Release Date: May 5. 2015
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Historical Romance
For explosive chemistry, all you need is the right catalyst…
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.
Warning: 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.
I think I picked up COMBUSTION by Elia Winters because I thought it was Steampunk. I think it was tagged as Sci-Fi/Fantasy in NetGalley and based on the cover art, it does look like it's going to be another sexy Victorian adventure.
Ummm... not quite... this is what I get for NOT reading blurbs and for being such a cover whore!
The story. It's what the blurb said, an enterprising inventor/machinist, Astrid Bailey, who is in the business of making dildos and vibrators and she is set on bringing her products mainstream. Fortunately for her, she has a few patron, unfortunately for her, the judges on the prestigious World's Fair doesn't think so. What happened next? Let's just say, it did end happily for Astrid but not without the help of a few cunning friends and a sexy fellow inventor, Eli Rutledge.
Normally, I'd be so mad for being duped by a novel that banked on "false marketing". Books pretending to be something, in this case, Steampunk, only to have a steamy and very imaginative historical romance instead. COMBUSTION has no distinct world building to speak of, nor is the novel peppered by peculiarities that would make it a sci-fi fantasy. The most fantastical extent the novel went with is calling England Britannia and having a society where Queen Victoria's people are somewhat okay with vibrators, or felicitation devices (bullets, rabbits, anal plugs, etc.), and have a fucking machine exhibited at the World's Fair. The old bat would faint at the scandal!
But we all know these don't make for Steampunk!
The "bones" of COMBUSTION is good though, EWinters could easily expand the novel and world if she choose to, like adding depth and tone to the novel by creating more tension, firmer backstories, and an array of relationships for Astrid. Like stressing on the the taboos of self-pleasure,having a few moral antagonists, heighten Astrid's sexuality and non conformity, a strong group of influential female friends, etc. Plot devices like these could've easily made COMBUSTION a great read, or a sexy historical series even.
Regardless, I did enjoy COMBUSTION, found it funny at times. Also I should know better, this is published by Samhain and Samhain is known for its hot reads! EWinters style is very engaging in its simplicity and though it wasn't a 5-cauldron read, the characters are well written and the conflict/resolution plausible. And did I mention how hot this was? Like African Summer level, hot? So girls and guys, grab your favorite BoB, COMBUSTION is going to be quite a ride.