Hellfire by Jeff Provine

Hellfire by Jeff Provine
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Paranormal, Historical
Length: Full Length (206 pages)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Locomotive fireman, Nate Kemp, uncovers a conspiracy around the miraculous Newton’s Catalyst, a powder that makes fires burn hotter than they should—secretly releasing the fires of Hell. Now, more is beginning to slip through, and the Rail Agency tries to tuck him away in a mental institution. Nurse Ozzie Jacey helps him escape. They must warn the capital, Lake Providence, before Hell literally breaks loose.

Hellfire is a Steampunk novel with all the steam, smoke, coal dust and dirt that steam engines bring. Gloriana cannot exist without its steam engines for trains, mills and other commercial engines. Newtons Catalyst is used to enhance the output. Railway fireman Nate Kemp finds the side effects of using this chemical are disastrous but those in charge will do anything to keep their secret.

I found the beginning of the book confusing and had difficulty keeping my attention focused. The story hopped from character to character and none of them seemed to have any depth. I’m glad I kept reading though as half way through the book the story picked up. Until this point the reason for the monsters and what made them so terrible had not been clear.

Then the excitement built with each passing chapter, making me want to find out what was happening, and how it would be resolved. The conflict between good and evil evolved and the character strengths deepened with every wave of tension. Good joined ranks to fight against the impossible odds of the Rail Agency marshals and their bodyguard hunchbacks, but these are only the frontmen. To beat the monsters Nate and his companions must find who is behind the monster invasion..

A good conclusion to what eventually became a clever steampunk story.

Keys by Amber Kell

Keys by Amber Kell
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Steampunk, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Length: Full Length (187 pages)
Other: M/M, anal sex
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Lilac

My name is Octavius Septimus Stalk, but my friends call me Oss. I live in the City of Keys, a town of gears, keys, locks, and wonder. Our forefathers banished magic long ago, bolted the doors and locked everything up tight to keep people out and the town’s secrets in. Four Lock Lords control what information is left, and everyone else is left struggling to survive.

Despite what Thorne, my naïve lover, thinks, I was an orphan, but not a victim. When I walked the streets at the age of twelve, I learned fast where to steal the best food, how to use my daggers, and where to hide my would-be attackers’ bodies. No one suspected me of such violence. No one knew then or now that I have magic inside me.

Now, power hungry men intend to release the magic for their own benefit—at the expense of the rest of the city. We will stop them, even if Thorne must battle his own kin, even if I must reveal my hidden talents and the role I seem destined to play.

A mage in hiding becomes embroiled in a conspiracy of evil men who wish to release magic into a steampunk world for their own nefarious reasons.

This story is told in first person from Oss’s point of view. He’s a former street urchin and a thief who keeps his magical abilities secret because those who have it tend to vanish in the dead of night, as magic is banned and tightly locked away. Oss is now one of the city’s key keepers and also in an established relationship with Thorne, a city guard who comes from wealth and nobility (he’s related to one of the four Lock Lords!) and whose star is on the rise. The plot moves at a quick pace, so we’re mostly not bogged down, and there’s a good balance between witty dialogue, fast-packed action, tense and thrilling moments, and sensual scenes.

The characters, especially the main heroes, are three-dimensional, smart and fun. Oss is more of an anti-hero, reluctant to be cast in a heroic role to save the world, and he hasn’t told anyone how his magic allows him unlock any locks he comes into contact with. Oss’s boyfriend Thorne is more attractive, suave, and outgoing. He’s warm and kind and a bit naive but he doesn’t retreat from dangers or challenges, and he never abandons Oss which I really appreciated. Their scenes together range from warm friendship to hot and heavy. In fact, this starts out pretty sexy and sensuous, but beyond that there’s a good story to be told. The relationship conflict is pretty mild, mainly Thorne wishing for them to be a couple, and Oss doubting true love could exist in a dystopian world. But… there’s also the fact that both men harbor a big secret from one another, so the prophecy coming to pass forces them to be honest, which creates a schism they must resolve together.

Though there’s sex in this book, this is more an adventure in a steampunk and fantasy setting than a romance. The world-building is done extremely well, it’s detailed and intricate without being overrun by useless info or smothered with info dumps. The story’s background is set by a prophecy that speaks of magic being released into the City of Locks, magic and gears colliding, and our heroes end up caught in the middle of that strife. This is something of a genre mashup, so if that’s not your thing…. For myself, I thought the mix of genres–adventure, fantasy, steampunk, fairytales, and erotic romance–was intriguing and certainly unique. I will definitely be checking out the next in the series (hoping there is one to be had!). In short, the City of Keys comes to life like one of the characters, and I longed to know more, see and hear and feel more.

