Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas series is a rip roaring steampunk adventure filled with dastardly pirates, scary sea monsters, steamy romance, political intrigue, and devious adversaries. In her latest release, The Kraken King serial, Brook focuses on Zenobia Fox, the writer whose imaginative stories about her smuggling brother’s adventures have captured the public's attention. Each part in this serial is presented in the exact same way as Zenobia herself pens her stories. Only this time, Zenobia herself is the heroine.
Each installment reveals more of the circumstances that built the woman we see now. An abusive childhood, coupled with various kidnappings and unwanted advances from fortune hunters, has created a woman whose walls are so high and thick, we are unsure who exactly Zenobia Fox really is—a writer content to sit quietly on the sidelines, or an intelligent, intuitive woman who wants her own adventure?
[Finally, the heroine of her own story...]
One man who sees Zenobia is Ariq, The Kraken King. Named for his kraken like grip, Ariq governs a small town, the governance of which hides his much larger agenda. Ariq has his own secrets—he's a former rebel who left when the war stopped being about the people and more about the wants of those in charge, and he fears Zenobia has been sent to spy on him. As the serial progresses, Ariq learns that the woman he originally wanted in his bed surpasses anything he has ever imagined and now she is firmly embedded in his heart.
The serial style gives the Kraken King a soap opera-like appeal, and each installment leaves you wanting the next.
In part one, “The Kraken King and the Scribbling Spinster,” Meljean Brook sprinkles the present-day action with enough backstory so we can learn about the heroine Zenobia. Once Zenobia meets Ariq, the air practically bristles with their witty banter, but Zenobia has no time for an affair. While the attraction flairs between them instantly, social convention and a series of misunderstandings stops the romance before it starts.
Part Two, “The Kraken King and the Abominable Worm,” assures us that Zenobia is more like her brother, Archimedes Fox, then she herself believs. Caught up unawares in a political war that has been fought behind the scenes since the Horde invasion, Zenobia exchanges smoldering glances and sharp barbs with The Kraken King as they travel towards the Red City. Brook’s world building continues to expand, bringing sharp clarity to what exists beyond the small portion we had previously been introduced to. Dynamic characters and engaging dialogue keeps this serial clipping along at an engaging rate.
By Part Three, “The Kraken King and the Fox’s Den,” the storyline has developed significantly, adding enticing subplots that augment the main conflict. Detailed descriptions of the Smuggler’s Den and the people who rule each den offers us more clues towards discovering the villain(s)' ongoing agenda, while internal dialogue from the protagonists continue to push the romance along at a slow, but steady, pace.
Part Four, “The Kraken King and the Inevitable Abduction,” goes deeper into Ariq's and Zenobia’s developing feelings for one another. Brook uses some downtime to reveal a softer side to both our lovers as they navigate a minefield of lies, secrets, and half truths. Zenobia is still unsure of Ariq ,but as we learn, Ariq will not let her deny him anymore. The heat levels rise to scorching as Ariq seeks to prove once and for all that Zenobia is his and he will never let her go. We end with a shocking cliffhanger when Ariq's past comes knocking at his door.
In Part Five, “The Kraken King and the Iron Heart,” Ariq’s past is revealed, including his parentage and the truth behind his moniker. Bold actions offer an enchanting, if unusual, declaration that speaks volumes of thedepth of Ariq's feelings towards Zenobia. Action, suspense, and ingenuity leaves readers cheering as more facets of this dynamic duo are revealed.
Once again, the focus returns to the lovers in Part Six, “The Kraken King and the Crumbling Walls.” War is coming and there are those who are hellbent on dragging a reluctant Zenobia and Ariq into its path. Ariq and Zenobia are pressed for time as they must attempt to convince a nation and its Empress that the needs of a few are just as important as the needs of many. The reader is held in thrall as the conflict is fully dissected and all the players on Brook’s mobile chessboard are identified.
Whether it’s dark paranormal romance or rambunctious steampunk, Brook is an author who constantly delivers.