Book Review

The Return of DocTurtle!

Title: The Iron Duke
Author: Meljean Brook
Genre: Steampunk

Awhile back, in 2009, DocTurtle, a professor of mathematics, was a guest reviewer here as we schooled him on the best of romance. You can see the complete DocTurtle archive to see his serial reviews of An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer, Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase, and Sex Straight Up by Kathleen O'Riley. He didn't finish Dark Lover by JR Ward, but he gave it his best effort. Something about “tenure” and a “packet.” And things that were due. 

Every now and again, DocTurtle and I would exchange an email, but he was buried with work and reviewing was put on hiatus – until I received an email from him a few weeks ago, and he agreed to read and review another novel – though he did ask for not Dark Lover.

So here's DocTurtle, for those of you who haven't met him yet: 

Book Cover The other day I was walking past my colleague Corinne’s office and one of her students flagged me down with dirt he deemed too juicy to keep to himself: “Corinne [not her real name] has read all of the Twilight series!” Corinne then made just about every excuse in the book (“My friends made me do it…,” “They really got weak by the end of the third one…,” “it was a slow news week…,” etc.), turning redder with each line.

Twilight, schmilight,” I told her.  “You ain’t seen nothin’ if you’ve not read J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series.” As I unburdened myself, retelling the awfulness of that saga, I thought wistfully of my days reading and writing for the Smart Bitchery (yes, really!) and a tear rolled down my eye (not really). I thought to myself, “what a wonderful and welcoming community!  How lovely it was working with Sarah and her friends!  I really ought to see how they’re doing.”

I got back to my office and wrote to Sarah at once.  “How’s shakes?” or something like that.  We exchanged a few emails, and by the end I’d volunteered to take up the cause again, providing whatever perspective (outsider? male? mathematical?) I can on a title of Sarah’s choosing.

Her choosing: The Iron Duke, by Meljean Brook. From the back-cover blurb it looks chock-full of steampunkery: airships! cyborg-like body enhancements! London! A soundtrack by Thomas Dolby!  Okay, so I made the last one up, but wouldn’t that be cool?

For the next few weeks (I promise not to get behind, Sarah!) I’ll be your guide, providing a chapter-by-chapter account of my reading of The Iron Duke.  I hope you’ll consider reading along with me, even if you’ve read the book before, and sharing your insights with me as I share my own.  Please keep in mind that I can still count the romance novels I’ve read with both shoes on, so any slack you’d like to cut me is appreciated.

So fire up those dirigibles, and let’s take to the air!

Yay! As in the past, DocTurtle will send in chapter-by-chapter reviews as he reads and reviews, and I'll post them as they come in. I am betting he'll be as charmed by this book as he was by other books he read with us. 


Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    CarrieS says:


  2. 2
    Sally says:

    Welcome back, DocTurtle! I always wondered why you didn’t finish Dark Lover.

  3. 3
    Kael says:

    I literally did an arm waving flail when I read the entry title. DOC TURTLE! I’m so very excited and I can’t wait for the first chapter review.

  4. 4
    Rose says:

    Yay!!! Welcome back, DocTurtle!

    I’d love to read The Iron Duke along with you. Alas, it is geoblocked for my location, and I boycott such books even in their paperback form.

  5. 5
    Jenyfer says:

    Welcome back! I can’t wait to start reading your reviews – not only have your others been hilarious but I’ve never read this book :)

  6. 6

    Yay, I can’t wait to see DocTurtle’s mathematical male perspective. I’m curious how it will gel with a mathematical female perspective or if I’ll completely disagree with him.

  7. 7
    Kaetrin says:

    Welcome back Doc Turtle! We have missed you. Looking forward to your review. :)

  8. 8
    AngP says:

    Yay! Doc Turtle returning to the Bitchery?!! Today just keeps growing more awesome by the hour.

  9. 9

    Is it just me or does anyone else think “DocSavage”  when they see “DocTurtle”?  I imagine a brilliant mathematician with bronzed pecs reading hot romance.  I have no doubt the reality is exactly like that. 

