Steampunk Romance

Okay, I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately. I haven’t really liked any of the historicals that I’ve read. Not that they’ve been terrible, but there’s nothing about them which has inspired me to write about them. They’ve all been pretty much the same.  Nothing special.  Nothing unique.

So, I’ve decided to talk about an emerging romantic genre that I started reading last year – steampunk romance.

Yes – steampunk romance.

What is it? Well, steampunk is science fiction sub-genre, often set in Victorian England or the American West, which creates an alternative history using steam-based technology and clockwork powered automata.  So add romance, and voilà: steampunk romance!

And if you’re thinking to yourself – ummmm, okay… Need a better visual?   Try this. Remember the oddity that was Will Smith’s movie Wild Wild West? How about the 90’s tv show The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr ? Each incorporated elements of steampunk.

The Iron Duke

I was introduced to steampunk romance when reading Burning Up, a paranormal anthology featuring two exceptional paranormal romance authors: Nalini Singh and Meljean Brook. I absolutely adore Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series and Meljean Brook’s The Guardians.

I assumed that Meljean’s offering would be about the Guardians, but no. Her short story introduced a series called The Iron Seas. Most of the time, a new series by an author is exciting. But to be honest, I was so confused when I started reading her story. I didn’t know WTH was going on. But since I really enjoy her writing, I decided to investigate further rather than setting it aside in a huff.

Fortunately, Meljean explains her steampunk vision and educates the uninformed (i.e. me) in this Q&A.

Heart of Steel

Steampunk is different.  It’s odd.  But Meljean Brook has created an intriguing world.

The Iron Series, an introduction:

The Mongol Horde invades the East and the West, brutally expanding their territory until being stopped at the Hapsburg Wall by machines designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

Decades pass.

Da Vinci dies.

The Horde invent nanoagents that can either (A) control a population or (B) alter the population.

Alter, as in make zombies…  yes… z-o-m-b-i-e-s…

Unfortunately for Europe and Africa, the Horde decides that plan B is the way to go.

Zombies are unleashed. And – surprise! – it turns out, zombies aren’t going to make the Horde’s “that was a great idea” list. Now most of Europe and Africa are infested with the undead, making these places a zombie wasteland.

For some reason, even though the Horde are horrible, England continues to trade with them. (Got to have sugar and tea!) Turns out to be a big mistake since the Horde infect the sugar and tea with nanoagents. After nanoagent ingestion, the English citizenry fall under Horde control and England remains in their control for about two centuries.

The Iron Seas series begins…

Thanks to the bravery and audacity of the Iron Duke, Rhys Trahaearn, England is freed of Horde control. He’s a national hero, but Rhys has enemies. Someone drops a dead body on his doorstep and Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth investigates.

Rhys is immediately intrigued and attracted to Mina, but she resists his attentions. She needs to focus on the investigation and becoming entangled with the Duke, while tempting, is a distraction to duty.

Mina’s family is aristocratic; however her life isn’t carefree. Mina was conceived during a Horde frenzy, and her Horde features make her a constant target for scorn and abuse. In fact, her mother is infamous as the woman who blinded herself when she viewed her infant daughter for the first time.

I really liked how the relationship developed between the Iron Duke and Mina, and I enjoyed the story. Meljean Brooks creates an intricate world that is fascinating.

The Iron Seasis an excellent series which I strongly recommend. I’m still undecided about steampunk genre as a whole, but if Meljean Brook writes it, I’m going to read it.

If you want to read the series, this is the order as of November 2011.  If you click on the links, they will take you to Amazon.com’s website.

  1. The Blushing Bounder” from Wild & Steamy (short story is currently free for e-readers. subject to change.)
  2. Here There Be Monsters” from Burning Up (published first, but second in the series)
  3. The Iron Duke
  4. Heart of Steel
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