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Possible discussion questions:

1) What did you think of this short story? What rating would you give it?

2) If you read Kushiel's Dart, how do you think this fit in with the book?
If you did not read Kushiel's Dart, how did you feel about this book without knowing the characters and setting already?

3) We haven't read any romances that were strictly male/male in Bromance yet. How do you think this story held up to the stories with female/male pairings?

4) If you read Kushiel's Dart and You and You Alone with us, will you continue on to read the other Kushiel books?


The story opens with Estella, an older English woman living in India, having tea in hell with a demon. They are bargaining over the souls of 10 children who have died in an earthquake. Vasudev, the demon, particularly likes to take the souls of children, even if there is a more likely candidate for death nearby, so Estella was appointed the human ambassador to hell by Yama, the god of judgement. As a young woman, she followed her husband to hell after he died, in an attempt to get him back. Instead, she left with this job, and now must barter with Vasudev for the lives of children, choosing from among wicked people the souls that will take their place.

Vasudev offers her a deal - he will let her have not only the 10 children they are bargaining for, but all 22 of the children who were killed in the earthquake. In exchange, he will be allowed to place a curse on one child. Estella reluctantly agrees.

Pranjivan, who was saved by Estella as a baby and now spies for her and helps her choose the wicked who will die, is waiting when she emerges from hell. He takes her to a party being held for the christening of the baby she must curse, the third daughter of the British Political Agent in Jaipur. She goes up to the baby and curses her with the most beautiful voice ever heard, which will instantly kill anyone who hears it. The party guests do not believe her. Estella, who has some power of her own, leans down and whispers to the baby not to speak until she is old enough to understand the curse.

The girl grows older, never once uttering a sound. When she is old enough to understand the curse, Pranjivan convinces the servants of the truth of it. They believe him and the girl believes the servants. Vasudev is furious at this interference, and gleefully looks forward to the day when his curse can finally come to fruition.

A young soldier, James Dorsey, finds the diary of a young woman while on a train to Jaipur. He reads it, falling in love with its writer. He vows to find her, and he does when he is invited to the Political Agent's home. He hears the Agents daughter, Anamique, playing the piano. He watches her, and she feels as though he actually sees who she is when he looks at her. James returns her diary the next day, having it delivered to her at home. He includes a letter, telling her that she is in control of her own fate, and the two begin to exchange letters. James and Ana fall in love, and he keeps trying to convince her that curses aren't real, and not to let it control her life. Ana makes a vow to herself - if James proposes marriage, she will answer him, out loud.

James does decide to propose, at Ana's 18th birthday celebration. While on his way there, he is stopped by Pranjivan, who warns him that the curse is real. James doesn't believe him, but then he sees Estella. She steals his shadow, and James becomes less skeptical. When he reaches the party, he is handed a parcel. His shadow falls out and there is a note that says, "Believe."

James proposes, but as Ana is about to say yes, he kisses her, hard, in order to keep her from speaking. Ana then steps away and she opens her mouth and sings. Everyone at the party, all the servants, her beloved James, everyone within hearing distance is killed. Pranjivan's shadow, which he was using to spy, witnesses everything. His shadow carries Estella, who is now old and incredibly frail, into hell one last time. She tries to convince Vasudev (who is over the moon happy at how his curse turned out) to reverse the effects. He will not agree. Ana, however, has followed them there.

Estella has an idea. She convinces Ana to drink the potion she has that allows her to walk through the fires of hell, and to sing. Estella is killed instantly, and Pranjivan's shadow walks through the fires with her body. Ana follows, but Vasudev is completely entranced by her voice and can do nothing. She roams hell, searching for James, and finally finds him. Yama has been listening, and since he enjoys her voice, he allows everyone who was at the party to be brought back. She now has to take over Estella's job, though.

Ana marries James, and lives a happy life. She does her job well, since Vasudev becomes entranced by her voice whenever he hears it, and Pranjivan continues the job he did for Estella, though without his shadow.