You get a complete story here, but this being only the opening salvo for a new series, several things are left in the air. Yet none of that hampered my enjoyment and satisfaction of reading this tale of a fascinating world and its people. I highly recommend this for everyone who likes their established couples sassy and super-sexy, their adventures thrilling and dangerous, and their fantasy world well crafted and full of delicious details and coloring outside the lines.

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.

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.

The Gilded Scarab by Anna Butler

The Gilded Scarab by Anna Butler
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Steampunk, Alternate World, Historical, Action/Adventure
Length: Full Length (311 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex, Cheating/Sex Beyond the Main Pairing
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Lilac

When Captain Rafe Lancaster is invalided out of the Britannic Imperium’s Aero Corps after crashing his aerofighter during the Second Boer War, his eyesight is damaged permanently, and his career as a fighter pilot is over. Returning to Londinium in late November 1899, he’s lost the skies he loved, has no place in a society ruled by an elite oligarchy of powerful Houses, and is hard up, homeless, and in desperate need of a new direction in life.

Everything changes when he buys a coffeehouse near the Britannic Imperium Museum in Bloomsbury, the haunt of Aegyptologists. For the first time in years, Rafe is free to be himself. In a city powered by luminiferous aether and phlogiston, and where powerful men use House assassins to target their rivals, Rafe must navigate dangerous politics, deal with a jealous and possessive ex-lover, learn to make the best coffee in Londinium, and fend off murder and kidnap attempts before he can find happiness with the man he loves.

An aeronaut loses his commission due to an injury, gets a new job as a coffee shop owner in the heart of Londinium—and comes face to face with more temptations and deadly dangers than he ever did in the Aero Corps.

A part of this story reads like steampunk Starbucks coffee wars. Amazing stuff, really. I loved every bit of this tale. Though it starts kind of slow, the length of this piece gives time and space for each character to develop into three-dimensional people. Besides, Rafe is sort of lost in the beginning, trying to find a place where he might fit in, so the tardiness belongs there.

The plot is slow to reveal itself. If you’re a perceptive reader, some of the plot twists won’t come as a surprise. But the way everything is handled, is unique and absolutely captivating. The Houses that form the powerbases of this Londinium and the Britannic Imperium have fascinating and complex ties, so you never really know who’s on who’s side. And while the princeps of these Houses are known by all, the other members can be anyone really. You never know.

This complex steampunk world is given to us through Rafe’s eyes, via his first person sarcastic British wit and dry British humor. As such, the sporadic explanations given, a detail here and another there, merely raise a whole bunch of new questions. Clever piece of writing indeed. Thankfully, to those in need, there’s a glossary of terms in the back and a map of the main plot area in the front of the book. Trust me when I say both will come in handy, even if the map should have been the other way around, I think. The technologies alone are a staggering concoction of real and fantasy armaments, vehicles, city powers, etc. They all read realistic though they are far from it. Delicious.

Rafe is a wonderful character, a member of a Minor House and overjoyed at having nothing to do with them and their schemes. He’s smart though a bit slothful, loving though professing to care only for sex, and able to form natural, lasting friendships even though he’s suspicious of people’s motives and ties to the Houses. In short, Rafe is a complex individual, realistic and relatable.

Rafe becomes acquainted with two men, Edward and Daniel, in a gay molly house, and he has sex with both of them in the story, though not at the same time. A fair warning if your consider that cheating. One of these relationships forms the foundation of Rafe’s new life, the other becomes the bane of his existence. It’s not difficult to tell which is which. But that epiphany is only the beginning of the story.

Add to these the likes of Mr. Pearse, the coffee shop’s former owner, Hugh, Rafe’s batman, Will, the pastry chef next door, Hawkins, the bodyguard fully prepared to kill for his charge, or Stravaigor, Rafe’s House’s leader—and you have an amazing pool of people to draw Rafe into the multi-layered plot. And those above are just a few of the eccentric characters prowling the streets of Londinium, mixing their affairs with those of Rafe who is just trying to find a place to call his own.

I give this superbly woven tale top marks and my highest recommendations to anyone who likes a slow-build M/M romance filled with suspense and intrigue, even if you’re not a fan of steampunk or historicals. The sex portions take place at the beginning of the book, while the suspense fills out the rest. I am honestly impressed with the level of detail, characterization, plot developments, and the writing that matches the subtleties of the created world with its uses of slang and steampunk parlance. I absolutely recommend this to everyone, regardless of your preferred genre.

