Many authors will tell you that they are or were avid readers. What they don’t’ tell you is that they bitch and complain about their favorite genres or authors as much as you do. I am an author who loves writing contemporary and paranormal romances. They are my happy place and I love to read in those genres. However, they are not the ONLY genres I enjoy.
For the last several months I’ve been on a Sci-fi and Space Opera romance binge that is almost embarrassing (almost). And as a result of my recent addiction I’ve been scouring Goodreads for recommendations and lists in the hopes of adding to my stash. And thanks to the increase of publishers acquiring more authors and stories of color, it hasn’t been difficult for me to find books with a multicultural cast…with the exception of one sub-genre…So fast forward to last month, while I was having a convo with a friend bemoaning the lack of Multicultural and Interracial Steampunk Romance. I was half-way through my long (and increasingly loud) rant when my friend interrupted me and asked, “What is Steampunk?”
After the steam evaporated from my ears and my vision cleared I realized that her simple question was the root of all my woes. Steampunk, in many aspects is virtually unknown to many romance readers and that’s a real shame. Without good reader support and request, some genres just never gain in popularity. After I explained the genre to my friend she was genuinely interested in it and asked for some good recommendations. I walked away from that conversation feeling accomplished and excited. And guess what? When my friend finished reading that first book I recommended and LOVED it, she went on to buy the next one in that series. Me, little ole me had just introduced someone to a new genre. The sense of power was overwhelming…yet fleeting. I need MORE! And that’s where you come in.
I have a plan and today you’re going to help me take over the world…of romance at least. RNIC has been nice enough to bring me on as a blogger and I intend to use that power…ahem, I mean privilege to introduce or re-introduce readers to all the lovely and varied sub-genres of romance. So guess which sub-genre I plan on starting with first? That’s right: STEAMPUNK. So let’s start at the beginning…
What is Steampunk?
Steampunk (in fiction) is a sub-genre of fantasy and science fiction. When most people think of Steampunk they usually think of Victorian clothing, gears, corsets, airships and goggles (lots of goggles). But the core elements of the genre usually include the following:
- An alternate historical setting: This is usually an alternate Victorian England, but I’ve read several set in different countries
- Steam power: From airships to locomotives, steam abounds
- Sci-Fi and Fantasy elements: Think Robocop wearing a smoking jacket. Or Edward Scissor hands in an English garden
- Gadgets & Devices (EVERYWHERE): Gadgets and interesting inventions are almost everywhere you turn in Steampunk fiction. From mechanical body parts, to a metal heart. And the villains are ALWAYS pimped out with some serious -ish.
What is a Steampunk Romance?
Basically Steampunk Romance combines everything I mentioned above with some kick-ass heroines and hot heroes. The women are usually very savvy and intelligent. The perfect Steampunk hero is usually a combination of a swashbuckling pirate, quirky inventor and pensive poet. All things I love in a man. When you pick up a Streampunk romance expect to find lots of intrigue, adventure, romance and…corsets. Steampunk is everything I love about Historical Romance but without all of the pesky facts. History is literally re-written or “twerked” in these types of novels which is why it is considered a sub-genre of fantasy.
Some Recommended Reads
Clockwork Fairies by Cat Rambo
This short story is a great introduction to Steampunk…although it’s not strictly considered a romance it has strong romantic elements. The narrator makes me want to scream and main (mainly him), but the story is on point and the descriptions just beautifully written. You can download it via Amazon or read it for free at Tor here.
Desiree feels the most at home with her clockwork creations, but Claude worries about all this science and Darwinist nonsense—after all, where do clockwork fairies fall in the Great Chain of Being?
Check it out on Goodreads
The Strange Fate of Capricious Jones by Robert C. Roman
This is the first in Mr Roman’s Iron Angel series. The first book is mainly action/adventure with some romantic elements, but the second book contains a true romance between characters introduced in book one.
The Triple Alliance, led by Kaiser Otto II, struck without warning. The combination of Prussian military might, Austrian clockwork, and Ottoman funding cut through the unprepared Entente powers like a chainsaw through Brie; hamstringing Britain, pinning Russia, and very nearly destroying France. The year is 1908, and the Entente is almost defunct. One base in southern France is all that remains.
Check it out on GoodReads
The Seduction of Phaeton Black by Jillian Stone
Frankly the blurb had me “demons dance till dawn“. This book is also part of a series and a really great representation of Steampunk Romance.
In the gaslit streets of Victorian London, phantoms rule the night, demons dance till dawn, and one supernatural detective dares to be seduced by the greatest power of all. . .
He’s The Man With The Magic Touch
A master of deduction, seduction and other midnight maneuvers, Phaeton Black is Scotland Yard’s secret weapon against things that go bump in the night. His prodigious gifts as a paranormal investigator are as legendary as his skills as a lover, his weakness for wicked women as notorious as his affection for absinthe. But when he’s asked to hunt down a fanged femme fatale who drains her victims of blood, he walks right into the arms of the most dangerous woman he’s ever known. . .
She’s The Devilish Miss Jones
Pressing a knife to his throat–and demanding he make love to her–Miss America Jones uses Phaeton as a willing shield against the gang of pirates chasing her. As deadly as she is, with a derringer tucked in her garter, Miss Jones is not the vampiric killer he’s been staking out–but she may be just what Phaeton needs to crack the case. As the daughter of a Cajun witch, she possesses uncanny powers. As a fearless fighter, she can handle anything from Egyptian mummies to Jack the Ripper. But when an ancient evil is unleashed on the world, she could be his only salvation. . .or ultimate sacrifice.
Check it out on Goodreads
Nights of Steel by Nico Rosso
This book is part of a larger series titled The Ether Chronicles. The series itself is written by husband-wife duo Zoe Archer and Nico Rosso. The stories are EPIC, the romance sizzling and the adventure, just freaking unbelievable.
Return to The Ether Chronicles, where the skies above the American West are about to get wilder than ever…
Bounty hunter Anna Blue always finds her fugitive. But her latest mission is filled with mystery: a high price for an eccentric inventor. And her biggest rival, Jack Hawkins—a startlingly handsome, entirely unsettling man whose abilities match her own—is hunting the same bounty. Neither will back down.
When a rogue Man O’ War flies his airship into the California skies, guns blazing, Anna and Jack are forced to team up or die. But it isn’t the danger that has them ready to flare like gunpowder. They’ve circled each other for years as competitors only. Fighters and outsiders, they never thought they’d find a kindred soul. As hot passion and raw need draw them together, can they survive this mission long enough to track the most elusive fugitives…their hearts
Check it out on Goodreads
So there you have it, the ultimate BARE BONES, Romance Reader Beginner’s Guide to Steampunk Romance. For those of you already familiar with the genre, what are your recommended reads? What do you love or hate about it? And If you’re new to it does the genre sound interesting to you? Feel free to speak and ask questions in the comments below.
***Full disclaimer: Several corsets, rivets and airships were damaged during the writing of this post. Plus I lost my favorite pair of goggles! May God save the Queen.***
Laurel Cremant is an opinionated author and reader of romance with a wicked sense of humor. RNIC was smart (or crazy) to bring her on as a blogger. Come back on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month to get her romance industry news…with a colorful twist.