Sep162016

Book Review ~ Steamed Up Anthology (M/M Steampunk Romance)

Gentle Reader, this is a mid month book review of an anthology of m/m steampunk short stories. Sometimes I break the pattern of only reviewing at the end of the month. I know, crazy talk.

OK so the Steamed Up anthology came across my radar via the m/m romance arena as it is has Eli Easton as a contributor. I’ve read a bit of her contemporary stuff and liked it, so I decided to give this a try.  (What, you’re surprised?)

o-steamed-up

I really enjoyed it. The romances sweet and mainly pretty tame in the smut arena, and utilized largely very well developed steampunk worlds and settings (for short stories). The editing was spot on and the writing of an unexpectedly high caliber, all-in-all I recommend the book.

Here are my thoughts on the specific stories:

  1. Five to One by Angelia Sparrow ~ two young lower class men build a racing machine to enter a cross country speed competition. The romance is between long time friends Jonathan and Dee, told from Jonny’s perspective. Dee is the inventor. It’s a sexual awakening story, as such the sex manages to be both innocent and graphic.
  2. The Clockwork Nightingale’s Song by Amy Rae Durreson ~ Probably my favorite of the stories, this is a love story between a mechanical nightingale and a real bird paralleled to that of an eccentric aristocratic genius (Gabriel) and a lowly mechanic (Shem). I adored the setting: a floating Vauxhall Garden. Beautifully written, the two characters are very gentle with one another, and I’m a sucker for a cross-class romance. “Instead, he wrapped his own arms around Gabriel and let him murmur wild, disorderly words into the crook of Shem’s neck, until Shem just had to kiss him quiet again.”
  3. Durreson Ace of Hearts by Mary Pletsch ~ very WWII feeling  love story between a hot shot dirigible pilot Captain James Hinson and Aeroplane Mechanic First Class William Pettigrew that concerns planes, a daring rescue mission, and an in-air dog fight. This one was quite chaste, just some kissing, but the airship action was fantastic.
  4. Caress by Eli Easton~ this story was by far the darkest and the creepiest, not what I expected from Eli, but quite enjoyable nevertheless. It had a Crimean battlefield medical tent feel to it and involved a tinker who must build the man he loves new hands, hands that can kill and will obey their general’s commands. There’s an element of PTSD, and the suffering inherit in war forcing good men to kill. This one pulls no punches but still manages to be impossibly sweet.
  5. The Galatea’s Captain by Anka Grace ~ A very British Empire feel to this romance involving a multiracial couple, the man who needs a new leg and the airship captain who can build it for him. It’s very much a sweet romance, with only kissing and has yet another red headed love interest. (Several of the stories involve red-heads.)
  6. Screws by R.D. Hero ~ This was probably the most graphic of the stories, sexual, and more what one might expect from a standard m/m romance. This was a another mixed-class romance, and a I liked the factory setting, and the poor-little-rich-boy slumming-it premise.
  7.  The Clockwork Heart by Kim Fielding ~ An extremely touching Pygmalion story of a withdrawal social awkward scrap-heap tailor and the automaton he finds, repairs,  and falls in love with. This one was quite the tear jerker. (If you like my recommend read of Bitterwood I think you would enjoy Kim’s other work too, which is mostly m/m fantasy. Start with this one The Sacrifice and Other Stories ~ please ignore the appalling cover.)
  8. The Golden Goose by Mark Lesney ~ a botched robbery leads a thief to rescue an impoverished nobleman from rape. There’s an undersea a la Jules Verne element to this but I found the mad genius con artist aspect a bit trying.
  9. Spindle and Bell by Augusta Li ~ this one was very sad, a opium addicted fae thief finds love with a lonely doctor dying from plague.
  10. Untouchable by Layla M. Wier ~ A detective with a clockwork heart and the new kid federal investigator form ranks to fight Capone’s gang. This one had a wild west meets detective noir hard-bitten loner cowboy meets his match feel to it, ah la Brokeback Mountain. So, of course, I liked it.
  11. Swiftsilver by Bell Ellis ~ the misused and misunderstood apprentice of an alchemist finds love with a crazy daredevil rake. “Disasters were always striking Thio.” This one felt the most like my kind of steampunk, with a country house, high society, and a crazy laboratory. It’s a longer story and a fitting one for the end of the series, full of sexual awakenings turning into long running love, and a airship into forever.

I was impressed that the anthology not only balanced different kinds of romances, characters, and plots, but also setting and general feel of plot and world building. It’s rare for me to find an anthology where I enjoy all the offerings, even the sad ones. If you’re one for a bit of steampunk and some m/m romance this if for you.

Missing your Biffy and Lyall? This might help ease the pain.

{Gail’s monthly read along for September is Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair.}

PROJECT ROUND UP  

  • Romancing the Inventor ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Working proof. Releases Nov. 1 2016.
    LBGT romance featuring a parlourmaid bent on seducing a certain cross-dressing inventor who is too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?
  • Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Outline.
    LBGTQ reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and a very unexpected gift.
  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novella? Novel? Who knows.
    Status: Rough draft.
    Something new and different for Gail, contemporary m/m paranormal romance between a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

SPECIAL RE-RELEASE

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My Sister’s Song

The warrior Mithra must repel a Roman legion alone and armed only with one very tasty weapon.

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Le Follet Saturday, August 1, 1863 v. 43, plate 60

Le Follet Saturday, August 1, 1863 v. 43, plate 60

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

For the First Time You’ll Be Able to Read Ancient Egyptian Literature in English

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

In Praise of Reader Reviews ~ A book critic on what she learns from the masses on Amazon and Goodreads. “The novel I regard as brilliant never quite wins the audience I feel it deserves, while the one I wave away as mawkishly overwritten strikes the reading public as wonderful. This happened before the internet, of course, but now, thanks to reader reviews, I stand a better chance of finding out why.”

Book News:

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Quote of the Day:

“You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you have never had the courage to commit.”

~ Oscar Wilde

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