Clockwork Pirate by Lyn Gala

Clockwork Pirate by Lyn Gala
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Steampunk, Historical, Action/Adventure
Length: Full Length (308 pages)
Other: M/M, Frottage
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Lilac

Alex hid his unnatural attraction to men for many years. That changes when the pirate Beche takes Alex after capturing his ship. At first Alex believes his fate is death and the only question a matter of how he might die. However, the longer he is on the ship, the more he realizes that Beche hates the world because it is unfair in ways Alex never understood. As Alex begins to respect this strong, independent man, Alex’s dormant desires begin to reassert themselves.

Beche hates the titled classes and their government enforcers. They might have outlawed slavery on paper, but they never came to the islands to free him or his family. Since his skin is black, society has little respect for him. Beche expects no more of this latest captive, but soon Beche begins to realize that Alex is a naïve and beautiful man who values family and struggles with his own place in society. That poses an even larger problem because Beche does not want to send Alex back to a world that will mistreat him, but he has no place for a lord on a ship full of pirates.

A young lordling on a trading voyage gets captured by pirates and learns that sometimes pirates can be more dangerous and yet more honorable than the so-called civilized nobility.

This is a captivating tale. It took me in directions I hadn’t anticipated. If you’re looking for a simple sex romp between a nobleman and a pirate, you’re looking in the wrong place. If you want a fascinating steampunk pirate story that challenges the way you think, then you’ve struck gold.

First of all, there’s the characterization. Alex has a curious duality about him, shy and quiet one moment, strong and opinionated the next. His father did horrible things to him when he learned of Alex’s homosexual tendencies, and the doctors involved told him terrible outright lies. As a result, he has no idea how to deal with his mixed feelings about Beche, the leader of the pirates. For him, learning about his true self and evolving his relationship with Beche are inextricably linked. Alex learns more about bravery in a short period of time than most men do in their entire lives.

Beche, on the other hand, is a former slave who endured heinous brutalities at the hands of his… shall we say, master. I’ll let you figure out another word for that evil man. With the help of other slaves and a guard, he freed himself. But for a black man with scars on his face he wasn’t exactly swamped with alternative lifestyle choices or employment. What’s most intriguing about him are his beliefs concerning Alex, whom he sees as a gentler soul than is natural for a man. In essence, Beche thinks Alex has the soul of a woman in a man’s body, which is how he explains his own attraction to the defiant lordling. Heady stuff.

At first the plot moves slowly as Alex gets used to his new life on board the pirate ship. In fact, the majority of this book is filled with dialogue and long conversations about the nature of human beings, sexuality, sexual identity, ethics, morality, honor, law, truth, lies—everything under the sun. It raises a simple tale of a lordling and a pirate meeting into an almost social narrative, giving this tale great depth and this alternate steampunk historical world context and foundation. Sure, at times the words these people used seemed too civilized and educated to fit their roles and lives in those times. There was even the word “online” embedded there once, but it was a minor oversight.

As far as the sex goes, this rates mainly as sweet romance rather than full on erotic. There’s only a couple of sex scenes, and there’s no anal sex or penetration whatsoever. For such a long story I admit I was expecting the sensual content to be greater. Most of the tale is full of action and adventure when Beche is caught by soldiers, taken to a fort, and has to be rescued with the collaboration and help of the pirates and Alex’s warrior-like sister, Philla, and his inventor sister, Aster. The other main side characters, Fabrice and Manuel, offer true insight into hard men who’ve lived through horrors but still retained their humanity by forming a bond as brothers and maintaining a dry sense of humor about the world.

All in all, this story has a lot of offer. The steampunk element isn’t as overpowering as it might, focusing on steam tech inventions more than the subculture of it, but in my opinion this is still a steampunk story with airships and Tesla gaslights. While I would have personally wished for more sensuality in Beche and Alex’s relationship, it was the slow-building of their trust and respect for one another that made the book so strong. While this tale finishes with a somewhat open-ended conclusion, I can foresee a happy future ahead for our heroes. I recommend this to all lovers of intricate slow-built stories with great depth, plenty of delicious, multilayered dialogue, and lots of action.

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