Heart of Steel -  Meljean Brook This book didn't have as much of an impact on me as The Iron Duke, but it was still a very welcome kick in the pants that got me off my string of mediocre reading. There wasn't as much sexytimes as I've come to expect in romance novels nowadays, but the chemistry, tension, and character building more than captured my interest in a fulfilling way during the time any other H/h in any other book would be getting down and dirty.

The adventure plot in this story was really fun. I had a great time tagging along as Archimedes and Yasmeen evaded assassins, fought zombies, searched for treasure, hunted murderers in pursuit of vengeance, and sparked a city's rebellion. The action really kept my interest, and, other than the HEA (which is a given, after all), I never would have guessed the ending/resolution for the action/adventure. It was perfect for me, and let's just say that "HEA" is definitely not a misnomer here.

Going into this book, I was inclined not to like Yasmeen, who seemed so harsh and unforgiving in "The Iron Duke." Boy, was I wrong! Yasmeen is AWESOME. I loved her strength, her confidence, her cunning, her awareness, her self-sufficiency, EVERYTHING. She was a great character, and it was wonderful to see her softening towards Archimedes.

Archimedes is the guy that all you sexy beta lovers have been looking for all this time. He's strong and daring, but he's in tune with his feelings and emotions. He's waiting to fall in love with the right woman, and, yes, ladies and gents, Yasmeen is that woman. He's not afraid to let her know it, and it's very interesting and revealing to watch the progression of her reactions to his openness and candor. He is more than content to sit back and let his captain steer the ship, so to speak, while he supports and protects her in his own way. He's not a weakling by any measure, but he is aware of Yasmeen's strengths and ability to outfight him, which doesn't intimidate him, but rather attracts him all the more. That in itself shows a quiet confidence that was very hard to resist.

Both of these characters have quite complex backgrounds that we learn about as the story unfolds. I felt like I was getting to know them better as they got to know each other, and that also helped to pull me into the story. Their histories were revealed nugget by nugget, and the pacing was just right not to feel like an info dump, but enough to sate my curiosity.

In terms of the series, I don't think this would work as a standalone. I really think you need to read "The Iron Duke" first in order to get the full impact of what the history is with the Horde and how the nanoagents work. The author does mention some background elements in "Heart of Steel," but it wasn't enough to grasp the complexities and rather felt like a "refresher" from the first book, not a complete understanding.

I am really curious to know whom Meljean Brook will write about in the next installment for The Iron Seas series. There's a hint that there might be a match between Scarsdale and Zenobia (Archimedes's sis), but I'm not sure how realistic that would be, given that we've already learned that Scarsdale is gay. Who knows, maybe he's bi? I have no idea - all I know is I can't wait for the next one!