1. Do you like the characters in this short? Who is your favorite?

2. Agreeing to Ana's curse in exchange for the lives of 22 children haunts Estella for years. Do you think she made the right choice?

3. Did you like the mythology and the setting?

4. How did you enjoy the art and story compared to the first story we read from the collection (Goblin Fruit)?

5. What would you rate this? Any other thoughts?

And as for reminders, voting is up, new selections will be announced on Friday, and next Wednesday, July 10, we'll be discussing You and You Alone by Jacqueline Carey in its entirety.

Regency voting

Voting time! The poll will be up today and tomorrow and I'll announce the new book selection on Friday :D

Poll #1922339 Regency Voting
This poll is closed.

Which book do you want to read next?

Emma by Jane Austen
Yours Until Dawn by Teresa Medeiros

Which short do you want to read for our bonus selection?

The Courtship by Grace Burrowes
What Really Happened in Peru by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan

And later today, I'll be putting up the full discussion for Spicy Little Curses Such as These.

Seconding reminder!

Just a reminder that seconding is up :D Today is the last day for seconding the books you want to read. We'll put up a poll for voting tomorrow.

Regency Seconds

Regency Seconds :D

Time for seconds!

Second any books that you're interested in reading. If you're not sure about a book, remember that you can always read the first few pages of any book on GoodReads, especially if the summary of any book is not very descriptive.

Nominations tracker

[List of Nominations]
Full Length

The Duke of Shadows
The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran

Emma by Jane Austen

The Heir (Duke's Obsession, #1) (Windham, #1)
The Heir by Grace Burrowes

A Lady Never Lies (Affairs by Moonlight, #1)
A Lady Never Lies by Juliana Gray

Mansfield Park
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Secrets of a Summer Night (Wallflowers, #1)
Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas

Yours Until Dawn
Yours Until Dawn by Theresa Medeiros


The Courtship (Windham #0.5)
The Courtship by Grace Burrowes

What Really Happened in Peru (The Bane Chronicles, #1)
What Really Happened in Peru by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan

Nominations reminder!

Hey folks! Just a friendly reminder that nominations are up! I'll be putting up the seconding post later today.

Also, katejaneway and I are thinking of offering extra seconds to those who participate in the full discussion, with a cap of two. You can use these in the seconding round to give an extra boost to a book you really want to read. What do you think?


Time for nominations! This round's genre is regency, so that means anything that was written in the regency era or that is set in the regency era. Please nominate up to two romance novels and one novella length selection (150 or less pages) for a bonus discussion.

To leave a link to Goodreads with the book cover: Find your book on goodreads. On the right sidebar, scroll down a little to the Share This Book section. Click "your website" and use the code under Med Img.

Here's a link to the regency romance category on Goodreads.
Feel free to poke around my historical romance shelf as well. They're not all regency but a seriously large chunk of them are :D

We'll start seconding Sunday evening, June 30.

The Iron Duke full discussion


Chapter twelve starts off with Rhys waking Mina in the middle of the night aboard the Lady Corsair, to reveal that Bushke's floating New Eden city is nearby. They killed the engines and all the lights aboard the ship to avoid detection by Bushke, as it is likely he'll annex the ship and crew to be a part of his city, if they are seen. Over this evening, Mina and Rhys talk and make up, are eventually together again but Mina is too scared to reach sexual completion due to it reminding her too much of the Horde Frenzy. We also find out that Rhys was a sex slave before he was captured by the English Navy, and that he had ripped out all of the piercings that had been placed on his person at that time. Newly made up, the two end up sharing a cabin for the duration of the journey.

Later the next day we learn that Rhys didn't know that he would not turn into a zombie, after he had been bitten before blowing up the tower. He revealed that he destroyed the tower because he was angry, and thought he would turn into a zombie. He doesn't know why the tower didn't affect him, either. Mina accuses Rhys of being a coward for being a Duke that didn't care about people that weren't his responsibility, for not doing more when he had the power to.

