The Kraken King (Part 1) by Meljean Brook

20645265
Grade: A
Hotness Level: Ember
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Steampunk, Serial
Series: Iron Seas #4.1 (Part 1 of 8 parts for this story)
Published: 4/15/14
Reviewed by Anne
78 ebook pages

So, I did something I swore to myself I’d never do… I started a serial.  I hate cliffhangers.  I’d rather wait a serial out and read the whole thing once it’s done!  But then I saw this one.  And it’s Meljean Brook.  MELJEAN BROOK!  And it’s in the Iron Seas world.  One of the coolest worlds I’ve read.  Best steampunk I’ve read.  And can I wait until August to read the whole thing??? No.  I cannot.  So here I sit, in the mess I made for myself, wanting more but having to wait until the next installment.  Because it was GOOD.

Zenobia Fox, author of the tales of Archimedes Fox and Lady Lynx has always lived in the adventures she writes.  Besides a couple kidnappings, she hasn’t traveled much.  But she’s off to see the world now.  She’s smart about it, though, as she’s travelling under an assumed name and taking her trusted body guards with her.

Not long into her journey, the airship she’s on is attacked and blown up.  She’s rescued by her bodyguards, her own coolheadedness, AND by the Kraken King.  Ariq, the Kraken King, goes by many names. He’s mayor of his isolated town and has been fighting off and investigating the group that took down Zenobia’s ship.  Zenobia and her friends take shelter in his town as they wait for another ship to take them on to their destination.

I don’t think there’s anything mind shattering about the plot as it seems to be standard adventure fare, but the book really shines in the relationship between Ariq and Zenobia.  They’ve got a lot of sexual tension and they don’t deny it! Acknowledging it doesn’t mean acting on it, necessarily.  They’re both smart, and they’re not going to make stupid decisions.  There is no TSTL in this story!  Zenobia not only depends on her bodyguards, but she listens to them!

I’m primarily a romance reader, so I appreciate the development of Zenobia and Ariq’s relationship, but the action sequences really rock, too!  The escape from the airship was a scene I could picture in a blockbuster summer movie!  Well written and exciting!  And I really want to see the dead Kraken on the beach!

My only complaint (besides the fact that it’s a serial, and that’s my own fault for being weak and not waiting it out…) was the misunderstanding set up in this installment.  I hope that’s cleared up soon.

I think this one would stand alone if you hadn’t read the rest of the series.  The characters are all new – Zenobia has been mentioned in other books, but not featured.  The world building is easy to catch on to.  So, go forth and enjoy!  Join me in the agony of waiting for the next installment!

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Fire & Frost (Sims, Crane & Brook)

Fire & Frost (Iron Seas, #3.4; Code of Shadows, #0.5)

Grade: B+
Hotness Level: Blaze
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Paranormal, Steampunk, Novellas
Series: see below
Reviewed by Anne
 
This is a set of three novellas.  To make things a bit easier on myself, I’m going to use the cover blurbs off of Goodreads
 
Speed Mating by Jessica Sims – Estrella may be going into heat, but she’s determined to remain in control. Just because she’s ovulating doesn’t mean she has to settle for just any man (or his beast). Her sexy alpha’s determined to find her a tiger to take care of her heat and father her child…but no one seems to look quite as good as the man in charge. Will giving in to her need for her alpha ruin her tenuous relationship with her clan or be a match made in heaven?
This was really cute and funny.  I enjoy Jessica Sims/Jill Myles’ sense of humor.  This story takes place in her Midnight Liaisons world, but it stands alone just fine.  I smiled the whole time I was reading and only said “Would you just TALK to each other” only once!

Conjuring Max by Carolyn Crane – The witches of the world ridiculed and rejected nerdy Veronica for trying to use newfangled computers to enhance old world spellcasting. Well, it’s 1984 now, and she’s perfected her spellcasting computer program. Hey, who needs friends when you can conjure virtually anything…or anybody? So when Veronica makes powerful new enemies, she conjures Max, a pitbull of a cop, to deal with the pesky hitmen who keep coming around. Maybe Veronica can finally get some peace and quiet so she can work on her computer. But tough-guy Max is in no mood to play lapdog to a gorgeous witch.

