The Iron Duke

A Novel of the Iron Seas

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

Audiobook

the iron duke audio
The Iron Duke, read by Faye Adele. Available at Audible.com, iTunes, and wherever audiobooks are sold.

“With The Iron Duke, Meljean Brook has brilliantly defined the new genre of Steampunk Romance. I loved it!” —Jayne Ann Krentz

One of Publishers Weekly‘s Best Romances of 2010, winner of All About Romance‘s Annual Reader Poll for Best Paranormal Romance, and a RT BookReviews Reviewers’ Choice Award Winner!

After the Iron Duke freed England from Horde control, he instantly became a national hero. Now Rhys Trahaearn has built a merchant empire on the power — and fear — of his name. And when a dead body is dropped from an airship onto his doorstep, bringing Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth into his dangerous world, he intends to make her his next possession.

Mina can’t afford his interest, however. Horde blood runs through her veins, and despite the nanotech enhancing her body, she barely scratches out a living in London society. Becoming Rhys’s lover would destroy both her career and her family, yet the investigation prevents her from avoiding him…and the Iron Duke’s ruthless pursuit makes him difficult to resist.

But when Mina uncovers the victim’s identity, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens the lives of everyone in England. To save them, Mina and Rhys must race across zombie-infested wastelands and treacherous oceans — and Mina discovers the danger is not only to her countrymen as she finds herself tempted to give up everything to the Iron Duke.

“…a stunning blend of steampunk setting and poignant romance – smart, sexy, breathtaking, and downright addicting.” —Ilona Andrews, New York Times bestselling author of Magic Bleeds

“…a high seas/airborne adventure that’s filled with zombies, pirates and deadly betrayal. Along with the pulse-pounding adventure, there’s plenty of seriously sensuous sizzle for readers to enjoy.” ½! RT Top Pick!RT BookReviews

“With adept writing and a flair for creating believable worlds, Brook’s first in the Iron Seas series showcases her masterful storytelling.” —Booklist

ISBN 0425244261
October 5, 2010
$7.99

 

Note: The ebook version of The Iron Duke does not include the epilogue novella. Only the mass-market print edition does.

<– The previous book in the series

The next book in the series –>

Epilogue Novella


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READ AN EXCERPT

From the second chapter of The Iron Duke: Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth and her assistant, Constable Newberry, have traveled across London to investigate a murder that reportedly took place on the Iron Duke’s estate.

By the time she and Newberry reached the Isle of Dogs, the nip of the evening air had become a bite. Not a true island, the isle was surrounded on three sides by a bend in the river. The Horde had drained the marshland and built part of it into their commercial and trading center—all looted and burned during the revolution. Afterward, the Crown had granted Trahaearn tracts of land on the island along with his title, and he’d rebuilt the docks that now serviced his trading company’s ships and the merchants who paid for the space. At the center of the island, near the Marshwall dock, he’d razed the remains of the Horde’s holdings and built his fortress on the ashes.

The high, wrought-iron fence that surrounded his park had earned him the nickname the Iron Duke—the iron kept the rest of London out, and whatever riches he hid inside, in. The spikes topping the fence prevented anyone in the surrounding slums from scaling it, and no one was invited to his house. At least, no one in Mina’s circle, or her mother’s.

She was never certain if their circle was too high, or too low.

Newberry stopped in front of the gate. When a face appeared at the small gatehouse window, he shouted, “Detective Inspector Wentworth, on police business! Open her up!”

The gatekeeper appeared, a grizzled man with a long gray beard and a heavy clanking step that marked a prosthetic leg. A former pirate, Mina guessed. Though the Crown insisted that Trahaearn and his men had all been privateers, acting with the permission of the king, only a few children who didn’t know any better believed it. The rest of them knew the story was designed to bolster faith in the king and his ministers after the revolution. Bestowing a title on Trahaearn had been one of King Edward’s last cogent acts. The crew had been given naval commissions, and Marco’s Terror pressed into the service of the Royal Navy . . . where the ship had supposedly been all along.

