Patricia is guest-blogging
As an avid reader of all types of romantic novels - historical, chicklit, paranormal - I have recently been introduced to a new type: Steampunk. I had never heard of this genre so I decided to look up the meaning in Wikipedia where it is described as "a sub-genre of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s. Steampunk involves a setting where steam power is still widely used—usually Victorian era Britain or "Wild West"-era United States—that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology, or futuristic innovations as Victorians might have envisioned them, based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, art, etc". Having read this, I realised that I had in fact been introduced to this world on TV with series such as 'The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr' and to a lesser extent with one of my favourite series, the brilliant 'Firefly'.
My introduction to Steampunk romance was with 2 novels from the
series by Meljean Brook: The Iron Duke and Heart of Steel. Meljean Brook creates a completely new universe where the Mongolian Empire under Genghis Khan has invaded large areas of Asia, Europe and Iron Seas Africa. This is an alternative universe where Leonardo da Vinci created war machines to fight of the invading Mongolian Horde, humans are infected with a nanovirus that turns them into zombies and used as an invading force, while other humans use nanoviruses to help them combat diseases or have artificial limbs implanted to carry out specialised professions. I am not going through this whole new alternative universe here, Brook describes it brilliantly in her website, but what really impressed me is the amount of detail she goes into creating this world.
The Iron Duke is a romance with a murder mystery thrown in and centers around Rhys Traharean (The Iron Duke) a pirate who has helped liberate
from the Horde and Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth who are thrown together when a naked body is found dead on the grounds of the Iron Duke's mansion. The story is foremost a love story between these two very strong personalities who clash at every turn but it also provides insight into the politics of this world while they try to find out who this body is and why it was dumped in the Iron Duke's garden. A large number of supporting characters are introduced including Mina's family and old comrade in arms of the Iron Duke. Two of these characters are the central characters in the second novel of the series Heart of Steel. England
Heart of Steel is equally enjoyable. Archimedes Fox reminded me of a young Indian Jones since he is a Treasure Hunter who smuggles himself into areas which have been invaded by the Horde in order to look for artifacts created before the invasion and then sells them to the highest bidder. His love interest is Yasmeen, the captain of the airship 'Lady Corsair'. They journey all over Europe and
Africa looking for a sketch by Leonardo da Vinci.
After reading these two books, I am not surprised to have seen them pop up on a number of Best of 2011 lists!