Shakespeare & Steampunk: Romancing the Words

bookCover_big_withBleedGuest blog by Nikki Woolfolk, author of The Men of Summerly

When I decided to write the second installment in my Steampunk romance Sweet & Steamy series I never imagined that of the mashup, but the results caused my own heart to flutter and be swept up in the magic that only Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream play can do.

In my reimagining the Cinderella fairytale with two male characters wasn’t a challenge in my Steampunk world, but figuring out how to slip in some of my favorite Shakespeare was a happy challenge I was willing to accept.

We are all aware of the Ball and its significance to the Cinderella story, but I wanted to go a little different. In my little Appalachian town of Stubborn, I decided that not only was the Ball happening at the Summerly mansion, but it was to be a Midsummer Night’s Dream themed ball.

There is something wonderful and sincere about being out under the stars during a Summer Solstice. That time of the year on its own is magical, add an estate filled with fairies, dragonfly winged ladies and luminaries scattered across a vast estate and it can’t be any dreamier. Here’s an excerpt:

 Ash strolled up the path passing the automated kerosene fueled lamps that lit the walkway to the double wooden door wearing the donkey head. Standing on either side of the entrance were two mature women, one dressed in flowing iridescent silks of a Roman gown and her partner in loose fitting trousers wearing a flowered crown. Both their faces shimmered with glitter.

“Greetings fair one. May I see your invitation?” the woman in trousers said.

Ash patted his breast pocket of his cream colored jacket and pulled out his card stock.

The woman in the gown took it from his grasp, looked it over. “Bless thee, Bottom. Bless thee!” The two women laughed and stepped aside to let Ash by.

Ash let out a playful bray. The waiting guests behind him chuckled. He heard music coming from the ballroom but the growling of his stomach led him to the dining area where a grand buffet stood in the middle of the room.

Tiered plates held bite-sized portions of decadent food. In the center of the table was a fountain gently pouring forth a dark violet liquid. Ash read the card. “Blueberry soup.”

A server held out two bowls filled with the liquid with a dollop of cream in the center. He took both, turned on his heel and found himself facing Neville.

Ash held perfectly still.

Neville gave him a disgusted look. “I believe the word is excuse me,” he said pushing past Ash to get to the buffet.

Ash found he had lost his appetite. He left the room hoping to put as much distance as he could between him and his tormentor. Ash continued through the doorway into the library in which several railways were set up. People made friendly wagers as they raced miniature steam trains. He passed a gentleman on a chaise being fed grapes by several men. Women dressed as sprites giggled. One offered Ash a caster sugar covered grape. He nodded his donkey head. The sprite slid a grape underneath the mask searching by feel for his mouth. He ate the grape and the sprite patted the top of his donkey head before returning her attention to the chaise lounge.

He wandered through the rooms each offering different forms of entertainment. Music grew louder as he stepped into the hallway and followed it to the ballroom. He watched a quartet dressed as woodland creatures playing sweeping tunes from Mendelssohn. Ash stood near the doorway swaying to the music and watching the dancers with rice paper wings twirling around the ballroom floor. Ash’s gaze travelled up to the ceiling painted a deep navy color with constellations painted in gold. Orion looking down on the celebration below. Ash noticed a couple with sparklers dancing in front of the ballroom window.

Ash stepped outside.

The cool grass surrounded his slippered feet.

A crowd had gathered at a large canvas circle that lay under a metal canopy. A man in tight fitting trousers sat at the top bound by red silks. The aerialist spun and tumbled down along the silks. The glow of several paper lanterns showed his muscled arms and chest. Some on lookers gasped as they watched the man in silks defy gravity.

A woman wearing nothing but bloomers, a corset, and dragonfly wings ran past him. A woman juggling clear glass spheres grabbed Ash’s attention. Ash following the juggler into the garden labyrinth.

The music faded as he followed the maze path searching for a vacant bench. Finally, after several incorrect turns, he found what he was looking for. He set the soups down and removed the donkey head before sitting down. He brought one of the small bowls to his lips to take a sip when he heard movement.

He stilled.

It was a joy to write this tale and see the memories that Ash and Simon create during this enchanted summer evening.

The Men of Summerly

Tradition is as quaint tradition does.