Soon the crew arrives at the Ivory Market to find it burning. Soon they reach Colbert and find him hastily escaping the city. Colbert reveals that he sold the device to the Black Watch, and that Bushke (of New Eden) and his family had been bidding on it, but the Black Watch far outbid anyone else. When Bushke lost, he launched fireballs on the Ivory Market in anger. It also is revealed that the Terror and Hunt are headed south with zombies on board and the doomsday device is integrated into a ship, the Endeavor, which is currently headed for England. Rhys, Scarsdale and Mina lock Colbert into a cage in his auction house, before going back to the Lady Corsair to pursue the Terror.

Back aboard the Lady Corsair, Mina and Rhys finally sleep together for the first time, and a few days later they find Marco's Terror. It turns out that the ship and the airship, Josephine, are abandoned. It is surmised that one of the zombies on board escaped and the crew hid in a sealed chamber below deck. Rhys and Scarsdale board the ship, kill the zombies and find Hunt, half-turned, in the captain's quarters. Scarsdale quickly does away with Hunt, and they go below deck to free the crew.

Too late, Mina and Rhys realize that a mutated armor-plated kraken is hiding in the shadow of the Josephine, and before they can leave the kraken wraps Marco's Terror in a tentacle. The ship is about the capsize, and there is not a lot to be done, so Mina swings on a rope of the Lady Corsair and shoots the kraken in the eye with a harpoon, forcing it to retreat.

Mina is reunited with her little brother, Andrew, and Rhys and Scarsdale take charge of the Terror, with Rhys as her captain. Mina listens to some recordings that Haynes had made before he died, and finds out that Admiral Burnett had been a member of the Black Watch, and had wanted to buy the device to kill all buggers in England. Admiral Burnett is sailing north with his fleet and the Endeavor, and the Terror sets off after towards the fleet.

Rhys and Mina don't have a lot of time to themselves on the journey, but sleep together and talk every chance they get. Mina comes to realize just how busy a captain is, and how capable Rhys is.

Once the Terror arrives at the fleet, all the Terror's officers dress as naval officers, and flags are raised to signal to the fleet their hopefully obviously peaceful presence there.

Captain Seymore is sent by the fleet to speak with the Terror, where he soon finds out that Burnett is a member if the Black Watch. Before
anyone has a chance to react, Burnett's flag ship starts to go into battle formation, to fire on the Terror. The Terror maneuvers and takes Burnett's ship out, the Admiral with it.

Endeavor, with its weapons on board, moves to attack the Terror. Since Captain Seymore knows of Burnett's plans, he and the rest of the fleet then help to take the Endeavor out. The ship sinks, and the weapon with it.

When all is safe, and they begin to head home to England, Rhys tells Mina that he wants more time with her. She tells him they can never be together, due to how she looks, that the news sheets would never give them a break. Rhys then resolves to improve the world for Mina, and decides to send her away until he can fix the world.

Mina moves up to the Lady Corsair, while Rhys stays on the Terror, and both set back for England. We follow Mina with the Lady back Venice to pick up Fox. Fox does not appear at the set time, but eventually climbs aboard, close to complete exhaustion, and orders Yasmeen at gunpoint to go back to the Ivory Market. She refuses and throws him over board. They then go to London.

Upon arriving in London, they find that the Terror is already there and docked, but that parts of the city are in fire. It turns out that when Rhys landed, he and the crew were arrested by Admiral Dorchester, who turns out to be another member of the Watch. They eventually escape and chain Dorchester. Mina and Newberry show up to help. Mina is shot trying to save Rhys and almost dies, but her mother Jerry-rigs a mechanical replacement heart and saves her.

Three months later, after not seeing each other, Rhys and Mina run into each other in London. They have sex, make up and decide to marry.

The end.