Perils of Pauline – Discovering Your Inner Geek

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy…okay, it was Wyoming…but it was a very long time ago. In this somewhat distant past, before the Women’s Movement and bra burning, girls weren’t always encouraged to do well at math and science in my small town. When I go through my mementoes of the past, it is something of a shock to realize I did well in both math and science until I entered high school. Then those grades fell off rather sharply.
I’m not sure if I really sucked at them, or if society decreed that I couldnt do it because I was a girl. I expect its a little of both. I loved to read, so English and history came easier for me. My tastes in fiction have always been diverse, but always leaned toward romance. My taste in movies and TV has always included action and adventure, so science fiction crept in, even when I thought I didn’t do science.
Whether it was nature or nurture that shaped me into a non-geek for many years, I do know I had no plans to wander into science fiction writing. So, when I penned a science fiction romance called The Key, I didn’t consider it science fiction. I honestly thought it was an action adventure romance. (Okay, so maybe my lack of science creds wasn’t totally nurture.)
Then a reviewer wrote this about The Key: “Love Linnea Sinclair? Get a kick out of Susan Grant? Then you’ll want to glom up on releases by Pauline Baird Jones. The Key isn’t so much a sci-fi release as it is a dang good read, and this reviewer is anxious to read more of Baird Jones. Fun and fantastic at the same time, The Key is an intergalactic space adventure that will thrill readers to the very tips of their toes. Heartstrings Reviews
And then it won a Dream Realm award for science fiction. Was the universe out of alignment? Had the non-geek really written a science fiction novel?
After I got done doing a couple of double takes (and quit waiting for someone to out me as a fake geek), I went looking for other science fiction romances and discovered something amazing. I was geek enough to enjoy them. (We are talking about mostly made up science here.)
Since wandering among the science fiction shelves I have discovered that I can enjoy hard science fiction (Alexis Glynn Latner’s Hurricane Moon, which also has a romance, btw) and even military science fiction (Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series, which also has some romance in it and awesome action). What I’ve also discovered is some rocking fun action and high adventure liberally mixed with lots of wonderful romance. If you’re interested in exploring this diverse and smoking cool genre check out this list of 100 suggested SFR and romantic SF titles at The Galaxy Express blog. You might be surprised to find that you have a hidden, inner geek, too, one willing and able to enjoy a little made-up science in their fiction.
Pauline Baird Jones is the award-winning author of eleven novels of science fiction romance, steampunk, action-adventure, suspense, romantic suspense and comedy-mystery. Her latest release is a steampunk/science fiction romance called Steamrolled. You can find out more than you ever wanted to know about her at www.perilouspauline.com

Peril of Pauline – It was a Dark and Steamy Night…

…not fit for man nor beast—but perfect for an automaton. Okay, I guess it might rust, or maybe catch some lightning, but a machine doesn’t have the sense to stay in out of the rain unless the lightning makes it sentient…hmmmm….
And thus a steampunk idea begins to spin inside the brain…
It might sound a bit whacky, but despite a bit of crazy a steampunk novel is much like any other novel. It has a setting (Victorian period anywhere in the world—or out of it), characters (often crazy inventors/mad scientists and always some intrepid gals and guys), and a story (which may or may not include brass goggles, airships, clockwork inventions, and automatons on the rampage) that might have elements of romance, or mystery, some action adventure, a thread of horror, or a mix of some or all of those elements.
Unlike some genres, steampunk is wide open, free flowing, and ready and willing to be almost everything to everyone. It can start in the present and send characters time traveling to the past. It can take place in alternate realities/histories or on other planets. What defines it as steampunk is the presence of steam-based, but anachronistic technology, such as The Difference Engine, cool clockwork stuff or those pesky automatons. At present it also has a Victorian feel, but authors are already pushing its boundaries further into the past, curious to see how advanced technology might have impacted the Old West in the US, Egyptians and Chinese, or possibly deepest, darkest Africa.
Since there is no central, governing authority, steampunk is free to fan out in multiple—and fun—directions. Are you intrigued yet? Cautiously interested? How about a little test to see if you might like yourself some steampunk fun?
1.            Do you have a sense of humor? Feel drawn to the whimsical and the weird?
2.            Prefer horror? Cybernetics? Zombies? Creatures of the night?
3.            Read historical or romance in general?  Romantic suspense? Urban fantasy? Dystopia? Hooked on fantastical creatures? Things that go bump in the night (and sometimes the day)?
4.            What about alternate realities? Science fiction? Fantasy? Action adventure?
5.            Like heroic pirates? Sexy inventors? Airship captains? Detectives? Rebels? Spies?
6.            Corsets? Brass goggles? Whacky inventions? Derringers and parasols as weapons and accessories?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you passed “go” and can head straight for some steampunk fun. Here’s Heather Masey’s basic reading list to get you started:
Traditional steampunk