The Iron Duke had traded the Terror and the seas for a title and a fortress in the middle of a slum. Mina wondered if he felt that exchange had been worth it.

The gatekeeper glanced at her. “And the jade?”

At Mina’s side, Newberry bristled. “She is Lady Wilhelmina Wentworth, the detective inspector.”

Oh, Newberry. In Manhattan City, a title still meant something. In England, it only meant that Mina’s family hadn’t been subjected to the same horrors that the lower classes had suffered under the Horde. And when the gatekeeper looked at her again, she knew what he saw—and it wasn’t a lady. Nor was it the epaulettes declaring her rank, or the red band sewed into her sleeve, boasting that she’d spilled Horde blood in the revolution.

No, he saw her face, calculated her age, and understood that she’d been conceived during a Frenzy. And that, because of her family’s status, her mother and father had been allowed to keep her rather than being taken by the Horde to be raised in a crèche.

The gatekeeper looked at her assistant. “Then who are you?”

“Constable Newberry.”

Scratching his beard, the old man clanked back toward the gatehouse. “All right. I’ll be sending a gram up to the captain, then.”

He still called the Iron Duke “captain”? Mina could not decide if that said more about Trahaearn’s opinion of his new rank, or the gatekeeper’s. But whatever his staff thought of his title, Trahaearn apparently didn’t force them to address him by it.

The gatekeeper didn’t return—and former pirate or not, he must be literate if he could write a gram and read the answer from the main house. That answer came quickly. She and Newberry hadn’t waited more than a minute before the gates opened on well-oiled hinges.

The park was enormous, with green lawns stretching into the dark. Dogs sniffed along the fence, their handlers bundled up against the cold. If someone had invaded the property, he wouldn’t find many hiding places on the grounds. All of the shrubs and trees were still young, planted after Trahaearn had been granted the property.

The house rivaled Chesterfield before that great building had been burned during the revolution. Of gray stone, two rectangular wings jutted forward to form a large courtyard. Unadorned casements decorated the many windows, and the blocky stone front was relieved only by the window glass and the balustrade along the edge of the roof. A fountain tinkled at the center of the courtyard. Behind it, the main steps created semicircles leading to the entrance.

On the center of the steps, a white sheet concealed a body-shaped lump. No blood soaked through the sheet. A man waited on the top step, his slight form in a poker-straight posture that Mina couldn’t place for a moment. Then it struck her: navy. Probably another pirate, though this one had been a sailor—or an officer—first.

A house of this size would require an army of staff, and she and Newberry would have to question each one. Soon, she’d know how many of Trahaearn’s pirates had come to dry land with him.

As they reached the fountain, she turned to Newberry. “Stop here. Set up your camera by the body. Take photographs of everything before we move it.”

Newberry parked and climbed out. Mina didn’t wait for him to gather his equipment. She strode toward the house. The man descended the steps to greet her, and she was forced to revise her opinion. His posture wasn’t rigid discipline, but a cover for wiry, contained energy. His dark hair slicked back from a flushed, narrow face. Unlike the man at the gate, he was neat, and almost bursting with the need to help.

“Inspector Wentworth.” With ink-stained fingers, he gestured to the body, inviting her to look.

She wasn’t in a rush. The body wouldn’t go anywhere. “Mr—?”

“St. John.” He said it like a bounder, rather than the two abbreviated syllables of someone born in England. “Steward to His Grace’s estate.”

“This estate or his property in Wales?” Which, as far as Mina was aware, Trahaearn didn’t often visit.

“His estate on Anglesey, inspector.”

Newberry passed them, carrying the heavy photographic equipment. St. John half turned, as if to offer his assistance, then glanced back as Mina asked,

“When did you arrive here from Wales, Mr. St. John?”

“Yesterday.”

“Did you witness what happened here?”

