liked that there were strong women, including Mina, her mother, and Yasmeen (my favorite cutthroat captain who stars in book 2). And I like that the regency romance was edgier than the usual Julia Quinn-type fare (not that I don’t enjoy her books now and again, but I think broodier romance works with steampunk, and especially this kind of steampunk).

On the downside, there’s a frustrating imbalance of detail. Throughout the story we get a lot of detail about both MC’s tortured pasts while at the same time the Horde is described in only the broadest brushstrokes. Are the Horde human or beasts? How come we never meet a single one? What makes half Horde people easy to spot? I think maybe the Horde is like the Mongols and Ghengis Khan... which is why Mina’s black hair marks her... but I could be completely wrong because there’s so little detail. Downsides also include past sexu@l abuse of women and children, prejudice and vitriol (albeit mostly against Horde half-breeds), torture and PTSD. With all that dark, I feel like there needed to be more humor or livelier dialogue. Then there’s the awkward romance, which is mostly him being arrogant and controlling for half the book, until they are both drunk and he forces her to accept or@l (ch10), at which point they embark on several explicit scenes oddly lacking in chemistry (ch12, 13, 14, and 18). I’m not sure if it was the writing or the narrator than made the nooky very meh for me; I didn’t find the narrator’s male voices very sexy at all. Finally, the bad guys are largely one-note and absent until the scenes where they are revealed, captured and dealt with, making them not very interesting.

On the whole, especially getting this on sale, this was a solid enough book that I will listen again sometime. I liked book 2 even more as it has more fun, action and adventure as Tomb Raider goes zombie steampunk. Book 3 abandons all the characters of books 1&2 and is an on-the-run mystery adventure as an inexperienced pair seeks Amazons in Iceland- it’s a bit more sweet than I like and dwells too much on the prejudices against mechanically enhanced people and LGBTQ relationships, but still a unique and entertaining story. The prequel Here There Be Monsters is most like book 2 with a swashbuckling steampunk romance that benefits from the novella, get-right-to-the-fun-parts, length.

If you’d prefer paranormal steampunk romance that’s lighter and cleaner, consider Soulless by Carriger, beginning a jaunty series that includes werewolves and vampires.

If you liked the grimdark, insectoid adventure more than the steampunk or romance, consider the trilogy beginning with A Crown for Cold Silver.

If you want to go even more Sleepy Hollow, gothic steampunk mystery horror, and can handle a MM romance, try Magpie Lord. It’s darker, edgier, and bdsm-ier (is that a thing?)

1 person found this helpful

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  • AJD
  • 02-17-20

Brilliant story; narrator just decent

This is one of my favourite novels by the queen of stream punk. The narrator is good but gets a bit shouty when reading the high emotion / high adventure parts. Overall a good listen and I’ll get the next one with this narrator.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-09-22

Fun adventure, cute love story

Yay finally some good steampunk and good romance! Really enjoyed this, lots of fun!

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