Combustion by Elia Winters


Combustion by Elia Winters
Publisher: Samhain
Genre: Steampunk, Historical, Alternate Reality
Length: Full (218 pages)
Other: M/F, F/F, Multiple Partners, Masturbation, Anal Play, Toys
Rating: 4 stars
Review by: Xeranthemum

A war orphan, Astrid Bailey is content living her adult life alone, working as a contract machinist. Her real passion, though, is inventing felicitation devices that promote women’s sexual empowerment and help them find pleasure independent of a man.

The upcoming World’s Fair, with its substantial cash prize, is an opportunity to open the shop she’s always imagined and hopefully solve her financial woes. Except the committee has denied her entry unless she obtains a “sponsor”. Astrid suspects they mean “male”.

Eli Rutledge, noted watchmaker, knows entering the fair will solidify his reputation as an innovator —but he’s fresh out of ideas. Until Astrid approaches him with her outrageous product line. With no other options, though, he agrees to lend her his good name.

As construction heats up, so does their chemistry—and the complications. Astrid is unaccustomed to asking for help, much less sharing credit. And Eli fights an attraction that could spell professional disaster. As the Fair date approaches, Astrid and Eli must decide how far they’ll go. For the business…and for each other.

Product Warnings Contains period-appropriate graphic language, highly inappropriate amounts of M/F and F/F sex, and copious amounts of *ahem* product testing. May *ahem again* “spark” an online shopping binge for *cough* toys. Of the adult variety.

It was known as ‘female hysteria’ until 1952 and what the medical establishment concocted to deal with the issue prompted the emergence of vibrators. I really enjoyed Ms. Winters’ take on ‘what if’. What if women were allowed to create the very items that in reality were male dominated for centuries? I liked Ms. Winters’ steampunk world of an alternate course in London’s history and thrilled to the heroine’s exploration of how it would work when creating an intimate aide with the assistance of a sexy male partner. I expected sparks and found fireworks.

For those readers who aren’t into F/F encounters, I’ll give kudos to the author for some tastefully done scenes. The short seduction of a secondary character was very sensual. Its power comes from the almost clinical way the heroine goes about it. It made the guilty pleasure that much more titillating. There’s one other encounter and it’s integral to the plot conflict and movement.

Eli and Astrid were two characters that worked well together in all aspects of their relationship. They were yin-yang; he’s proper yet she’s wild, he’s hiding but she’s confident, he’s stagnant and she’s progressive. Even though they come from different parts of the social spectrum, they are still man and woman, and they play off of one another beautifully. It’s while they are building the device for the fair that they work out their differences until they realize just how perfect they are for each other. It’s not as easy as I make it seem because the one big flaw they both have is stubbornness. A mule could take lessons from them. It takes a different secondary character to dangle the carrot to get the protagonists past themselves.

Since Astrid is the creator of many fascinating vibrating objects, a reader can expect the exploration of their use and resulting hot flashes. Readers will not be disappointed. Ms. Winters’ knows her way around a sexy scene, alone and with partners, and delivers quality spice with just the right amount of quantity to please most erotic romance readers.

The final scenes that lead to the happy ever after were classic romance and very satisfying. An erotic romance fan can’t go wrong in reading Combustion. It’s entertaining, fascinating, fun, and many times, quite stimulating. On sheer novelty alone, this is an easy book to recommend. I’ll never look at saddles the same way again.


  1. Do you ever suffer writer’s block and, if so, how do you overcome it?

    • Sometimes I get stuck when writing, yes. I hesitate to label it “writer’s block” because I feel like giving it a name makes it more powerful, if that makes sense. When I get stuck, I use a couple of different techniques to get unstuck. I try to shift my focus away from quality and onto quantity, because once I get momentum, the writing gets easier. That might mean just lowering my standards or timed word sprints, which I do a lot of on first drafts. Then, when I’m revising, I hone back in on quality. Thanks for the question.

  2. Very unusual subject but very interesting.

  3. I appreciate this review, and thanks for hosting me on the blog today!

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