The Affinity Bridge (George Mann) and its sequel, The Osiris Ritual (a great place to start if you’ve never read steampunk before)
Whitechapel Gods (S.M. Peters)
Mainspring (Jay Lake)
The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (Mark Hodder)
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Alan Moore)
The Narrows (Alexander Irvine)
Mortal Engines (Philip Reeve)
You can also read the immensely popular Girl Genius online for free.
Steampunk romance

The Iron Duke (Meljean Brook)

The Miraculous Lady Law (Robert Appleton)
Steamed (Katie MacAlister)

Like Clockwork (Bonnie Dee)

Tangled In Time and Steamrolled, and Steam Time (Pauline Baird Jones)

Clockworks and Corsets (Regina Riley)
Hot and Steamy: Tales of Steampunk Romance (DAW Books anthology)
Full Steam Ahead and Mechanical Rose (Nathalie Gray)
Clockwork Heart (Dru Pagliassotti)

And if you want to try a bit before you dive into a whole novel, check out the Dreamspell Steampunk Anthology. Four short stories by four authors and a great price (2.99). Digital only. 

So, dear readers, have you tried any steampunk? Read or watched anything on this list? Curious or ready to love the new genre? 
Pauline Baird Jones is the award-winning author of eleven novels of science fiction romance, steampunk, action-adventure, suspense, romantic suspense and comedy-mystery. Her latest release is a steampunk/science fiction romance called Steamrolled. You can find out more than you ever wanted to know about her at www.perilouspauline.com

Perils of Pauline – Why Time Travel is a Bad Idea :-)

Breaking news: Chinese Government Bans Time Travel….

… in movies and television shows because, “…many stories are totally made-up …” 

I am glad I don’t reside in China, because I love me my time travel and always have, though the Chinese do have a point. There is huge fictional evidence that time travel is a really bad idea. Look what goes wrong when fictional people time travel?

The Time Machine = Morlocks. Nuff said there. (And if you want to see Sheldon from Big Bang Theory freak out over Morlocks, click here!) 

Time Rider = becomes his own great-grandfather, which is probably better than sleeping with your great-nephew (Kate & Leopold which I personally enjoyed but had to not think about it too much!).

The Terminator – evil cyborg sent back in time to stop you from being born.

Time after Time –inadvertently help Jack the Ripper to escape through time.

Peggy Sue Got Married – get to travel back in time and change nothing. In fact, make the same mistakes you made before so ends up feeling guilty twice.

Timeline – Yeah, let’s go back in time and get our head whacked off by a SWORD. And die before we were ever born. Good plan.

New Star Trek = whole history rewritten. Okay, maybe that wasn’t so bad, because now there is ton of new stories and movies incoming. And wow, Spock. 

Back to the Future = okay, this one ended well for Marty and his family, but Biff has to be a bit bitter.

The Final Countdown = I’m still bitter they didn’t engage. It’s a movie! Why can’t we change history in a movie? (Which might bring us full circle to why China banned it?)

I actually do agree with the Chinese government on one point. Some of it might be true. (How can we claim any geek creds if we don’t believe???) So how come we don’t know if time travel is possible? Because if someone in the future masters it, wouldn’t they pop up in the past? Like now?

I found a book on Amazon that not only explains how to make a machine from commonly obtainable items, but shares actual time travel experiences. No big shock to find this useful book is temporarily out of stock, but if you read the reviews, you get a glimpse into the fun stuff available for those lucky enough to own a copy. According to S.S. Casteel, Amazon Reviewer and fortunate possessor of a rare copy of the book:

The MIB seemed to know where Gibb’s friend was from, the year 1994, and fired a beam of some form of unknown energy at the hapless time traveler, who awakened in his bedroom with a red mark on his leg, similar to the marks left behind after an alien abduction experience.”

For the more serious time travel scholar, Stephen Hawking has weighted in on the subject

And we have a Professor predicting time travel in this century. 

For a fun list of the best and worst time travel movies

So you agree? Disagree? How do you really feel about time travel? Believer or skeptic? Favorite movies or books? Favorite trip into the past or future?