He shook his head. “I was in the study when I heard the footman—Chesley—inform the housekeeper that someone had fallen. Mrs. Lavery then told His Grace.”

Mina frowned. She hadn’t been called out here because someone had been a clumsy oaf, had she? “Someone tripped on the stairs?”

“No, inspector. Fallen.” His hand made a sharp dive from his shoulder to his hip.

Mina glanced at the body again, then at the balustrade lining the roof. “Do you know who it was?”

“No.”

She was not surprised. If he managed the Welsh estate, he wouldn’t know the London staff well. “Who covered him with the sheet?”

“I did, after His Grace sent the staff back into the house.”

So they’d all come out to gawk. “Did anyone identify him while they were outside?”

“No.”

Or maybe they just hadn’t spoken up. “Where is the staff now?”

“They are gathered in the main parlor.”

Where they’d pass the story around until they were each convinced they’d witnessed it personally. Blast. Mina firmed her lips.

As if interpreting her frustration, St. John added, “The footman is alone in the study, however. His Grace told him to remain there. He hasn’t spoken with anyone else since Mrs. Lavery told His Grace.”

The footman had been taken into the study and asked nothing? “But he has talked to the duke?”

The answer came from behind her, from a voice that could carry his commands across a ship. “He has, inspector.”

She turned to find a man as big as his voice. Oh, damn the newssheets. They hadn’t been kind to him—they’d been kind to their readers, protecting them from the effect of this man. A hollow fear shivered within her, much like the first time she’d run into a razor-clawed ratcatcher in an alley—the instinctive knowledge that she faced something dangerous and that she didn’t wholly understand.

Not that he looked strange, or mutated as those ratcatchers were. He was just as hard and as handsome as the caricatures had portrayed—altogether dark and forbidding, with a gaze as pointed and as guarded as the fence that was his namesake. The Iron Duke wasn’t as tall as his statue, but still taller than any man had a right to be, and as broad through the shoulders as Newberry, but without the spare flesh.

But it was not his size that made her wary. And for the first time, she could see why his crew might follow him through kraken-infested waters or into Horde territory, then follow him back onto shore and remain with him. When he leveled that cold, detached gaze at them, as if he couldn’t care less whether they dropped dead in front of him, they would be too terrified to do anything else. He leveled it at Mina now, and the message in his eyes was clear.

He didn’t want her here.

Because of her bloodline or her occupation? Mina couldn’t decide. It hardly mattered, anyway—she was here now.

She glanced at the man standing beside him: tall, brown-haired, his expression bored. Mina didn’t recognize him. Like the Iron Duke, he wore a fashionable black overcoat, breeches, and boots. A red waistcoat buckled like armor over a white shirt with a simple collar reminiscent of the Horde’s tunic collar. Perhaps a bounder and, if so, probably an aristocrat—and he likely expected to be treated as one.

Bully for him.

She looked to the duke again. Though she’d never been introduced to someone of his standing before, she’d seen Superintendent Hale meet a marquess without a single gesture to acknowledge that he ranked above her. Mina followed that example and offered a short nod before addressing him.

“Your Grace, I understand that you did not witness this man die.”

“No.”

“And your companion . . . ?”

“Also saw nothing,” the other man answered.

She’d been right; his accent marked him as a bounder. Yet she had to revise her opinion of him. He wasn’t bored by death—just too familiar with it to be excited by yet another. She couldn’t understand that. The more death she saw, the more the injustice of each one touched her. “Your name, sir?”

His smile seemed just at the edge of a laugh. “Mr. Smith.”

A joker. How fun.

She thought a flicker of irritation crossed the duke’s expression. But when he didn’t offer his companion’s true name, she let it go. One of the staff would know.

“Mr. St. John has told me that no one has identified the body, and only your footman saw his fall.”

“Yes.”

“Did your footman relate anything else to you?”

“Only that he didn’t scream.”