1. What rating would you give the book, on a scale of 1 to 5?

2. There have been a lot of opinions about Rhys and his behavior, on GoodReads and elsewhere. What did you think of him, and how he compared to the alpha male trope?

3. Who was your favorite character overall?

4. Do you think the book did the steam punk genre justice?

5. Will you read on in the series?

Thanks for reading with us! Next Wednesday, July 3rd we'll be discussing Spicy Little Curses by Laini Taylor.

Discussion: The Iron Duke chapters 7-11

The Lady Corsair reaches Calais and Dame Sawtooth's fort, and they see the Navy in the waters below, heading in the same direction. Trahaearn knows they will get there first, but they hurry nonetheless. Trahaearn, Mina, and Newberry descend into the fort, and make their way through the underground tunnels. They see the dead bodies of the Dame's crew, dead from bug fever. They continue on and find 8 of the hostages from Marco's Terror. Trahaearn breaks down the door to their cell, and Newberry leads them to the Corsair while Mina and Trahaearn try to find the Dame ad her companion, Evans. They eventually find them, and the Dame is sick, dying of bug fever like her crew. Evans explains what happened to them and the Terror. They were testing a weapon that affects the nanoagents, watching from the Terror. It killed Haynes and gave just about everyone else bug fever. Mina has nearly convinced Evans to bring the Dame in to get medical treatment when the Navy begins to firebomb the fort. Evans escapes with the Dame in one of his harvesters. Mina and Trahaearn run after him, and escape just outside the fort, in the zombie infested woods. They run to the Corsair, and barely make it. Trahaearn has to drop his weapons in order to jump onto the platform to get on the airship, and Mina shoots two zombies who are chasing him, saving his life.

When they return to London, Mina faces backlash from the Duke of Dorchester for disregarding orders and letting the Dame and Evans escape. Her superiors, however, support her, though they have to lie about how much she was involved and how in order to make it look as though she and Trahaearn were cooperating with and helping the Navy the entire time. They leave and Trahaearn, along with Scarsdale, escorts Mina home. On the way, they see a group of children being attacked by a ratcatcher, one of the Horde's modified animals. Mina rushes in to help, and Trahaearn eventually kills it. Scarsdale has run ahead to Mina's home with a child who was seriously injured. Trahaearn once again propositions her, and he is once again turned down. Mina is concerned for her reputation, her job, and her family.

When they make it back to Mina's house, Trahaearn goes in with her, hoping his presence will make it easier for Mina to tell her parents that her brother, Andrew, wasn't among those they found at Calais. Later, he tells Mina that he will go find her brother, and take her with him, if she agrees to sleep with him. Though she hates it, she gives in and agrees. She is saved from this, though, when Scarsdale points out that Trahaearn is being too agressive and he needs to try a different approach. He instead uses his power to be appointed head of the investigation into the weapon, and chooses Mina as one of the other people to investigate.

Trahaearn, Mina, and Scarsdale board the Lady Corsair once again, which will take them to the Ivory Coast, and, hopefully, to the Terror, Andrew, and the weapon they are searching for. ALso aboard the airship is the famous adventurer, Archimedes Fox, who tells them a story about the Black Guard, and their interest in the nano agents that the Horde used to control everyone. The member of the organization that he met was particularly interested in certain things that happened during Horde controlled frenzies (incest, bestiality, experiments of some sort), and he was picking up a package containing a strain of the plague that killed off much of the Horde, one that could killed those infected with nano agents as well. Fox and his partner killed the man and destroyed the plague sample.

At this point both Mina and Trahaern are drunk. They end up in her cabin, and Trahaearn decides that he absolutely must taste her, which he does even after she tells him no. After, she shoots him with an opium dart and leaves him passed out on the floor of her cabin while she goes to sleep in his. Trahaearn apologizes for his behavior the next day. Later, Mina finds out that shortly before he destroyed the Horde control tower, he had been bitten by a zombie, though he clearly wasn't infected since he is still alive and well

[Discussion Questions]
Discussion Questions
1. How do you feel about the way Mina and Trahaearn's relationship is developing?

