Beautiful, intricate world-building and refreshingly honest characters, - I loved Heart of Steal, peeps!
The world of Iron Seas is absolutely stunning, and in book #2 we are finally starting to see how Horde became such a powerful force. How they bred their brilliant scientists and released their war machines. How they created their Royal Guard, a squad of inhumanly strong women based on an old legend in their rich, colourful culture.
Both Archimedes and Yasmeen are gorgeous characters. If in the first book there was a great imbalance of power between Rhys and Mina, a lot of prejudice to deal with, here we see completely different dynamics.
Mr. Fox is fascinated by Yasmeen and openly says that he intends to fall in love with her. He is a great adventurer, a thrill seeker and really doesn't have time and patience to delude himself about his own feelings. He knows that Yasmeen most probably will break his heart, but he has to take his chances with her like he does with everything.
Yasmeen on the other hand is full of secrets, she is not afraid to kill, she rules her airship with an iron fist and she doesn't trust men at all. And for a good reason. There is great betrayal and heartbreak in her past.
So, she freely tells Archimedes not to expect anything from her, she's got a heart of steel.
Th plot goes all over the world in search of Da Vinci's sketch first and his hidden clockwork army second. We go through Venice, Vienna and Rome, fly to Morocco and Scandinavian outposts. There are plenty of zombies, evil conspiracies and assassins. There are also scorching and tender love scenes and one stupid captain who meets his end, trying to teach lady Corsair a lesson to which Fox replies something along the lines "For God's sake, woman, can't I save you just one time!" *grinning*
It's humorous, it's dark, it's exciting and full of action. Fabulous read, strong characters with plenty of juicy steampunk. Very much recommended.