 
This was intellectually interesting, but just an ok read for me.  Goodreads shows this as a prequel in her Code of Shadows world.

Wrecked by Meljean Brook – Elizabeth has spent the past five years running from her father; her father’s huntsman, Caius, has spent the past five years pursuing her. But when he finally catches up to her on an airship flying above Europe’s zombie-infested cities, Elizabeth discovers that Caius isn’t the only danger she has to fear—and now that he’s found her, Caius doesn’t intend to let her go.

This one just barely edged out Speed Mating as my favorite entry in the book.  It’s listed as Iron Seas books 3.4.  I think I’ve read almost all of them, and loved every one, so it was no surprise that I enjoyed Elizabeth and Caius’ story.  I think Meljean Brook does steampunk better than anyone else.  Reading a story by her is just delightful.  Elizabeth is a strong female character who has managed to outwit and out run Caius and other hunters for years.  The story is packed with adventure, too.  
I recommend this book.  Another quality anthology put out by Sims, Crane, and Brook.  Wild and Steamy was another set of novellas they released.  Also really good.)

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

The Iron Duke (Iron Seas, #1)
Grade – A
Hotness Level – Blaze
Kink Level – no kink

Genre – Steampunk

Series: Iron Seas #1
Reviewed by Anne


I’ll preface this review by saying this book is an all time favorite of mine. I recently re-read it and I liked it even more, so there might be a bit of fangirl gushing going on today.

 

The Iron Seas series by Meljean Brook is steampunk. It’s an alternate history where some things are the same, but others went along a different path. So in The Iron Duke, we have a historical England that has recently escaped enslavement by The Horde. The Horde controlled the people by infecting their blood with “bugs”.  They also used technology to change the people in ways to match their slave occupation.  So a miner might have a pick axe for an arm and so on.  

The Horde looks different than your average English person. (I picutre the Horde as Asian.) The Horde was driven out of England due to actions by Rhys Traehearn, aka the Iron Duke. He’s a national hero. On the other hand, Mina, who is the product of her loving English mother and a member of the Horde who raped her, is pretty much despised on sight by everyone due to her Horde looks. Despite that, she’s an inspector with the police force, and the book starts when she’s called to investigate a death on Traehearn’s property.

Traehearn nearly immediately thinks Mina is someone he would like to have. Mina also feels an attraction to Traehearn, but for reasons of her own would never act on this attraction.  Traehearn is determined and the investigation keeps them together.  Unfortunately and fortunately, the investigation quickly deepens and gets more complicated.  This leads to lots of adventure and more time for them to spend together.

There is so much good about this book. Even the things that bothered me initially turned out to be so well handled, that in the end I didn’t have a complaint.  One example is Thraehearn’s alpha-ness.  When he first meets Mina he is enthralled by her.  She is interesting.  He wants to have her.  He gives no thought to her feelings.  He’s quite confident that she will be amenable to anything he wants.  Her resistance just makes her more attractive to him.  He’s rich enough that he can pull strings to get whatever he wants, and he doesn’t hesitate to force Mina into a situation where she has to go along with him.  He’s really an arrogant ass.  So the author has a big job in turning him into a sympathetic character.  But she does it and she does it well.  Amazingly, at the end of the book, Traehearn is every bit as much of a take charge alpha man as he was at the beginning.  He has a greater understanding and love for Mina, though, and that comes through loud and clear.  He’s not afraid to make sacrifices to ensure her happiness, even if he’s awfully alpha about how he does it.
 
Another thing I really appreciated was that Meljean Brook builds an interesting world, and she does it without boring info dumps.  The book has great secondary characters, too.  It’s got ships on the sea and air ships that float under huge balloons!  It’s got zombies and mechanical flesh.  It’s got the best of sci fi/fantasy and romance together.  I highly recommend this entire series!
 
One final note.  There is a prequel to this story.  It’s a short story called Here There Be Monsters.  (It’s in the anthology Burning Up.)  It’s one of my all time favorite short stories and is only loosely related to the Iron Duke.  However, reading it first probably did help me understand the world building.