That moment when you fangirl so hard, a little bit of pee comes out…
How To Make Tasty Book-Crack In One Easy-to-Follow Recipe:
Step 1: Gather all of the following ingredients.
1 cup of All The Genres
1/2 cup of Bad-Ass Heroine,
1/4th cup of Fun Hero
Equal parts internal and external conflict, a sprinkling of Kraken, a smidgen of Minority Representation, a teaspoon of Cool Universe.
Step 2: Be Meljean Brook...
I shit you not, fellow fangirls; I don’t give a toot WHAT kind of stories are your jelly jam, The Iron Duke is the end-all-be-all tastiness in your library sandwich. When I say it’s got everything, I mean this little doo-dad has ALL of things! History, horror, romance, action, drama, suspense, mystery, alternate history, tragedy, Erotica, adventure…
We got smexy times, airships, zombies, krakens, Spider rickshaws, mechanically augmented humans, seafaring shenanigans, the saving of England from the bad guys! The list is endless.
Real talk, if you aren’t hooked yet, then your hooker is broken.
If you’re still a no-go, then let’s try on the fact that Mina Wentworth is gonna make you go happy in your heart-place! Our girl is an inspector detective that society shits all over on a perpetual basis because she’s England’s enemy’s rape-baby.
Mina ain’t got no time to fret over her ostracized status, ‘cause she’s too busy kicking ass and taking down the bad guy’s names for some jail time.
But then lo and behold one day the bad-guys dump a dead body on Rhys Trahaern’s doorstep...Rhys; the dude who singlehandedly saved ye ole England and is big-time national hero.
The Iron Duke is just a simple little dead-body-figure-it-out murder mystery...except for the fact that said dead body sends our OTP on a big grand adventure trying to stop a weapon of mass-ouch from offing all the English citizens that have nanoagent bugs in their bodies.
Oh yeah, sorry, did I mention that this alternate history novel is steampunk AF?
Years ago, poor England got taken over by a group of invaders called The Hoard. Our bad guys roofied England’s imported traded sugar and teas, spiking everyone with nanoagents that controlled the F out of everybody through a radio frequency.
Alas, the book's plot has our Big Baddie trying to murder all the “bugged” citizens, and if you consider that spoiler-talk then I’m sorry.
What’s NOT spoiler-talk is the awesome, cool, bad-guys-on-the-run adventure story that was full of monster fights, assassinations, exploding fortresses and firebombed ships. Not only did we get that balls-to-the-wall external fun, but we also get some serious d’awww-worthy internal OTP conflict.
Rhys is Mr. Hero-In-Pursuit-Horny-Pants while Mina is this big emotionally damaged but physically, morally, and intellectually tough chick!
Our heroine is the result of a Hoard rape, so she’s unjustly hated by society whereas Rhys, the nation’s hero, is celebrated by said society, and BAM.
That's your romantic conflict.
Our two leads ROCK with their awesome strong ass-kickery, but The Iron Duke also rocks because OH MY GOD DAT REPRESENTATION THO!
Not only is Mina technically a POC character because of her Asian ethnicity, but Yasmeen, another cool character chick, isn't Whitey Miss Whiteness! Also spoiler warning; I really, REALLY like Yasmeen.
Like, a LOT!
She’s this swashbuckling airship captain who I kinda picture a lot like Isabella from Dragon age II. She’s cool and funny as all hell and I wanna take her out for a hamburger.
Aghast, Yasmeen gaped at her before looking to the duke. "It's worse than I thought. Not just the Horde, not just the police- you're keeping company with someone who has principles.”
SO MUCH LOVE!
Then there’s Scarsdale, a comedic softhearted puppy who is precisely how you give representation to the LGBT community; you write characters who happen to be gay, you don't just write gay characters.
Scarsdale, Yasmeen, Mina, and Rhys; the book's mostly those four badasses running amok being amazing and doing plot stuff. The writing fun and rich and nuanced and hot and heart-pounding and SO damn interesting.
Now go away and read it, dammit, ‘cause I got shiznit I gotta spoil.
Wait. I already did, what with that whole central conflict reveal. But you know what?
I REGRET NOTHING.
Because even knowing about that big brouhaha, there’s still so much more to this universe! I mean, there’s the awesome characters, what with Mina being my hardcore girl-crush…
“Dead people of all sorts are more tolerable than most of those living.”
God I adore her, because SHE IS SO COOL HAVE I MENTIONED HOW COOL SHE IS BECAUSE SHE IS COOL! Girl is legit badass. She investigates murders, dissects dead bodies, shoots zombies, fights genetically mutated cat monsters, and even rescues the hero in distress aboard his USS Ship Is In Peril!
Mina jumps from an airship to hang suspended midair over an ocean filled with water she totes doesn't know how to swim in to shoot a harpoon into the eye of a kraken that's got its tentacles wrapped around her boyfriend’s big boat.
Girl is a mother flipping BAMF! She’s sassy and witty, and she makes the perfect Part 1 of this OTP.
The plotting of The Iron Duke is rock solid, the pacing is magic, and the characters are PERFE---okay, I’ll slow my roll.
The truth is, this book has just one itty-bity-titty flaw, and that’s Rhys.
Stow the plague infested tomatoes and put the hate on ice, cause I do love my alpha-hero crammed into a beta personality. I mean, our pirate dude is legit hilarious…
Mina: And you’ve just come from Parliament? How are you finding that? Rhys: It’s much like piracy. You tell your enemies that if they don't fall in line, you'll leave them to die.
See? Funny! He’s also legit legit!
He never manipulates Mina, despite the MANY opportunities he has to do so. Even when she does shit that makes Rhys side-eye her, he keeps his respect goggles on fleek. Buuuuuut truth to tell, Rhys’ backstory isn’t fleshed out very much, ‘cause we’re only given peaks and winks into his past.
Mina’s story is given more attention, and I AM totally okay with that, but it would’ve been nice if we got more of a dynamic look into what makes our boy tic.
“I'll kiss you until we can't breathe. I'll strip you naked and taste every inch of you. Then I'll shag you until neither of us can see straight.”
Then again, with dialogue like that coming from the man’s face hole, my thirsty ass is obligated to give him a pass.
And my panties.
This book is literally everything. I’m word vomiting all about the characters and internal conflicts and emotional plot, because those are the things that stick with me the most, BUT! The novel spends just as much effort on crafting a smart action adventure that takes us to some really neat settings with monsters and battles and heart pumping fun times!
Throw in some smoking hot bow-chicka-bow-wow boinking time, some dramatic character growth for both our leads, AND a climax that wraps up both the internal and external conflicts simultaneously and yep.
Fangirling. ALL OF THE FANGIRLING!
Whoops I’m pretty sure I just peed myself again.
(If you like my writing voice or you think I’m funny...[or you just really wanna laugh at a fangirl for fangirling]...then SHAMELESS YOUTUBE CHANNEL PLUG IS SHAMELESS! I review romance novels and Asian dramas, so that is a thing and now you know.)