Clockwork Victoria by Barbara Russell

Clockwork Victoria by Barbara Russell
Publisher: Champagne Book Group
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Steampunk, Paranormal
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Chamomile

Catching her is only the beginning.

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Soon Beatrice wonders if her steam-powered gadgets and street smarts will keep her alive long enough to find the darn blueprint. And the worst part? She can’t deny her attraction for Alexander.

This was my first time reading anything by Barbara Russell, and what a wonderful treat it was! A sweet (clean) romance, paired with non-stop action and a beautifully written plot with superb world-building! Steampunk is so often tied to horror, which I only enjoy in small doses. Not so with this one, and I lapped it up in one heart-stopping chapter after another!

I loved how the plot and story are woven together blending the romance and action, steampunk elements and fantasy into a seamless pace and flow that makes it impossible to put down! The characters are another great part of the story. I quickly found I loved the whole cast, and am so glad I got to know them as their story plays out.

A wonderful story my a genre-bending master, Barbara Russell nailed this one with the skilled mastery of words and beautiful author magic to make both world-building and characters fit so perfectly into the story going on around them! 5 stars!

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

Is not that crazy? 1600kr – viagra without prescriptions 2000 SEK per month in order to have sex like everyone else? It feels like there is something not quite right. online cialis no prescription Therefore, you are advised to stop hand practice and recover from bad effects. The take-home message, both experts said, is levitra cheapest price that when you are preoccupied with your navel, hips or thighs, you cannot enjoy the moment, which is a crucial need to have a healthy sex life. The condition is recognized as erectile tadalafil tablet dysfunction and can lead to severe fall down in blood pressure levels that need immediate medical attention. 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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.