No scream? Either the man had been drunk, asleep, or already dead. She would soon find out which it was.

“If you’ll pardon me.” With a nod, she turned toward the steps, where Newberry adjusted the camera’s thermite flash. She heard the Iron Duke and his companion follow her. As long as they did not touch the body or try to help her examine it, she did not care.

Mina looked down at her hands. She would touch the body, and Newberry hadn’t brought her serviceable wool gloves to exchange for her white evening gloves. They were only satin—neither her mother’s tinkering nor her own salary could afford kid—but they were still too dear to ruin.

She tugged at the tips of her fingers, but the fastenings at her wrist prevented them from sliding off. Futilely, she tried to push the small buttons through equally small satin loops. The seams at the tips of her fingers made them too bulky, and the fabric was too slippery. She looked round for Newberry, and saw that the black powder from the ferrotype camera already dusted his hands. Blast it. She would bite them through, if she had to. Even the despised task of sewing the buttons back on would be easier than—

“Give your hand over, inspector.”

Mina hackles rose at the command. She looked up into Trahaearn’s face and heard a noise from his companion, a snorted half laugh—as if Trahaearn had failed an easy test.

The duke’s expression didn’t soften, though his words did. “You’ll finish more quickly if I assist you. Will you allow me?”

No, she thought. Do not touch me, do not come close. But the body on the steps would not allow her that reply.

“Yes. Thank you.”

She held out her hand and watched as he removed his own gloves. Kid, lined with sable. Just imagining the luxurious softness warmed her.

Mina wouldn’t have been surprised if his presence had, as well. With his great size, Trahaearn seemed to surround her with heat just by standing so near. His hands were large, his fingers long and nails square. As he took her wrist in his left palm, calluses audibly scraped the satin. His face darkened. She could not tell if it was in anger or embarrassment.

However rough his skin was, his fingers were nimble. He deftly unfastened the first button, and the next. “This was not the evening you had planned.”

“No.”

She did not say this was preferable to the Victory Ball, but perhaps he read it in her voice. To her surprise, his teeth flashed in a smile—then his face quickly hardened again, as if his smile had surprised him, as well. He bent his head over her hand again and Mina found herself staring at his short eyelashes, so thick and black that his eyelids seemed lined with kohl. She looked away, but gold glinting through the thickness of his dark hair drew her gaze again.

Three tiny rings pierced the top curve of each ear. His earlobes had been pierced, too, though he wore no jewelry in them.

And so the newssheets had dressed him up. In a drawing, his thickly-lashed eyes and jewelry would have appeared feminine. But not up close, not in person. Instead, the effect was . . . primitive.

Unsettled, she focused on her wrist. Only two buttons left, and then she could work.

She should be working now. “Were the dogs patrolling the grounds before the body was discovered?”

“No. They search for the point of entry now.”

Mina pictured the iron fence. Perhaps a child could slip through the bars; a man could not. But if someone had let him through . . . ? “Have you spoken with your man at the front gate?”

“Wills?”

She had not asked the gatekeeper his name. “If Wills has a prosthetic left leg, and often saves a portion of his supper in his beard for his breakfast, then we are speaking of the same man.”

“That is Wills.” He studied her with unreadable eyes. “He wouldn’t let anyone through.”

Without my leave, Mina finished for him. And perhaps he was correct, though of course she would verify it with the gatekeeper, and ask the housekeeper about deliveries. Someone might have hidden themselves in one.

His gaze fell to her glove again. “There we are,” Trahaearn said. “Now to . . .”

She pulled her hand away at the same time Trahaearn gripped the satin fingertips. He tugged. Satin slid in a warm caress over her elbow, her forearm.

Flames lit her cheeks. “Sir—”

His expression changed as he continued to pull. First registering surprise, as if he hadn’t realized the glove extended past her wrist. Then an emotion hard and sharp as the long glove slowly gave way. Its white length finally dangled from his fingers, and to Mina seemed as intimate as if he held her stocking.

