I was waiting to receive this book in the Italian translation through interlibrary loan. I've been waiting for more than a month now, and my patience was growing thin, so I decided to go with the English version. I'm still going to borrow the Italian book, when I can finally get my hands on it, because I'm curious to see how they translated a few curious terms (ahem, "buggers" and "bounders" more than anything, although I suspect the translation will water them down quite a bit). But at least I was able to enjoy the story. Oh goodness, what a story.
My interest with the book lay with the steampunk theme. I'm fascinated by steampunk novels. Also, I hadn't read a good romance for adults in a while, and this one promised to be smoking. It didn't disappoint.
The novel is set in steampunk London a few years after the end of the domination on the British Isles by "the Horde" coming from Asia. The Horde managed to get control of the United Kingdom by infecting the population with nanoagents (hidden in the tea and sugar that the English bought from them), thus making most of England inhabitants "buggers". They controlled the population by means of a tower emitting signals at a certain frequency. The Horde domination ended when Rhys Trahaearn, a pirate and merchant, managed to destroy the tower, thus becoming a national hero under the name of Iron Duke. After being rewarded with the title of Duke of Anglesey, he has built a fortune through his merchant fleet. And when a dead body is found in front of his house, detective inspector Mina Wentworth is called to investigate.
Rhys is immediately attracted to Mina and wants to bed her, but she resists. She was born after her mother was raped by Horde people during a "Frenzy" (a moment in which all infected people where made to feel intense sexual desire and no inhibitions, so that the population could increase) and has Asian features, so even though she is the daughter of a count, she is usually treated with contempt by English citizens. She works for a living because her family is quite poor, and knows her chances at marriage are practically non-existent. She is a strong, kick-ass heroine with an independent streak and a penchant for investigation.
The narration, told from Mina's and Rhys's point of view, is quick and exciting. I flew through this book. However, the focus is mainly romance, so expect action scenes to be often short, while romantic twist and turns take more pages. There is no lack of graphic love scenes and explicit language, but I'd say it's well done and never made me cringe. Or at least, the language never did. The situations, on the other hand... At least one sex scene is quite close to rape. But never mind, our heroine can defend herself.
All in all, I really loved this book and can't wait for the sequel. The world building is very captivating.Cover attraction:
above you can see the two English covers. I like them both; the Penguin one maybe hints more at romance, or maybe not, since on the Berkley one the Duke has a bare chest. I find them both good covers with a nice steampunk feeling. On the other hand, you can find on the left the Italian cover. Please do not run away screaming. It's a bit disturbing, as well as distinctly ugly. The gray skin I can understand, but why the red eye? It sort of reminds me of the cover for Stephenie Meyer's The Host, even though I didn't dislike that one half as much as this. As for the title, in Italian it sounds like "The Lineage", and I'm really puzzled as to why they'd choose such a title because I do't think it fits the book at all. Is there a lineage in the book that is significant to the plot and I managed to miss it? I don't think so.
I will definitely be picking up the second book in the Iron Seas series, Heart of Steel.