Thursday, December 8, 2011

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Steampunk Romance Watch: December 2011


It’s steampunk romance watch time! These are posts where I cover what’s happening in the steampunk romance genre. My last one was in November 2010, so this one is long overdue.

Quite a few releases came out recently and more are on the horizon. For this segment, I decided to focus on steampunk romance releases I haven’t already blogged about or covered, which means all except one of the titles below were released in the latter half of 2011 (for a complete list of steampunk romance titles from this year, see my 2011 Science Fiction Romance New Release Roundup). I also included commentary/tags with some of the titles.

Whether you’re traveling by airship, steam carriage, or clockwork horse, there’s sure to be a steampunk romance—or three—that you’ll enjoy in this batch.

Steampunk romance anthologies

First up are two hot-off-the-press steampunk romance anthologies.

A CLOCKWORK CHRISTMAS (edited by Angela James, December 2011) is a holiday steampunk anthology from Carina Press:

Changed forever after tragedy, a woman must draw strength from her husband's love. A man learns that love isn't always what you expect. A thief steals the heart of a vengeful professor. And an American inventor finds love Down Under. Enjoy Victorian Christmas with a clockwork twist in these four steampunk novellas.

A CLOCKWORK CHIRSTMAS includes the following stories (they can also be purchased individually):

Crime Wave in a Corset by Stacy Gail

Roderick Coddington is on a mission to make Cornelia Peabody pay. After identifying her as the thief who stole a priceless Fabergé egg from his dying sister, he finds her and shackles a deadly timepiece to her arm. If she doesn't return the egg by Christmas morning, she will die.

Normally seven days is more than enough time for Cornelia to carry out the perfect crime, but Roderick's intrusion into her life is beyond distracting. He challenges her mind, and ignites her body with desire she's never felt before. But worst of all, he threatens the independence she values above all else...

As Roderick spends time with Cornelia, he realizes there's a lonely soul hidden beneath her beautiful but criminal veneer. Falling for a thief wasn't part of Roderick's plan, but plans can change and he has no intention of letting another priceless treasure get away from him.

Read the excerpt.

This Winter Heart by PG Forte

Eight years ago, Ophelia Leonides's husband cast her off when he discovered she was not the woman he thought she was. Now destitute after the death of her father, Ophelia is forced to turn to Dario for help raising the child she never told him about.

Dario is furious that Ophelia has returned, and refuses to believe Arthur is his son—after all, he thought his wife was barren. But to avoid gossip, he agrees to let them spend the holidays at his villa. While he cannot resist the desire he still feels for Ophelia, Dario despises himself for being hopelessly in love with a woman who can never love him back.

But Dario is wrong: Ophelia's emotions are all too human, and she was brokenhearted when he rejected her. Unsure if she can trust the man she desperately loves, she fears for her life, her freedom and her son if anyone else learns of her true nature...

Read the excerpt.

Wanted: One Scoundrel by Jenny Schwartz

All suffragette Esme Smith wants is a man. A scoundrel to be precise. Someone who can be persuaded to represent her political views at men-only clubs. As the daughter of the richest man in Australia, Esme can afford to make it worth the right man's while.

Fresh off the boat, American inventor Jed Reeve is intrigued by Esme's proposal, but even more interested in the beauty herself. Amused that she takes him for a man who lives by his wits, he accepts the job—made easier by the fact that he already shares her ideals. Soon, he finds himself caught up in political intrigue, kidnapping and blackmail, and trying to convince his employer he's more than just a scoundrel...

Read the excerpt.


Far From Broken by JK Coi

Soldier. Spymaster. Husband.

Colonel Jasper Carlisle was defined by his work until he met his wife. When the prima ballerina swept into his life with her affection, bright laughter and graceful movements, he knew that she was the reason for his existence, and that their love would be forever.

