• Mina Wentworth and the Invisible City - Epilogue Novella #1.5

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Heart of Steel

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heart of steel audio
Heart of Steel, read by Faye Adele. Available at Audible.com, iTunes, and wherever audiobooks are sold.

“Rising star Brook has created two completely mesmerizing characters whose journeys in this gritty and treacherous world make for heart-stopping fun!”
RT BookReviews ½! RT Top Pick!

Meljean’s Note: This description contains spoilers for The Iron Duke.
Proceed with caution.

Named one of Publishers Weekly’s “Best Books of 2010,” The Iron Duke introduced the gritty, alluring adventure of the Iron Seas. Now, Meljean Brook returns to the world where nanotech fuses with Victorian sensibilities — and steam.

As the mercenary captain of the Lady Corsair, Yasmeen has learned to keep her heart as cold as steel, her only loyalty bound to her ship and her crew. So when a man who once tried to seize her airship returns from the dead, Yasmeen will be damned if she gives him another opportunity to take control.

Treasure-hunter Archimedes Fox isn’t interested in the Lady Corsair — he wants her coldhearted captain and the valuable da Vinci sketch she stole from him. To reclaim it, Archimedes is determined to seduce the stubborn woman who once tossed him to a ravenous pack of zombies, but she’s no easy conquest.

When da Vinci’s sketch attracts a dangerous amount of attention, Yasmeen and Archimedes journey to Horde-occupied Morocco — and straight into their enemy’s hands. But as they fight to save themselves and a city on the brink of rebellion, the greatest peril Yasmeen faces is from the man who seeks to melt her icy heart…

ISBN 978-0425251041
November 1, 2011

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From chapter two of HEART OF STEEL (November 2011) This includes spoilers for THE IRON DUKE. Yasmeen has a valuable sketch on board her airship, which once belonged to a man that she threw overboard into a mob of zombies.

Barker took his leave after finishing the drink Yasmeen owed him, but she stayed on, nursing hers until they were warm. Some nights in a tavern were meant for drinking, and others were meant for listening. Fortunately, nothing she heard suggested that word of the sketch had gone beyond Mattson and Kessler. She turned down one job—a run to the Ivory Market along the Gold Coast of Africa. Lucrative, but he hadn’t been willing to wait until she returned from England, and she wasn’t inviting anyone onto her airship before the sketch was in the Iron Duke’s fortress.

She hadn’t always been able to turn down jobs. Now, she had enough money that she could be choosy when she took on a new one. Even without the fortune that would come after selling the sketch, she could retire in luxury at any time—as could her entire crew.

She never would.

Midnight had gone when Yasmeen decided she’d heard enough. She emerged from the dim tavern into the dark and paused to light a cigarillo, studying the boardwalk along the docks. It was just as busy at night as during the day, but the crowd was comprised of more drunks. Some slumped against the buildings or slept beside crates. Groups of sailors laughed and pounded their chests at the aviators—some of them women, Yasmeen noted, and not one of them alone. The shopgirls and lamplighters walked in pairs, and most of the whores did, too.

Yasmeen sighed. Undoubtedly, she’d soon be teaching some drunken buck a lesson about making assumptions when women walked alone.

She started toward the south dock, picking out Lady Corsair’s sleek silhouette over the harbor. Familiar pride filled her chest. God, her lady was such a beauty—one of the finest skyrunners ever made, and she’d been Yasmeen’s for almost thirteen years now. She knew captains who didn’t last a month—some who weren’t generous toward their crew, or not strict enough to control them. Some who were too careful to make any money, or too careless to live through a job.

She’d made money, and she’d lived through hundreds of jobs during the French war with the Liberé: scouting, privateering, moving weapons or personnel through enemy territory, destroying a specified target. Both the French and the Liberé officers sneered when she’d claimed that her only loyalties were to her crew and the gold, but they used her when they didn’t have anyone good enough or fast enough to do what she could.

Then the war had ended—fizzled out. All of the same animosities still simmered, but there wasn’t enough gold left in the treasuries to pay for it. So Yasmeen had left the New World, returned back across the Atlantic, and carved out her niche by taking almost any job for the right money.

Lately, that meant ferrying passengers over Horde territory in Europe and Africa—a route that most airships-for-hire would never take. Sometimes she acted as a courier, or she partnered with Vesuvius when Mad Machen carried cargo that needed airship support, fighting off anyone who tried to steal it from them.

A routine life, but still an exciting one—and the only kind of settling down that she would ever do.

Yasmeen flicked away her cigarillo, smiling at her own fancy. Routines, excitement, and a particular version of settling down. She’d have to record that thought and send it to Zenobia—along with an account of the little excitement that was about to take place.

Someone was following her.

A man had been trailing her since she’d left the tavern. Not some drunken idiot stumbling into a woman walking alone, but someone who’d deliberately picked her out—and if he’d seen her in the tavern, he must know who she was.

But he must not be interested in killing her. Anyone could have shot her from this distance. Instead he tried to move in closer, using the shadows for cover. He needed lessons in stalking. Her pursuer paused when she did, and though he tried for stealth by tiptoeing, his attempts only made him more obvious. Of course, he couldn’t know that Yasmeen was at her best during the night—and that she had more in common with the cats slinking through the alleys than the lumbering ape that had obviously birthed him.

She’d only taken a few more steps when he finally found his balls and called her name.

“Captain Corsair!”

The voice was young, and quivering with bravado. He’d either taken a bet at the tavern or was going to ask for a position on her ship. Amused, Yasmeen faced him. A dark-haired boy wearing an aviator’s goggles and short jacket and stood quivering in the middle of the—

Pain stabbed the back of her leg. Even as she whipped around, her thigh went numb. An opium dart. Oh, fuck. She ripped it out, too late. Pumped with this amount, her mind was already spinning. Hallucinating. A drunkard rose from a pile of rags, wearing the gaunt face of a dead man.

No, not a drunkard. A handsome liar.

Archimedes Fox.

Yasmeen fumbled for her guns. Her fingers were enormous. He moved fast—or she was slow. Within a blink, he caught her hands, restrained her with barely any effort.

She’d kill him for that.

“Again?” he asked, so smooth and amused. “You’ll have to try harder.”

The bastard. She hadn’t tried at all. And though she tried now, she sagged against him, instead—and for a brief moment, wondered if she’d fallen against a zombie. Each of his ribs felt distinct beneath her hands.

But zombies didn’t swing women up into their arms. And they didn’t talk.

“My sister sends her regards,” he said against her cheek. “And I want my sketch.”

“I’d have let you have it.” She couldn’t keep her eyes open. Her words slurred. “You just had to ask.”

“Liar,” he said softly. “You’d never have given it back.”

Ah, well. He was right about that. But he might have been able to talk her down to forty percent. She began to make the offer, but couldn’t form the words.

Blissful darkness swirled in and carried her away.



“Rising star Brook has created two completely mesmerizing characters whose journeys in this gritty and treacherous world make for heart-stopping fun!”
RT BookReviews ½! RT Top Pick!

HEART OF STEEL will be out November 1st, 2011. It’s available for pre-order:

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