When picking up The Iron Duke, keep two things in mind. The first is that the primary focus of the novel is romance - and as such, a major action sequence might get a page or two, and a liason seven. The second is that despite this, The Iron Duke does have a plot and a world - an interesting one. An alternative, steampunk Europe, in which Britain has recently been freed from the control of the Horde by the eponymous Iron Duke, Trahaern. Europe is infested with zombies, and the formerly-inslaved British are infected with nanobots, rendering them able to survive - as well as stronger, able to have grafted tools onto their bodies, and generally better slaves to the Horde.
But what of the plot? It begins as a murder investigation, when a frozen corpse is dropped onto the doorstep of the Iron Duke - and Mina, an Inspector, is called to investigate. Soon it becomes apparent that there's a deep-reaching conspiracy at hand - secret, anti nanobot societies within Britain itself, pirates, and old enemies of the Iron Duke are all thrust into the mix. And naturally, the Iron Duke himself is an asset to Mina's investigation... Which, naturally, is where the romance comes in. The plot in itself is engaging, if somewhat thrust out of the spotlight; indeed, the world and story would make for a fun story by any measure. Along, of course, with the usual dose of surprising revelations and twists (and pirates. Who doesn't like pirates with airships?)
So I can certainly applaud these aspects. However, for me, the romantic focus was less a relationship between two characters and more the sexualised romance of a romance novel - not necessarily bad, but not my sort of thing. Rhys begins with pretty much the express goal of bedding Mina, and honestly, it's more than a little graphic at times (and as a primary goal, made me a little uncomfortable - although at least Mina is, for the most part, an individual character rather than a mushy pushover). If you're fine with that as the focus, and are accustomed to the genre's conventions, The Iron Duke is likely your sort of thing, mixing in (as it does) an original world and engaging plot, though given shorter thrift by the dominant romantic aspect. For me, it was a little too much.
So I'm unable to judge this beyond a certain extent!
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