But their world is shattered when Callie is kidnapped and brutally tortured by the foes Jasper has been hunting. Mechanical parts have replaced her legs, her hand, her eye...and possibly her heart. Though she survived, her anger at Jasper consumes her, while Jasper's guilt drives him from the woman he loves. He longs for the chance to show her their love can withstand anything...including her new clockwork parts.
As the holiday season approaches, Jasper realizes he must fight not just for his wife's love and forgiveness...but also her life, as his enemy once again attempts to tear them apart.


If you like your steampunk a bit, uh, steamier, check out STEAMLUST (edited by Kristina Wright, October 2011), an erotic steampunk romance anthology from Cleis Press:

Steampunk erotic romance is shiny brass and crushed velvet, mechanical inventions and romantic conventions, sexual fantasy and kinky fetish. This unique collection includes tales of adventure and intrigue, enhanced by imaginative gadgets and clever automatons, populated by the passionate, free-spirited rebels and dreamers steampunk is known for. In Nikki Magennis's "Make Your Own Miracles," a lust-filled lady orders a machine to relieve the agony of her longing; while a brilliant inventor and a wanton engineer collaborate with ecstatic results in Saskia Walker's "Hearts of the Daedalus." In Lynn Townsend's "Golden Moment," an invention leads the heroine to exactly the right lover at precisely the right time. And the time bandits of Vida Bailey's "Undergrounded" indulge their desires, just one step ahead of the law. Tantalizing steam engine dreams and clockwork visions await!

You can watch the Steamlust trailer at Youtube. It’s a little long, and the words sometimes obscure the images, but I can never resist the call of stop-motion animation.

Steampunk romance books/ebooks

HEART OF STEEL – Meljean Brook

This is book two of the author’s The Iron Seas series. Here’s the blurb:

As the mercenary captain of the Lady Corsair, Yasmeen has learned to keep her heart as cold as steel, her only loyalty bound to her ship and her crew. So when a man who once tried to seize her airship returns from the dead, Yasmeen will be damned if she gives him another opportunity to take control.

Treasure-hunter Archimedes Fox isn’t interested in the Lady Corsair — he wants her coldhearted captain and the valuable da Vinci sketch she stole from him. To reclaim it, Archimedes is determined to seduce the stubborn woman who once tossed him to a ravenous pack of zombies, but she’s no easy conquest.

When da Vinci’s sketch attracts a dangerous amount of attention, Yasmeen and Archimedes journey to Horde-occupied Morocco — and straight into their enemy’s hands. But as they fight to save themselves and a city on the brink of rebellion, the greatest peril Yasmeen faces is from the man who seeks to melt her icy heart…


My commentary:

If worldbuilding is your thing, then this series delivers. For what it’s worth, I’ve seen HEART OF STEEL tagged as romantic steampunk fantasy and heavy on the external plot.

“The Blushing Bounder” from the WILD AND STEAMY anthology – Meljean Brook

Story blurb:

While the search for a killer puts Constable Newberry’s life in danger, he faces a danger of another kind: to his heart, by the woman forced to marry him. What will it take for this prudish bounder to convince his wife to stay?

FAR TOO HUMAN - Anitra Lynn McLeod 

Jonathan P. Quiverbotton freely admits he is fussy, punctual…and terribly lonely. All his attempts to build a companion have failed miserably. Desperate, he rents a man-of-all-work bot from a local factory, intent on uncovering its secrets.

When the manbot arrives, though, it bears a stunningly familiar face. The face of a notorious con man—with whom Jonathan once had a fleeting assignation.

Marcus isn't quite certain why this doorstep seems so familiar, but once he lays eyes on Jonathan, memories flood back so strong only one thing matters. To convince Jonathan that he's a changed man.

Raw sexual passion quickly forges a deep emotional bond, fueled by the knowledge that Marcus must soon return to the factory. Before their time ticks down, another man emerges from Marcus's murky past, reminding him of his unfulfilled part in a blackmail scheme.

Marcus wants no part of his old life, but refusal not only exposes Jonathan to danger, it puts him at the mercy of those who would use his illegal enhancements at the cost of his humanity.