So thinks British trade envoy Simon Leatherby as he settles into his temporary home in the mountains of Stubborn, West Virginia, to negotiate an equitable export trade agreement. As the guest of honor at the annual Midsummer Night’s Dream Costume Ball, Simon is charmed by the beauty of this rugged country and matchmaking townsfolk, but only business is on his mind.

Ashland “Ash” Gottschalk, a sweet tempered glassblower, is caught up in a horrible set of circumstances, no thanks to an evil manager and his two wicked assistants heaping abuse on all the downtrodden workers of the Pantoufle Glass Factory. With a clever plan, borrowed items, and a touch of magic, Ash’s friends transform the kind cinderfella into a proper gentleman for one stolen evening at the ball.

A chance meeting at the celebration turns into a magical evening to remember as Ash and Simon meet their match. When the clock strikes midnight and the mysterious Ash disappears as suddenly as he appeared, Simon moves heaven and earth to seek out the keeper of the glass trinket left behind on that starry night.

Will Simon find his ‘prince’ before time runs out or will the evil management’s last cruel trick destroy his happy ending with Ash?

Buy: The Men of Summerly (A Sweet & Steamy series Book 2)

AuthorPicAuthor Bio:

Nikki Woolfolk grew up with her southern father’s good cooking and tall-tales and her mother’s science fiction loving influence early Silicon Valley. In 2013, a friend challenged her to mix her two loves, science and writing, to create a romance novella. Considering herself more nerd than a romantic, Nikki wrote her version of a romance in which she gets to “have a parkour chase scene, blow sh*t up, and make sure the good guy and gal get the girl” with food on the side when the adventures work up an appetite.

Nikki lives in New England with her son and her partner and is working on the next book with more original recipes for the Steampunk Romance Sweet & Steamy series. For more details go to her blog: thedrunkenmousse.wordpress.com or find her on Twitter!

Review: Avalon Revisited by O.M. Grey

Avalon Revisited by OM GreyReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Vampires in fiction can be from any time period, newly made; older than time itself, but Arthur Tudor is one of the older kind who has hidden his vampire existence from the public for many long years. While on an airship, he meets a vampire slayer to be just too good to pass up, Avalon, and together they make the steampunk equivalent of Holmes and Watson in order to find out the murderer who stalks the streets of Victorian England.

Arthur delights in telling his victims his true Tudor lineage before he takes their lives as he is a real descendant of Henry Tudor, and sees nothing wrong it them knowing who he really is, though it’s not exactly great that he has to keep it secret from the living. To them he is known as only Lord York.

Avalon Revisited is full of the usual courtesy and drama associated with period romance novels, but this lifts the dress and the petticoats of this Victorian erotic story with Arthur acting as rake, and saviour for all women. Unlike most vampire stories, Arthur can be seen in a mirror, though in this particular story, his reflection fades with each century that passes, and he also reveals another secret to the reader, that he was once Spring-Heeled Jack, the terror of Victorian England. His reason for not continuing his scourge on the women there was simple, once a kill on sight order was put out; he felt it necessary to stop his killings.

Arthur is captivated by Avalon and like him, she has a mystery surrounding her name she attributes to having a father obsessed by Arthurian legend. As she has “spunk” as he puts it, he is very much interested in her, and takes it upon him to be around her for most of the journey. It takes a while, but Arthur gets to be alone with her, and that is when the fun starts. Along the course of the novel, we meet Nicholas, a friend of his with similar tastes in women, though he prefers them younger and less restrained in a marriage. Arthur dodges and weaves around the women who would hamper him from talking to Avalon, who he finds most interesting in conversation. She finds him the same, and wants to be with him, and this makes the story more of a tease rather than a standard erotic romp as readers are made to wait before being satisfied – and it’s not bad to have your desires fulfilled after a long while.

Avalon Revisited is filled with rakes, rakehells and a dashing number of loose women – it’s perfect for those evenings when you want to be huddled in bed, but are still awake and need an excuse.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Avalon Revisited

Illuminist Society Fact or Fiction?

ALadyCanNeverBeTooCuriousGuest blog by Mary Wine, author of A Lady Can Never Be Too Curious

Hello Everyone!

