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REVIEW: Riveted by Meljean Brook

Dear Ms. Brook:

“For two people who don’t fit anywhere, we get along well” sums up the romance between two outsiders, David and Annika.  This unusual romance between a the volcanic naturalist David and the airship engineer Annika might be my favorite entry in your Iron Seas series.  It is one of my favorite books of 2012.   My review may be TL;DR for many (Too Long;Didn’t Read) so I’ll provide a short summary.  Two outsiders meet, fall in love, overcome impossible conflicts, and confess their love for each other amidst an epic snow filled scene.

Riveted Meljean BrookDavid is a naturalist ostensibly mapping out volcanoes in Iceland, but he’s also a man with a secret mission – to place his mother’s necklace of runes at the burial site of her maternal forebears.  Annika is an engineer for Captain Vashon’s airship. She signed on four years ago to find her sister, Kalla, who left their small Icelandic village.  When David becomes a passenger on Captain Vashon’s airship en route to Iceland, David and Annika fall for each other.

His mother never spoke of the location of her home, but David knows it is in Iceland and if he has to survey the entire Island to find the home, he will. Annika is from that same region but she refuses to tell David the information he wants to know because she cannot expose her people to the world. They’ve been hidden for 100 years in safety. Some of the people from the village leave and return only for visits, helping to facilitate commerce for the village but everyone keeps the location and its existence a secret. (I wondered if this was the Iron Seas version of an Amish steampunk romance and Annika was on an extended rumspringa).

The conflict would be enough for most books, but this series has always been about the exploration of Other.

Annika set out in search of her sister who was cast out for a misdeed of Annika’s.  Burdened by guilt and shame, Annika seeks not only her sister, but redemption for herself so that she can show her village that she is more than the “rabbit” they have nicknamed her.  Annika’s upbringing in her village was unconventional compared to the rigid rules of the New World and other locations she has visited, each with their own customs and societal expectations. She is often deemed improper. While she “fit” at home, she was also viewed as timid and weak. To some extent she is off on this journey to find herself.

David’s family suffered from a tragedy caused by an inventor – it was in this tragedy that David lost his mother and parts of his body.  They reconstructed him out of metal and nano agents.  The Steampunk Bionic Man.

His right hand resembled every other person’s—large, perhaps, with broad palm and long fingers, but proportional to his height. His left hand and wrist were of the same size, yet they were human only in shape; the skeletal limb had been constructed of steel. The fluid movement as he spread his mechanical fingers was indistinguishable from the same movement in his right hand, and spoke to the intricacy of the design—the contraption wasn’t stiff, but responsive . . . and probably incredibly strong.

No, he didn’t carry any weapons. But from the guard’s perspective, the man’s hand was a weapon—and the man himself a danger to Castile.

Even one of his eyes was a prosthetic:

Oh! And that was not a monocle at all, but some sort of optical contraption that had been embedded into his temple, which shielded his left eye with a dark, reflective lens.

While David lives abiding by his father’s mantra of looking for the hope in all things, it is undeniable that people around him view him differently. Some with pity; some with disgust; and almost none with unfettered acceptance. David looks at others inability to accept him as their own flaws, but he also longs for intimacy. His two paid experiences were so distasteful for both parties involved that David has gone without rather than to see another women shy away from him in disgust.

The reclamation of self is a bit of a theme and one that is explored throughout.  David reclaiming his sexual identity; Annika figuring out that she is more than the timid day dreamer she had been characterized, and even the villain of the story looking to find redemption for his family name.

I’m trying to be as a vague as possible about some of the storyline because part of the beauty of reading a Brook’s book is to unwrap the package yourself.

He was quiet for a long moment. “I wish that I’d waited to fall in love, too.”

Her throat ached. “You can wait for it now.”

She felt his laugh against her hair, the shake of his head. This time, the kiss he pressed to her neck wasn’t openmouthed and hot, but soft and sweet.

“I’ll just wait for you,” he said.

This is such a beautifully rendered story about two people – (the timid Amish girl and the virginal Bionic Man) – and it is so completely different than previous Brooks’ books that I hope people who didn’t find The Iron Duke or Heart of Steel to their liking would at least try the first chapter in their book store. A

Best regards,


PS I mentioned on Twitter the Amish + Bionic Man and Meljean replied that it was totally fair to call David the 600 Livre man!



Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Brie
    Sep 03, 2012 @ 10:19:47

    This book was wonderful. I’m dying to talk about it but I feel like any discussion would mean spoiling the plot and I think it’s so important to be surprised by what the story has to offer, so I won’t say anything else except that I loved it and that I’m amazed by how different each book in the series is.

  2. Adina
    Sep 03, 2012 @ 11:11:48

    Loved The Iron Duke and the preceding novella but I just couldn’t get into Heart of Steel. I have high hopes for Riveted. Delighted that it’s getting good reviews :)

  3. hapax
    Sep 03, 2012 @ 11:56:15

    Huh. I’ve loved Brooks’ writing, her world is marvelously constructed, and the Iron Seas heroines were strong and smart and witty and true; but I hated both heros so much that I kept thinking that dropping them off the side of an airship into a pack of ravenous zombies would make for a *much* better HEA.

    I wasn’t going to try for a third strike, but this review leaves me so very tempted…

  4. CD
    Sep 03, 2012 @ 13:36:39

    “Virginal Bionic man”? Sign me up!! Reminds me of a Linnea Sinclair or Catherine Asaro hero…

  5. MarieC
    Sep 03, 2012 @ 14:11:58

    I’ve already pre-ordered this book, and after reading this and SBTB’s review, I can barely wait for midnight!