My commentary:

If there’s one element guaranteed to compel me to read a steampunk romance, it’s automatons in key roles. Based on the “manbot” in the blurb, I bought and read this story as soon as I discovered it.

The blurb also mentions “illegal enhancements” which itself is a clue that the manbot in question is more man than machine. Having read the story, I would characterize Marcus as a steampunk cyborg rather than an automaton.

FAR TOO HUMAN is an erotic m/m steampunk romance, heavy on the erotic. The story tone struck me as playful. I wish the external plot had been meatier since there were hints of a complex world. However, the romance aspect is strong and there’s a palpable chemistry between the heroes.

In general, it seems like steampunk romance is trending toward cyborg heroes and heroines (e.g, Meljean Brook’s THE IRON DUKE; Sylvia Day’s “Iron Hard;” JK Coi’s FAR FROM BROKEN), which is fun.

STARLANDER’S MYTH – Melisse Aires

A steampunk spacewestern romance in the Starlander Frontier series.

Asteroid miner Jack Starlander stumbles upon the illegal sale of a woman and child with unusual abilities. In the ensuing shoot out, two important men die. Jack, Sophie and her daughter, along with Jack's close neighbors, are forced to flee to safety. Their journey takes them into deadly danger. Sophie is a creature from myth and she recognizes the mythic thread in Starlander's family legend. Perhaps his family legend can save them.



My commentary:

This is an erotic steampunk romance, but on the “sweet” heat level side (especially as the story progresses). I’ve read STARLANDER’S MYTH, so look for my post about it later this month. I will say this about it, though: It’s one of the few (if not the only) steampunk romances featuring steampunk space ships. Boo-yah!

THE HUNTER – Theresa Meyers

Colt Jackson has gotten his name on many a wanted poster with success in the family business: hunting supernaturals across the frontier. Lately, though, there's a sulfur stink in the wind and the Darkin population is exploding. A rift in the worlds is appearing. To close it, Colt will have to do the unthinkable and work with a demon to pass arcane boundaries no human alone can cross.

Except when he summons his demon, he doesn't get some horned monstrosity: he gets a curvy redheaded succubus named Lilly, who's willing to make a bargain to become human again. He also gets Lilly's secret expertise on the machinations on the dark side of the rift. And her charm and cleverness help to get them out of what his silver-loaded pistol and mechanical horse can't. Of course, when all hell breaks loose, he might have to sacrifice his soul. But what's adventure without a little risk?

My commentary:

This is book one of the author’s The Legend Chronicles. From what I’ve gleamed about THE HUNTER, it’s a paranormal-western-steampunk romance mashup. In addition to the succubi heroine, there are also vampires.

MISS MINNIE AND THE BRASS PLUGIT (January) – Sahara Kelly

He isn’t made of brass…but that won’t stop him from steaming up her nights.

Flouting convention and raising eyebrows from aristocratic drawing rooms to Whitehall, Lady Minnie Dalrymple takes men to her bed as she pleases. She doesn’t do favors outside the boudoir, particularly for politically powerful men whose motives are rarely pure. Yet when her lover asks her to visit the mysterious Dr. Pierce Lowell, she’s intrigued. Why should she be asked to essentially spy on the reclusive scientist?
Pierce has several projects under development, none of which he cares to share with the public. The arrival of any unexpected guest rouses suspicion, but the wealthier-than-God, eccentric young widow certainly isn’t threatening…not to his experiments, anyway. To his heart? That’s another matter entirely.
Their lighthearted, mutual exploration is interrupted by the discovery of a woman’s body found strangled just offshore. When Minnie learns this is the fourth such crime, it isn’t difficult to convince Pierce that working at his side to uncover the plot is the safest place to be. Until she is kidnapped. To save the woman he has come to love, Pierce must call on every ounce of ingenuity and brilliance—and reveal his most closely guarded secret.

Forthcoming titles

THE IRON HEART (February 7, 2012, (Samhain Publishing) – Leslie Dicken

His greatest creation could be the death of them both.

