Heart of Steel (Iron Seas, #2)

The Rift Walker (Vampire Empire, #2)

Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook
Pub­lisher: Penguin
Pages: Paperback, 311 pages
Series: Iron Seas
Pub­li­ca­tion date: November 1st 2011

The Iron Duke introduced the gritty, alluring adventure of the Iron Seas, where nanotech fuses with Victorian sensibilities—and steam.
As the mercenary captain of 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 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.

“And what will you do if I fall in love with you, instead?”
He grinned. “Then God help us both.”

First impressions
Aaand of course Germany gets the cool cover. Again. Just look at it.

And compare it to this slimy thing we have. I wouldn’t like to be seen in public while reading this book. People would think I was reading an Erotica book. Yes, Erotica because most people wouldn’t know what an actual Erotica cover looks like. They are still optimistic and think it looks like the Germany cover and not this [protect your eyes, kiddies, this is gonna sting]:

Click to view Spoiler Try reading this in public. Paperback, not eBook.

Anyhow, I was expecting Heart of Steel to be exactly like The Iron Duke. Typical romance blah-blah-blah and they lived happily ever after. The end.

The plot
Yasmeen, mercenary captain extraordinaire, has no regrets after pushing treasure hunter Archimedes Fox to a ravenous pack of zombies after his failed attempt to take control of her ship, the Lady Corsair. She also got her hands on an extremely valuable item Archimedes had found before his tragic death, a sketch of a flying machine drawn by the great inventor Leonardo da Vinci. Lady Luck seems to be on Yasmeen’s side.

The truth is that Archimedes is not dead, but very much alive. He is on a mission to recover his sketch and the perfect retribution seems to be conquering Yasmeen’s heart. Little does he know that Yasmeen is not your typical damsel in distress and winning her heart of steel won’t be an easy task.

My thoughts
Take your average alpha male character. His personality to be exact. Then change his body from male to female. The result would be Yasmeen.
“If you even suggest to my crew that you’ve threatened your way aboard my lady, I’ll rip out your spine.”
He could see she meant it. God. “That’s unbearably arousing.”

Yep, they’re a match made in heaven. She is manlier than him and he is into S/M. It's nice to see this in a story though. I’m so sick of damsels in distress and uber-alpha males and over-oiled bare chests on book covers.

Oh wait; there is an overly-oiled bare chest on the cover. But don’t let it trick you. I was actually surprised by how deep the story is. It’s full of details, scientific terms and great ideas. It feels like Meljean Brook read my review of the previous Iron Seas book, The Iron Duke, and followed some of my suggestions.

Another surprise was the lack of sex.

Chill, of course they have sex. I was thinking that they’d go for it since twenty percent. And before that we’d get too many pages of lustful thoughts and mindless flirting. Wrong. I was in seventy six percent when something happened. Seventy. Six. Percent.

Amazing! And it wasn’t boring. Far from it. The romance built up naturally and by the end their feelings felt genuine. That’s a rare thing to find in romance novels.

A short conclusion
Heart of Steel was a wonderful surprise. I started it in order to clear out my sequels shelf and ended up reading a very good book. It came exactly when I was starting to lose faith in Romance novels. If you are in the mood for a great adventure full of action, strong characters, witty dialogues and don’t mind waiting a while before the romance picks up then Heart of Steel if the book for you.

Favorite quote
And he had more fears now to replace it: fear for her life, fear that when this expedition was over and her vengeance satisfied, he’d never see her again. And though he knew her heart was steel, though he looked forward to the longing of an unrequited love, he also knew the fear that she’d never feel the same in return.

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