I just ticked another romance off my TBR pile: Meljean Brook’s The Iron Duke & all I can say is damn, what a ride!

While this is not strictly a ‘historical,’ I’m certain any fan of thrillers, historicals and/or paranormals would fall in love with this book (sweet, small town romances? not so much). Once I started reading, I could not and did not stop.

Ms. Brook created an imaginative, intricate world whose social and political tensions feel familiar but spring from a series of events that are completely original.

England held for 200 years under Mongol rule, but liberated in the mid 1800’s? Well, OK, that is actually plausable. England having been conquered by nanoagents in sugar? What a marvelous twist on the Trojan horse! Zombies roaming an uninhabited Europe? Sure! Refugees having fled to a “New World” as carved up by colonial powers as the current map of Europe appears to us now? WOW! Add to all of that tensions between those who weathered the occupation vs. those who ran off, but now that England has been liberated, wish to return and recreate their “nostalgized” (excuse my made-up word, please)past and you have a lesson in brilliant world-building.

But to the heart: the romance. Our hero is a Pirate-turned-reluctant-savior-of-England and our heroine is an inspector fighting for justice and peace but looking, to the eyes of many, like the vanquished enemy.

Oh. my. God.

I’m just so happy to have taken the leap and purchased this book. Publisher’s Weekly named it among the best books of 2010, and for very good cause. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, it’s fabulous.

One thing that made this alternate world so much fun for me was my 2007 trip to Mongolia complete with a trip to the ruins of Karakorum. The Mongols left their imprint on the modern world in so many ways we in the west take for granted.

I was just thrilled with this very vivid steampunk romance & I cannot wait for more. In the mean time, here is a pic of me, my husband and our fabulous guide playing Mongol dress-up in Karakorum.

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