One woman swears to avenge the savagery of a ruthless killer loose on the streets of Lundun; if only she can stay one step ahead of an inventor who fears that his greatest work, a labor of love, has turned on humanity.

Grieving the loss of her beloved cousin, Ella Wilder is determined to catch the murderer. Infuriated by the fumblings of the constable, she seeks the assistance of a handsome noble who seems to be looking for his own answers, and whose reluctance tells her he has something to hide. Over time, hesitant intimacy grows into fiery passion but brings them no closer to finding the madman.

As the killer reveals darker inventions that blur the boundary between man and machine, Ella fights the fear he may be after her next. Can Ella trust her heart to the man who refuses to share his secrets yet swears to protect her? Will Bennett be able to choose between keeping terrifying family secrets…or losing Ella to the iron-hearted killer who stalks the night? 

My commentary:

One thing we know for sure: “iron” is becoming the new buzz word for steampunk romance titles!

THE WATCHMAKER’S LADY (Spring 2012, Red Sage Publishing) – Heather Massey (in the interest of full disclosure, that’s me!)

Here’s a treat: the (unofficial) story blurb:

Matthew Goddard is a lonely watchmaker in 1840 New England. One fateful day, he discovers the lover of his dreams in a dusty corner of the local general store—Isabel, a bisque porcelain mannequin head with mesmerizing, smoky blue eyes. When Matthew invites her to come live with him, she eagerly “accepts.”

The couple embarks on a lust-filled affair, one fueled by Matthew’s wild imagination. In order to provide Isabel with a brass body and pretty clothes, he begins a secret side business selling clockwork sex toys to his wealthy female customers.

Danger, however, threatens their idyllic romance when a disgruntled customer exposes Matthew’s forbidden business to the townspeople. Despite the growing menace, Matthew will stop at nothing in order to save his soul mate—and protect their love.

My commentary:

If you like unconventional heroines, Pygmalion themes, and surprise twists, then THE WATCHMAKER’S LADY is for you. For more information, see my announcement post here.

UNDER HER BRASS CORSET (February 2012, Carina Press) - Brenda Williamson

I couldn’t find a blurb, but the author posted the following information at harlequinfilms:

Under Her Brass Corset is a victorian-pirate-fantasy-steampunk story about Abigail Thatch and her quest to find her great-grandfather, Blackbeard's treasure to pay the mortage on her house in England. Her adventure becomes an eye opening experience when she meets Captain Jasper Blackthorn and learns myths and legends with trolls and fairies are more real than she ever imagined, and the magic of snowglobe holds the secrets of immortality.


My commentary:

Mmmmm…Victorian pirates!

[Edited to add]

This just in: Robert Appleton reported in the comment section that his book PREHISTORIC CLOCK, "a steampunk adventure w/ romantic elements," will be released by Carina Press in February 2012. Here's the blurb:


Airship officer Verity Champlain is well-respected by her crew. But after a vital mission nearly goes wrong, she is having second thoughts about her career.

Lord Garrett Embrey is on the run. The Leviacrum Council, the secretive scientific body that holds sway over the Empire, executed his father and uncle and now they want him dead too.

Professor Cecil Reardon is consumed by grief. Since his wife and son died he's been obsessed with his work, and now he is on the verge of an extraordinary scientific breakthrough: his machine is about to breach time itself, to undo fate's cruel taking of his loved ones.

But the time jump doesn't go according to plan, and part of London winds up millions of years in the past. Verity and her crew—Lord Embrey, Professor Reardon and others stranded with them—must pull together to survive in a world ruled by dinosaurs...and to somehow get home.

My commentary:

Time machines, airships, and dinosaurs, oh my!

In the works

KT Grant (“Brass Balls and Hysteria”) blogged about how she’s been working on a new steampunk romance (you can read my interview with her here).

And there you have it: Steampunk romance is alive and well!

Authors, if you’ll have a steampunk romance title that will be out in 2012, please let us know in the comments!

Joyfully yours,

Heather