    I only hope that there isn’t a separate novella for the print only books; I’m still waiting for ‘Tethered’ to be release in ebook (this was found only in the print copies for ‘Heart of Steel’)

  6. Aliza_M
    Sep 03, 2012 @ 17:02:15

    I tweeted that of all the books releasing tomorrow, this is the one I was looking forward to the most. I love this series! And I think it’s torture that it’s releasing on a Tuesday, when I have to you know, go earn my living, instead of being able to stay home and read. Why do publishers do this? Whyyyyyy?

  7. Brian
    Sep 03, 2012 @ 17:06:38

    I only hope that there isn’t a separate novella for the print only books; I’m still waiting for ‘Tethered’ to be release in ebook (this was found only in the print copies for ‘Heart of Steel’)

    I’m getting real tired of publishers doing this (one author described it as a bonus since the print book costs more which is BS). If you’re not going to include the novella in the ebook (which often costs more than the street price of the print version) then please at least release it for purchase separately at the same time so we have the option of getting it if we want to.

  8. sarah Mayberry
    Sep 03, 2012 @ 17:24:56

    Yay! I love the Iron Seas books and this sounds fantastic. *off to press the buy button*

  9. Danielle
    Sep 03, 2012 @ 18:03:38


    I’m still waiting for ‘Tethered’ to be release in ebook (this was found only in the print copies for ‘Heart of Steel’

    Actually, Tethered was not incuded in my UK print copy of Heart Of Steel, either :-(

  10. Jenny Schwartz
    Sep 03, 2012 @ 19:05:56

    This review just makes me even happier that it’s releasing on kindle in Australia same time as anywhere else! No more waiting!

  11. SonomaLass
    Sep 03, 2012 @ 19:18:20

    I loved this book HARD. This is a favorite series of mine, and this may be my favorite installment so far.

    @Danielle: @MarieC: “Tethered” is scheduled to be released separately, since it was only in the mass market edition of Heart of Steel. “Mina Wentworth and the Invisible City” (the epilogue to The Iron Duke) has already been released as a separate ebook.

  12. JenniferH
    Sep 03, 2012 @ 21:52:25

    I really enjoyed the first two books in the series, and have just read one of the novellas, which as also a good read.
    I have reserved this book at my local library – luckily I am first on the list, so hopefully I won’t have to wait to long to read it. Sounds great from the review

  13. Kaetrin
    Sep 04, 2012 @ 00:21:20

    I’m waiting impatiently for this one to arrive from The Book Depository. It’s one series I like to get in print. So I can pet it.

  14. RIVETED is here!
    Sep 04, 2012 @ 02:03:00

    […] David and the airship engineer Annika might be my favorite entry in your Iron Seas series.” –Jane Litte, Dear Author “Riveted is the third book in Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas series, and easily my favorite of […]

  15. Sirius
    Sep 04, 2012 @ 09:54:35

    I am reading it now (maybe at about 20% of the story) and so far it is definitely my favourite entry in the series.

  16. Danielle
    Sep 04, 2012 @ 10:06:45

    @SonomaLass: Thank you, SonomaLass. It was only my sense of convenience that was disappointed, because I don’t enjoy reading books electronically. I have only bought one e-book this year (Ros Clarke’s latest)… But I think I may make an exception for Tethered, because Brook impressed me with Heart Of Steel even though the worldbuilding left me puzzled. I am about to start The Iron Duke, and if that one works for me – a big questionmark due to one of its much-discussed themes – I may have a new series to follow despite this genre being outside my comfort zone and despite my general aversion to series in any form.

  17. Dear Author Recommends for September 2012
    Sep 04, 2012 @ 10:50:16

    […] REVIEW: Riveted by Meljean Brook […]

  18. MarieC
    Sep 04, 2012 @ 14:54:50

    @SonomaLass: Thanks. I’d bought ‘Mina Wentworth…’ as a pre-order when it became available (and read it a couple times to get my ‘fix’ before ‘Riveted’).

    Truth be told, I didn’t even know that ‘Tethered’ was out there until I read it in Meljean’s website (oddly enough, answering questions about an ebook release).

  19. Carolyn
    Sep 04, 2012 @ 17:17:28

    @Danielle: After you finish “The Iron Duke”, you should read the novella “Mina Wentworth and the Invisible City”. It compliments “The Iron Duke” and gives insight into Rhys.

  20. Danielle
    Sep 04, 2012 @ 17:32:47

    @Carolyn: That sounds like wise advice. Thank you, I will do that :-)

  21. Review: Riveted by Meljean Brook | Smexy Books
    Sep 05, 2012 @ 10:31:12

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  22. cleo
    Sep 05, 2012 @ 11:03:19

    @Aliza_M: I know – how hard would it have been to release this at the beginning of a 3 day weekend, instead the day after? I pre-ordered this, and then, because I had too many deadlines yesterday, deliberately didn’t start it until yesterday afternoon, on my commute home (I even turned off my Nook at work so I wouldn’t be tempted to read “just one page” on a “quick break”).

    I’m about half way through and I’m loving it. It’s my favorite of the Iron Seas books so far – and probably tied with my favorite novellas. I love how the characters like each other as well as being attracted to, and extremely cautious of, each other. And I love Brook’s exploration of attitudes about homosexuality in various parts of the world – makes me impatient for Scarsdale’s story.

  23. Best of 2012 by Jane
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 11:05:12

    […] by Meljean Brook (Review here) – What Brook does with disability and otherness in her stories is unmatched.  Further, […]

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