    I eagerly await the good doc’s take on Iron Duke.

  10. 10

    Yay! I loved his reviews.

    I’ve never read BDB, but I refuse to believe it’s worse than Twilight. (I will believe “as bad as” based on his reviews, but it sounded like the author at least understood pacing.)

  11. 11
    Laura (in PA) says:

    Awesome news!

  12. 12
    Kristie Jenner says:

    Oh this will be fun.  I can hardly wait to start reading his thoughts.

  13. 13
    Karenmc says:

    Oh, Doc has returned AND another Milan Bookchat coming up – Sarah, you’re too good to us!

  14. 14
    Melinda Smith says:

    Hurrah! I’m thrilled. Doc Turtle + Iron Duke = win for all of us.

  15. 15
    MissB2U says:

    I’m not acquainted with Doc but any excuse to re-read “The Iron Duke” is most welcome.  Looking forward to his reviews as well as the Courtney Milan chat.  Leave it to SB Sarah to make the week back from break a little easier to bear!

  16. 16
    Hollygee says:

    I so want Doc to read a Crusie, a pre-collaborative effort of Crusie’s.

  17. 17

    Welcome Back, DocTurtle!

  18. 18
    remedios says:

    I was so sad that DocT never finished Dark Lover.  It was what first brought me to the bitchery.  Welcome Back!!

    I’ll admit, I’m a little scared.  I liked the Iron Duke mostly.  Still, I also enjoy snark so I’ll be reading the reviews.  Hope you like it!

  19. 19

    Oh happy day!  I *just* (like, it was on my porch when I left the house today) got my copy of The Iron Duke. Woohoo!

  20. 20
    AnnaPiranha says:

    I can’t wait to read his reviews!  I did notice, by the by, that the ebook is much more spendy for nook than at the penguin or amazon sites.

  21. 21
    delphia2000 says:

    I have Iron Duke on my physical TBR pile. Time to dig in I guess.

  22. 22
    MaddBookish says:



    Welcome back, Doc!

  23. 23

    I also have this one sitting on the nook…If DocTurtle would be kind enough to post a reading schedule I’d love to read right along with the good doctor.

    As a side note I also gave Dark Lover to a bookish friend and only today read her review of it…She was slightly more impressed than Doc Turtle, but not by much, lol. *Sigh* 7ft tall blind vampire kings encased in leather are not the type for everyone.

  24. 24
    Beggar1015 says:

    This is almost enough to make me want to try reading the Duke again. (Sorry, but I only got a few chapters in before giving up.) Still will eagerly read Doc T’s reports.

  25. 25
    Molly says:

    Me too. Fast Women in particular. I’m reading it now and am severely in love with Gabe.

  26. 26
    Malin Engdahl says:

    Yay! I love The Iron Duke and can’t wait to see what DocTurtle thinks of it.

  27. 27
    Judy in Houston says:

    This makes me SO happy!  I have kind of mixed feelings about The Iron Duke and I cannot wait to hear DocTurtle’s take on it.

  28. 28
    Vcp6582 says:

    Sounds like fun! :)
    His next book should be one of Courtney Milan’s first ones – he’ll get all the math jokes!

  29. 29
    kinseyholley says:

    Oh crap. I gotta hurry up and finish this before he gets to the end. I had to stop midway through because I found that it was leaking into the steampunk I’m writing – my hero is nothing like Rhys Trahaearn (OMG I LOVE THAT GUY) and every couple of pages I’d be like “Wha???? That doesn’t sound like you! That sounds like Rhys Trahaearn!” and then I’d be like “Dude, why aren’t you more like Rhys Trahaearn? Rhys is so much dreamier than you….” and then I’d be like, “Shit, I’ll never write like Meljean and her world is so much more badass than mine and I don’t even know why I’m doing this” and then I’d be crying in my chardonnay so eventually I had to quit reading The Iron Duke.

    But now I’m going to finish it.

  30. 30

    These sorts of boots draw close your way with the warranty that after you put them on

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