My newest baby…okay, book, is ‘A Lady Can Never Be Too Curious’. It’s my first Steam Punk Romance and it was a delight to write. What’s a Steam Punk? Are you hearing the gene but a little unsure if it’s for you? Well the short definition of Steam Punk is Victorian Sci-fi. ‘A Lady Can Never Be Too Curious’ is without a doubt a good historical read. What makes it a Steam Punk is a secret society which I call the Illuminist.

The Victorians did love their secret Orders and societies. The Masons, Eastern Star and a load of other societies began or flourished during these times. I’ve always loved historical costume and the recent rise of Steam Punk fashion got me to thinking about creating my own secret order. In this case, the Illuminist. They focus on science and learning but what makes them unique is that gender is not a reason to be denied membership. All that matters is if you have the intelligence to pass their entrance exam.

Of course, since we are talking about the Victorian world with all of its strict rules, this is a bit of an eyebrow raiser. In fact, the Illuminist do not mingle with the upper crust of society which makes it a real difficulty for my heroine to indulge her fascination with the order and its handsome head of security.

But as I said, this is a great Romance too. In spite of their attempts to resist one another, my hero and heroine are set to collide with one another. My heroine is finally discovering a place where she can be herself, without hiding behind the demure behavior the upper crust demands of young ladies.

I was asked if the Illuminist were real. No, they are a facet of my imagination. A journey into the realm of ‘What if’.  As much as I adore history, I am grateful to be living in a time when I can benefit from the struggles of my female ancestors. The right to vote, to sit on a jury, to serve in the Military, to have my own pay put into my hand and not my husbands. The right to bear witness in a court of law and to own land. To read the books I want to and of course, to write down the wild imaginings of my mind. I created the Illuminists as a place my sisters from ages gone by might have loved to have and in doing so, I’ve also given Steam Punk readers an excuse to wear more fun clothing.

Because it’s all about the clothing!

And the story!

Cheers! Stop by my FaceBook author page to see what I’m up to next. The follow up book will be coming your way in May of 2013 and it’s called ‘A Captain Can Never be too Bold’.

Mary Wine
MaryWine.com

Buy: A Lady Can Never Be Too Curious

Review: A Clockwork Fairytale by Helen Scott Taylor

Reviewed by Lynn Reynolds

This is book 1 in the “Sorcerers of Arco” series.

We see Melba trying to escape from being captured. Master Turk appears to be a Robin Hood of sorts. Mel wants to pledge her service to him. He’s impressed by her skills but doesn’t realize that not everything is as it appears.

They have Jinn that inhabit their world. Master Turk has an Earth Jinn that tends his plants. He also has a very smart housekeeper, Gwinnie. No one can pull anything over on her – not even Mel.

Gwinnie is someone you need to get used to. She’s very gruff and brusque. She is a character that takes some getting used to. She also appears to hate Mel – and why is that. You’ll have to keep reading to see if that ever changes.

For some reason Melba wants to be a spy and she feels that Master Turk can do that for her. He also has some special abilities – he can track people and listen to their thoughts just by them having a special stone. If you had that kind of ability, whose thoughts would you want to listen to?

He wants Mel to start acting like a girl instead of the boy he was raised to be. We have to wonder what his motives are. You’ll just have to read the story to find out. We watch as Mel grows into a young lady and that includes the feelings that go along with it.

If you’ve watched the Mummy movies, there is a scene that just reminds you of some of the creepy scenes – it will make you shiver. It definitely makes it a different type of fairytale. Very different from the fairytales that I grew up with.

Vittorio seems to be the evil in this story. He wants to be king and will do anything to make that happen. He also knows how to change his looks that can fool people. He feels that Turk is getting in his way of getting what he wants. How does he accomplish this? This is what will keep you reading – you need to have this question answered.

You’ll need to read this book as a fantasy and not as a romance. If you are looking for a sexy fairytale, this book is not it. There are plots and twists in this tale just like a suspense novel. We have questions that need to be answered – what will happen to Turk, Dante, Vittorio, and Melba? Will good overcome evil? Will we ever see Turk and Melba fall in love?

If you are a softhearted person, this story may not be for you. Even I cringed at some of the cruelty written into the storyline. You will be surprised at how the story ends. This is what will draw you in to reading the second book.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: A Clockwork Fairytale