Her sleeve still covered her arm, but she felt exposed. Stripped. With as much dignity as she could, Mina claimed the glove.

“Thank you. I can manage the other.” She stuffed the glove into her pocket. With her bare fingers, she made quick work of the buttons at her left wrist.

Mina looked up to find him staring at her. His cheekbones blazed with color, his gaze hot.

She’d seen lust before. This marked the first time that she hadn’t seen any disgust or hatred beneath it.

“Thank you,” she said again, amazed by the evenness of her voice when everything inside her trembled.

“Inspector.” He inclined his head, then looked beyond her to the stairs.

And as she turned, the trembling stopped. Her legs were steady as she walked to the steps, her mind focused.

“Tell me, captain: Did you plan to assist her, or undress her?” she heard his companion ask. Trahaearn didn’t reply, and Mina didn’t look back at him.

Even the pull of the Iron Duke was not stronger than death.

***

Mina had come to recognize patterns to death—when calculation or passion drove violence, when it was accidental or deliberate. But as she bent over the body on the stairs of Trahaearn’s mansion, she could make no sense of this pattern.

Naked, the brown-haired male lay facedown, his left arm trapped beneath him, his legs splayed. No markings or wounds marred his flesh.

But this was not a freshly dead body. The skin had blackened, and was shockingly cold—much colder than the surrounding air. The tissues hadn’t swollen, but the impact against the stairs might have deflated the gases like a burst balloon. Only a small amount of blood, thick and congealed, had splattered the stairs.

Mina turned the head. The face was completely smashed. Identification would be difficult. She opened the broken jaw. The teeth shattered, and the tongue . . . Frowning, she slipped her fingers into his mouth. The thick muscle at the back of his tongue felt as solid and as cold as ice. Though he was thawing now, at some point this man’s body had been frozen.

She glanced over her shoulder at Newberry. “Have you finished with the photographs? I need to turn him.”

When the constable nodded, she slid her hands beneath the shoulder and hip and rolled him. The torso remained a solid block. The leg flopped over like a half-cooked pudding stuffed into a sausage casing.

From behind Mina came the sound of Newberry retching, though he held it in. St. John didn’t. The Iron Duke’s companion muttered something before turning away.

Mina had to swallow hard, but she continued her examination. The bones had apparently been pulverized when he’d landed, but she couldn’t see any wounds aside from the smashing. Perhaps he’d been beaten around the face and the evidence had been erased by the fall.

When she lifted his left arm, it remained stiff, as if still in full rigor. How strange. Unlike the legs and his right arm, the bones hadn’t shattered. She scratched lightly at the gray skin, and her nails didn’t leave a mark—probably a prosthetic constructed of mechanical flesh.

If so, someone would be looking for this man. Mechanical flesh didn’t come cheaply.

But she would have to finish her examination at the station. She pulled the cloth back over the body as the house’s front door opened.

A stout, curly-haired woman came out, keys jangling at her ample waist. “Begging your pardon, Your Grace, but a gram from Mr. Wills has just arrived. A police wagon has come for the body.”

The housekeeper sounded uncertain. Mina wondered if she expected the duke to deny the wagon entrance to the estate. And Trahaearn did appear as if he resented the idea of them taking away the body—his lips had thinned, as if he struggled against an automatic response.

Trahaearn met her eyes. Another moment passed before he said, “Let them through.”

Behind him, his companion shook his head, looking ill. He started up the stairs. “And I intend to drink until I can imagine that leg is stiff again.”

Mina stood before the duke could join him. “With your permission, I would like to see the roof.”

St. John stepped forward. “Certainly, inspector. I will—”

“Remain with the constable while I show her the roof,” Trahaearn said.

St. John flushed. Mina glanced at Newberry, and he nodded. She didn’t need to give him an instruction out loud. Newberry knew to stay with the body until they loaded it onto the wagon.