2. Do you have any ideas about what the Black Guard might be planning?

3. Mina faces a lot of abuses because of her background. How do you think she handled the caricatures in the new and gossip sheets? Do you think that, considering how much of the public sees her, Trahaearn would truly be able to protect her and offer her the freedom she desires as he says he will?

4. How do you feel about the secondary characters in this section?

5. Do you have any ideas about why Trahaearn wasn't infect when he was bt by a zombie, or why the Horde control signal didn't affect him when he got close to the tower?

Next Wednesday, June 26, we'll be finishing up The Iron Duke with our discussion of chapters 12 through 18.

Discussion: The Iron Duke chapters 1-6

Hey! Sorry about the extreme lateness of the post, but here it finally is :D


The story opens with Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth at a ball, where she is interrupted to investigate a murder. A body was dropped from an airship onto the grounds of Rhys Trahaearn, the Iron Duke, the name who saved England from the control of the Horde. When Mina and her constable, Newberry, reach the Duke's home, it's very clear that he doesn't want her there, though she isn't sure if it's because of her occupation or the Horde blood that runs through her veins.

They are unable to identify the body because of the damage from the fall. The body was frozen, but has no other wounds, and his left arm is made of mechanical flesh. Mina questions the duke and learns that his steward called them there, and Trahaearn likely would have just dealt with it on his own. After Mina leaves, the duke's friend tells him the story of Mina's conception and birth. She was conceived during a Horde controlled Frenzy and when Mina was born and her mother saw that she was part Horde, she gouged out her own eyes.

After Mina and Newberry examine the body, they decide that they need to take the man's arm and brain to the Blacksmith to see if he can help identify him. When they get there, Trahaearn is already there, waiting for them. He apologizes to Mina for a comment he made the night before and then proceeds to try to talk his way into her bed. She turns him down.

They proceed into the workshop, where Mina talks to a young tinker girl who also has Horde blood. She lets the girl know where to find her if she ever needs help.

Mina and the duke get into a lift together, and the duke makes his previous offer again. He tells Mina that he can offer her enough money to go wherever she likes. She turns him down again.

When the Blacksmith examines thearm and brain, he sees that the nanoagents are completely inert, though they should still have some residual activity. He is also able to identify the body - Roger Haynes, captain of Marco's Terror (Trahaearn's former ship, and the hsip that Mina's brother is serving on).

Mina, Trahaearn , and Newberry head out to talk to Haynes' grandfather, Admiral Baxter, to find out where the Terror was supposed to have been. When they tell the admiral, he is not surprised - he had received a list of hostages and his grandson's name wasn't on it. Neither was Mina's brother.

They decided to go to Calais to question an old emeny of the duke's, Dame Sawtooth. As they get ready to leave, they hear a gunshot. They find the Admiral dead, and Trahaearn chases the shooter with only a dagger as a weapon. He catches up to him, but the shooter kills himself rather than be captured. Trahaearn was shot as well, and Mina sees that his skull is gray, like iron.

They charter an airship to Calais to question the Dame. On the way, Mina learns that the Dame has been trying to kill Trahaearn for nearly a decade, because he led a mutiny on the ship that her lover captained.


1. How do you feel about the main characters?

2. Do you like the world the author has created?

3. Most of the people who come to London now willingly infect themselves with the nanoagents that were once used to control the population in order to fight of illness and disease. Do you think that it's worth it, or that the nanoagents could possibly be used against them again?

4. Considering the events of Mina's conceptions and her mother's reaction when she was born, how realistic do you think her relationship with her parents is?

5. What do you think of the protectiveness that both Newberry and the Duke show towards Mina?

We'll be discussing chapters 7-11 next Wednesday, June 19.

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