Steamlust - book by Cleis Press Inc. - review by Antipova

Steampunk, Extra Steam.

My only regret in Steamlust is that too many of the stories are too similar---all feature strong brilliant heroines whose hearts won't be confined by their corsets. If you don't mind romance with your erotica, exclusively male-female couplings, and a little more focus on the corsets than the cogs, this book will be fascinating. Even for the hardcore cog fans among us, Steamlust holds a lot to love, and there are stories worth reading for anyone who thinks steampunk is steamy.
Brass, steam and automata, brilliant women and courageous men, well-written character-based stories.
Not enough variety (all hetero, from female's perspective). More romancey than I like.
Rating by reviewer:
extremely useful review
For those whose eyes gleam brighter with buckles and brass, whose fingertips explore possibilities while covered in soot, there is steampunk. And for those whose hearts beat faster to the sound of clockwork, whose imaginations won't be confined by their tightly laced corsets, there is Steamlust.

Cleis Press, as always, brings together excellent authors in a well-edited, glossy trade-sized paperback book that will make you wonder why you ever read erotica online. The storytelling is polished, the plots fit the theme, the editing is impeccable, and if your guests won't mind the steamy title on your bookshelf, Steamlust will blend right in. This book features 14 stories in 217 pages, and all of the stories feature women experiencing the finer things in life in a Victorian-inspired, steam-powered atmosphere. Not quite every story features an engineer, but many of them do, and those of use with clockwork fantasies will find our hearts racing with the developments of auspiciometers and swamp-skippers, thrilling with the cracking of codes and the rush of the rise of a hot-air balloon.

Sacchi Green, in her fantastic Fog, Flight, and Moonlight tells the story of Maddy Brown, whose lust for the skies ("Rising through dimness into light, from earthbound cloud into limitless freedom, always gave me a thrill keener than any other---except sex, and even then such peak encounters had been few") might just be exceeded by another lust actualized in the sky. With nothing brought along but a picnic basket, you'll be in awe of Maddy's mastery of wind currents... and men.

Like many of the stories in Steamlust, Golden Moment by Lynn Townsend is very character-focused, and the heroine's boldness and skill are augmented by a bit of clever engineering. The son of her late mentor can appreciate her (and her auspiciometer), and, characteristic of Steamlust, focuses strongly on physical foreplay. "Her knees buckled as he ran his tongue down her spine, and then nuzzled at teh small of her back, his fingers encircling her waist, teasing her hips, brushing across her belly. She couldn't look away from her reflection, watching the heat of passion paint a rosy pink blush across her cheeks and chest, her nipples hard, her breasts proud and upright."

Mary Borsellino's became one of my favorite stories---an automaton who has been given free will by a political rebellion. She's not-quite-a-nymphomaniac, and she runs a cog-spinning shop, and in Liberated we hear her share her story with a client, all under a ceiling of reinforced glass, surrounded by disassembled bits of brass.
Many of these stories focus on hetero romance as well as lust. All are told from a female point of view, and more stories than I'm used to featured years of waiting for a partner's return or the beginning promises of a new relationship. I suppose that goes along with the Victorian stereotypes of the genre, but I would have liked at least a couple of chance encounters among the bunch. In the fourteen stories, there is one FFM threesome (Rescue My Heart), one queer woman coupled with a man (Fog, Flight, and Moondlight), and the rest were pure traditional heterosexual. A lot of attention is given to fashion, as well, which is lovely for the lover of a good corset and its good removal, but I would have traded a few corsets for a few extra automata.

I have a good collection of erotica anthologies from Cleis, and I tend to judge books by how many stories I will come back and reread. In Steamlust, I absolutely loved Fog, Flight, and Moonlight and Liberated. I will likely spend time with Make Your Own Miracles, Rescue My Heart, and Iron Hard again. The rest of the stories were strong in their telling and their plots were exciting (how could they not be, with speculative fiction politics and inventions without limitations?) but the very common thread of an atypically clever female protagonist means many of them blended together in my head after I'd gone a few pages further.
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My Steamlust tags
  • Who / How / What
    [ ? ]
    Who might this product be best for? How is it best used? What are the best circumstances or situations for using this product?
    • Anyone
    • Mood enhancer
  • Where
    [ ? ]
    Where / what types of places can this product be used?
    • Anywhere
  • Features
    [ ? ]
    What kind of features does this product offer?
    • Travel friendly
  • Body / part areas
    [ ? ]
    What areas on the body can this product be used / what areas does it stimulate best?
    • Heterosexual
    • Vaginal
    • Vanilla
Do you like this review?
  • Sinyc
    Great book review. This is something I would not have expected myself to be interested in, though I am now. I'm suddenly distracted by thoughts of women with a complete set of imperial size wrenches and the cleverness to use them.
  • ginas
    Great review thank you!
  • catastic
    Thanks for the great review!
  • Antipova
    Glad to be able to help, everyone!

    Don't count the set complete until you're up to 1 3/4 inches... it's when the wrenches are longer than your forearms that things really get fun
  • PeaceToTheMiddleEast
    Thanks for sharing!
  • RomanticGoth
    Thanks for sharing. I've had my eye on this one for a while.
  • Antipova
    It's especially good for those who like the extra romance, so it should be right up your alley, RomanticGoth!
  • TheSinDoll
    Wonderful book review! Thanks for sharing!
  • Antipova
    Thanks, SinDoll!
  • ViVix
    I don't generally like romantic erotica. Great review though!
  • Antipova
    Glad I was able to help!
  • Ivy Wilde
    Thanks for the great review.
  • SneakersAndPearls
    Thanks for the review! I've been looking at this one on and off.
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