She followed the duke into the house. Though the foyer was enormous and gas lamps lighted the entrance, dark paneling on the walls gave the impression of a cave. She had little opportunity to look farther. Trahaearn turned left into the first shadowed parlor and strode toward the far wall, where a metal grating formed a gate. He slid the grating aside, revealing a small lift, and stepped into the cage.

As soon as she crowded in next to him, he threw the lever. With a sharp rattle, the lift began to rise. Mina pushed her back to the side of the car. The Iron Duke stared down at her like another man might examine a worm. Only inches separated them, and her imagination—so useful when determining a murderer’s motive—was not so helpful when she shared a confined space with a pirate. The newssheets might spread rumors that he’d never raped anyone, but they’d also called him a privateer.

She tamped down her nervousness and forced herself to focus. “Does anyone else use this lift?”

“No.”

“Is there stair access?”

“Yes.”

She would ask the staff members if they’d seen anyone use the stairs. Mina suspected that the dead man hadn’t fallen from the roof, however, but from something higher.

To her relief, the lift rattled to a stop a moment later. Even before Trahaearn opened the grating, she could see that the roof had been designed with defense in mind. Cannons and rail guns lined the balustrade like a ship’s hull. The great lawns provided no cover for anyone attempting to cross the park. Past the fence lay the docks and the warehouses, the buildings crowding the riverside, and beyond them, the lanterns of the ships and barges on the Thames.

With no traffic and no nearby residences, the night was quiet. Shockingly so.

She almost said as much, until she glanced at the Iron Duke and found him watching her.

Unsettled by that penetrating gaze, she looked up. Airships weren’t permitted to fly over the city unless they’d been granted special permission. Cloud cover and haze could conceal one, however. As long as the crew didn’t fire its engines, an airship could sail silently over London without drawing notice.

She turned to the duke. “Were you outside when the incident took place?”

“No. I was at dinner.”

If he’d been interrupted, a peek into the dining rooms would confirm that. “Do you recall any unusual noises while you were dining? An engine, perhaps?”

“No.”

“And after the body was discovered?”

She saw the speculation in his gaze before he said, “No.”

“Have you received any threats?” That question would be of the utmost importance to Superintendent Hale, and everyone else Mina answered to. The Iron Duke must be kept safe.

“Yes.” A brief smile accompanied his answer.

Of course he had. “Threats from anyone who would dare act on them?”

“No.”

And if someone had, Mina suspected that she’d never have been called. A law unto himself, he’d have concealed the evidence. Indeed, she was surprised he hadn’t hidden this—or handled it on his own. Which begged the question, “Why did you contact police headquarters?”

When he didn’t answer, she realized, “You didn’t. Who did?”

His gaze sharpened, as if she’d surprised him in return. Still, he offered her nothing else. Protecting his people? She could not decide.

“Tell me, sir—how long has Mr. St. John been a member of your staff?”

This time, he said, “Three days.”

So the new steward hadn’t known better, and contacted the police rather than letting Trahaearn deal with the corpse in his own way. “And if I have questions to ask of him in three more days’ time, will I find him still in your employ?”

“That depends, inspector. If you discover that he knew the man under the sheet, then you will not find him.”

Had he just promised to kill St. John if the steward was connected to the dead man? Anger began a slow burn in her chest.

“And if he doesn’t know him?”

“Then St. John will be here.”

But less eager to talk to her, Mina suspected. So it would have to be now. “I’ve finished here. If you arrange for my use of a room, I would like to speak with your staff.”

His gaze ran over her before he nodded. She preceded him into that tiny lift again—though it would not have seemed so small and crowded if the Iron Duke had not taken up so much room. With so little space between them, she was aware of his every breath and movement, the faint scent of smoke and cedar that clung to his overcoat. Pressing back against the side of the cage, she focused at a point beyond his shoulder and ignored the uneasiness gnawing at her nerves.

