Meljean Brook, Heart of Steel

Posted January 13, 2012 by Kathy Davie in

Heart of Steel (Iron Seas, #2)Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook
Series: Tales of the Iron Seas, 2
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Second in The Tales of the Iron Seas steampunk paranormal-romance series about the adventures of a group of rebels fighting against the Horde. The couple focus here is on Yasmeen and Archimedes Fox.

My Take

Wolf is desperate to put together a hefty amount of money to pay off a Horde ruler for the barge of weapons he sank. No payment, no continued life. His other aim in life is to seduce Yasmeen.

Well, I am curious as to how all these letters manage to find the other sibling if Archimedes is always on the move… Of course, I love the descriptions of the gadgets and machines, the culture and the trickery almost as much as the crazy adventures—think Indiana Jones but substitute zombies for those snakes!

One of the differences in this series is Brook’s cocky adventurers with their casual acceptance of the heroes trying to kill each other off or simply attempting to fool each other. It takes a specific ability to separate an attack that’s just business from simple friendship and not harbor resentments. Just as it takes a strong man to hold off from sex simply to enjoy the emotion of denial and desire. Too funny.

When Archimedes points out that she could reach Rabat faster if she sailed with Mad Machen, Yasmeen responds:

‘It serves my interests not to have my friends killed while helping me. A husband, however…it will be quicker than divorce.’

One of the negatives is that Brook skims along without encouraging us to identify with her characters too deeply. There is tension but not much in the way of emotion especially in Archimedes’ seduction of Yasmeen; it’s mostly just words that tell us they are falling in love. I just didn’t feel it.

Brook does provide fodder for future installments with new cities and outposts with their abandoned treasures.

A pure joy to read.

The Story

After tipping Archimedes into a zombie-lined canal in Venice, Yasmeen sails off to Denmark to see his sister Zenobia to explain that she’s stolen Archimedes’ sketch for herself. It’s after her trip to “chat” with Kessler, that she runs into Archimedes again and he “forces” her to hand it back.

Only, nothing falls out as either of them expects when Yasmeen’s beloved Lady and crew goes up in smoke and Archimedes is mugged when he races out to help. Yasmeen is determined to find those who murdered her crew and stole her fake sketch while Archimedes must retrieve the original.

It all leads to greater adventures and the opportunity for romance as they partner up to dance around zombies, assassins, and their pasts when Archimedes is hired by Hassan for the experience Archimedes can bring to their expedition. Unfortunately, between Kareem’s prejudice against unmarried ladies without the protection of their fathers and brothers and Captain Guilleot’s hatred of women in general, Archimedes and Yasmeen must pretend to be married.

So join us for a trip around Europe and into Africa as we search for more treasure including Da Vinci’s clockwork army.

The Characters

Archimedes Fox, a.k.a., Wolfram Gunther-Baptiste, needs the money from that Da Vinci sketch to get Temür Agha off his back. And have the time to court Yasmeen as he desires. He has a passion for adventure—the scarier the better—and a penchant for brightly colored waistcoats.

Zenobia Fox is the sister who writes all the adventure tales about him. She’s just gained permission from Yasmeen to create a new adventure series about her although she has promised to make enough changes to protect her. Zenobia figures people will think this new heroine is based on Mina Wentworth.

Yasmeen, a.k.a., Captain Corsair, sails an airship with a mixed crew. She’s determined to keep her independence. And that doesn’t include having a man in her life. They’re always trying to prove something! Her crew (and friends) includes Mr. & Ms. Pegg; Rousseau, the quartermaster; Ginger; Sarah; Thema; and, Bebé Laverne.

Temür Agha is the governor of Rabat. Nasrin is the ban tsetseg, the steel flower who loves Temür, part of an elite guard serving Horde royalty and favored governors. Hassan is his counselor conspiring with Kareem al-Amazigh to rebel against Temür. Hassan has hired Vincent Ollivier (an assassin who mostly uses poisons) for his maps and diaries; Marsouins, mercenaries skilled in aerial and underwater combat to protect them; and, now he wants Archimedes for his experience.

Guillouet is the captain of the Ceres and has an extreme bias against women on his airship. His crew includes the Vashon brothers, Peter and Paul; Engel, the bitter navigator; Henri who lost his virginity on a table back in Port Fallow; Leroy; Cassel; and, Simon.

Peter “Miracle” Mattson is a weapons smuggler but, for some reason, any partners he has mysteriously die at the conclusion of a deal. Franz Kessler is an art dealer with a big mouth in Port Fallow. Mad Machen sails a pirate ship, the Vesuvius and is a friend of Yasmeen’s. Obadiah Barker is his quartermaster; Jannsen is the ship’s surgeon. Occasionally, they team up with Yasmeen’s Lady Corsair providing air support on the voyage.

A few references to the Iron Duke (see Iron Duke) and the Blacksmith. Ivy Blacksmith is hired to go down in her submersible to retrieve Yasmeen’s strongbox; Eben plans to borrow Big Thom‘s dive suit to ensure her safety. Nergüi is a Horde as well as a very clever inventor (I suspect we’ll be revisiting him and his grandmother Terbish in a future installment).

The Cover

The cover is a foreground of gears, bolts, nuts, washers in a distressed gray with blots of blue and a smoothed round opening focusing the eye on Archimedes stripped to the waist wearing a strap across his bare chest, riveted leather gauntlets, a sword at the ready, and an intent look on his gorgeous face as he stares out at us. In the background is an airship carrying a platform.

The title is all Yasmeen with her Heart of Steel protecting her.

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