Pauline Baird Jones has not only read many time travel books and viewed numerous time travel movies and shows; she’s written several books that incorporate time travel (though it almost made her head explode—hmm, plot by MIB and the gray aliens to halt time travel fiction?). Pauline is the author of eleven books of a variety of genres, including steampunk/science fiction romance. You can find out more about her and her books at: www.perilouspauline.com

Perils of Pauline – Adventures in Reading and Writing :-)

Last fall, as freezing temperatures swept away our lovely weather, my daughter posted on her Facebook wall that she hadn’t met anyone that day who was familiar with the phrase “Ice Station Zebra.” It’s almost our stock, cold weather phrase and has been for years, so I was surprised, but then I wasn’t.

Ice Station Zebra is a kick-ass novel written by Alastair Maclean (there’s a movie, too, but the book is better). I defy anyone to read it without needing a blanket, even in August. So, for our family, the title has come to represent all things freezing.

The reason many of her friends missed the book is because Maclean published his action adventure novels (and some non-fiction) from 1955 to 1989. He is rather well known in our family because he remains to this day one of my favorite authors, and I have encouraged my kids to at least try to read him at some point in their growing up years.

His books have had, IMHO, a profound impact on my books. The guy knew how to kick the suspense into high gear and keep it there. (If you are curious, you can learn more about him here.) While there are many current-to-this-century authors that I love to read, my daughter’s wall post got me thinking about other authors who have heavily influenced my writing. So that’s what I’d like to write about today—and perhaps in the process you’ll discover some new/old favorite author/s to check out.

A lot of historical authors will cite Georgette Heyer as an influence in their writing. Her books also profoundly influenced me, though not into writing historical fiction. What I learned from this master storyteller was about great characterization (and gentle humor). Her characters leap off the page and stay with you long after you close one of her books.

I discovered Mary Stewart while watching the Disney movie, The Moonspinners. (Huge Haley Mills fan, even now.) When I realized the movie had been adapted from a novel, I headed to the library and fell in love again. Stewart also taught me about ramping up the suspense (though in a less forceful way than Maclean–lol), but from her I also learned about the subtle art of understatement—in both suspense (gore) and romance (sometimes the characters don’t even kiss at the end, but I always sighed with satisfaction)—and about character voice. She wrote mostly in first person, so her characters had to grab you and keep you in the story. It would have been easy for all her characters to sound the same, but they didn’t.

I’ve spent the last few years collecting books (not an easy feat by any means!) by another author who I also must credit for helping me become a better writer. I discovered Elizabeth Cadell when I was reading my way around the library. She wrote a wide variety of books, from light romance to light mystery, to the semi-autobiographical. From her I learned about humor, creating a sense of time and place, and about the importance of secondary characters in building a fictional world. Two of my favorite secondary characters are from her Brimstone in the Garden. Cousin Clarry is a classic feat of character creation and the two minions of the Devil? Well, you need to track this down and read it. That’s all I can say.

If you know anything about me at all, you’ll notice that my early inspirations weren’t science fiction, and yet here I am, in this new century writing science fiction romance—and throwing some steampunk in just for fun.

I will confess to being a bit startled about that, too. But when I go in an examine my own body of work (doesn’t that sound important? LOL), I find that even with my first novel, The Spy Who Kissed Me, I was already trending toward action adventure. In 2006, when Out of Time released, I had admitted to myself that my primary genre was action-adventure, and that’s what I wanted to continue to write. So, when I made the move into outer space with The Key, I didn’t notice that it was science fiction. It took a reviewer to point out the obvious—which made me panic. How could I write science fiction when I did lousy in my science classes? Unless I was writing fiction back then, too? That would explain a lot.

“They” (who are they anyway?) tell us that there is a tipping point where a person becomes a reader or they don’t. I don’t remember that tipping point. It feels like I’ve always been a reader, but the books I’ve shared with you today, kept me reading and propelled me into writing.

Do you have a defining moment, a defining book that sealed you forever as a book lover? As a reader? As a writer? Do tell! Because obviously I love talking books. 😀

To learn more about my books (and steampunk!) visit my website at www.perilouspauline.com
Pauline Baird Jones is the award-winning author of nine novels of science fiction romance, action-adventure, suspense, romantic suspense and comedy-mystery. Her latest release is Steamrolled. She’s written two non-fiction books, Adapting Your Novel for Film and Made-up Mayhem, and she co-wrote  Managing Your Book Writing Business with Jamie Engle. Her seventh novel, Out of Time, an action-adventure romance set in World War II, is an EPPIE 2007 winner. Her eighth novel, The Key won an Independent Book Award Bronze Medal (IPPY) for 2008 and is a 2007 Dream Realm Awards Winner. She also has short stories in several anthologies. Originally from Wyoming, she and her family moved from New Orleans to Texas before Katrina.