Trahaearn pushed the lever forward, and the lift began a smooth, slow descent. “So he was thrown from an airship.”

“That conclusion is premature. We’ve seen no concrete evidence of an airship, only the suggestion of one.”

He frowned. “His bones are shattered, yet you must see an airship to know what happened to him?”

“I must see evidence of an airship,” Mina repeated, controlling her irritation. “Most likely, the body will give that evidence to me. But it requires further examination before I will say definitively that he was thrown from an airship, because I have seen other bodies similarly damaged by pulverizing hammers. And if I draw conclusions too hastily, I risk overlooking information that points to his murderer—or making assumptions that will lead to the wrong man. I will accept neither of those outcomes.”

His gaze searched her features. Finally, he gave a short nod—as if she needed his permission to proceed. He certainly had a high opinion of himself. Unfortunately, everyone else in England shared that view.

But aside from his arrogance, Mina could not pin him at all. Meeting his eyes, she said, “I was called away from a ball that was partly in your honor.”

He smiled slightly. “Yes.”

And that was all he had to say? It told her almost nothing. She tried again, this time hoping to get a rise from him. “Did you choose not to attend, Your Grace? Or perhaps you did not receive an invitation.”

“I received several.”

Humor had touched his eyes. And so he was amused rather than offended—but she could not determine if he laughed at the question or at her.

The lift reached the main floor, stopping with a clang and a jolt. The duke looked down at her for another moment before sliding open the gate. She swept past him into the parlor, thinking aloud.

“You are well-loved in this town, yet a corpse falls on your steps.” She turned to face him. “Perhaps it is not a threat, but someone trying to get your attention.”

“They should have chosen another method.”

Not even amusement now—just detachment again. Mina frowned at him.

“Do you care that a man is dead, sir? Beyond the possible threat to you, or the insult, or whatever motive his murderer had—do you care that a man is dead?”

He met her gaze squarely. “I don’t know him from a Castilian trapping for furs through American forests or a Hindustani enslaved by the Horde in India. Do you weep over the fate of every man you don’t know?”

She wasn’t weeping over this one, but she did feel the injustice of it. “I don’t know his name, but he isn’t a stranger to me now, some hypothetical individual who lives across the globe. Nor is he to you—and odds are, he is here because of some connection to you.”

His eyes narrowed, and although humor glinted within them again, it was a cold and dangerous light. Mina suppressed the urge to step back and draw her weapon.

“Then find out who he is and why he’s on my doorstep . . . and I will make whoever did it sorry they caught my attention.”

She had no doubt he would. And although Mina had every intention of solving both the mystery of the man’s identity and his death, now she had even more reason not to fail.

She didn’t want to be the one who attracted the Iron Duke’s notice.

Reviews

“With The Iron Duke, Meljean Brook has brilliantly defined the new genre of Steampunk Romance. I loved it!” —Jayne Ann Krentz, New York Times Bestselling Author

“…a stunning blend of steampunk setting and poignant romance – smart, sexy, breathtaking, and downright addicting.” —Ilona Andrews, New York Times bestselling author of Magic Bleeds

“…a high seas/airborne adventure that’s filled with zombies, pirates and deadly betrayal. Along with the pulse-pounding adventure, there’s plenty of seriously sensuous sizzle for readers to enjoy.” (4½ stars, Top Pick!) —RT BookReviews

“With adept writing and a flair for creating believable worlds, Brook’s first in the Iron Seas series showcases her masterful storytelling.” —Booklist

The Iron Duke was an intense read that created conflicting emotions in me, but which in the end proved a gripping experience I wouldn’t have wanted to miss. The Iron Seas series has catapulted itself on my autobuy list … I recommend it most highly.” —All About Romance

(Starred Review) “Airships, zombies, nanotechnology, outlandish secondary characters, and a complicated heroine–who goes from believing “Dead people of all sorts were more tolerable than most of those living” to being willing to love–make for a complex, gripping read.” —Publishers Weekly