When this book came out for the first time in US I knew nothing of steampunk, but my favourite blogs were positively gushing about it. I read it on a whim and fell in love with this genre - a peculiar love child of gadgetry and sci-fi in a historical setting.
To this day The Iron Duke is THE book that set my standards incredibly high. A dashing airship captain aka former pirate? Check. Clockwork hearts and tiny minuscule mechanisms miraculously repairing your body? Check. A wilful woman in a traditionally male position of authority? Check. Zombies? Check. Kraken? Check. Slavers, religious nuts, racism, adventurers, inventors? Check and many times more check.
There are so so many wonderful facets to this book, that it's not possible for me to describe them all.
Mina is incredible, and her relationships with Rhys strongly remind me of another powerful couple - Eve Dallas and Rourke from In Death series by J.D.Robb aka Nora Roberts.
He is a brute with a loyal and fierce heart whose every action is weighted down by his responsibilities for his people. He has no time or inclination for fripperies and thus he chooses the straightest route to his heart desires. Awkward at social niceties Rhys doesn't understand the complexities of Mina's life and legacy but when he at last does he tries his best to change the situation.
Mina with her Horde's eyes, a child of Frenzy (an impulse sent by The Horde which made people couple so the horde could have more kids as a workforce) faces racism and open hatred all her life. When her investigation brings her to The Iron Duke, the man who freed the country from the oppressors, the spotlight isn't kind to her. It gets worse because Rhys wants her like no other woman and will do anything to get her.
The plot she uncovers endangers all England including her younger brother who is on the ship of the enemy, and Mina will do anything to save him, even risk her reputation and career.
The woman doesn't hesitate in her determination, she aces in their adventures and despite the differences and very hostile and stormy beginning of her relationships with The Iron Duke she finds that they are very similar.
I freaking adore this book, and this is the third time I read it *grinning*
If you are not sure about the genre, this is the best way to find out if you like it or not. However, the only book that came close to Iron Seas epicness in my opinion is Greyfriar by Clay & Susan Griffith.
Recommended to everyone.