New at Changeling Press: The Ambrosia Directive by Mikala Ash #steampunk #romanticsuspense @ash_mikala

The end is nigh. It’s all or nothing! Elizabeth Hunter-Payne has been abducted by her archnemesis Vladimir. Lucius, his patchwork man, a chimera assembled from body parts of the dead, “rescued” her from a sham charge of murder.

Now a pariah, separated from everyone who cares, Elizabeth finds herself in a luxury country estate where the gentry throw off the shackles of convention and consume copious quantities of an aphrodisiac called ambrosia and participate in salacious shenanigans involving wanton servants, well-endowed sex machines, and a familiar doppelganger. All provide cover for Vladimir as he advances his ultimate plot: to destroy the empire and possess Elizabeth body and soul.

Save 15% at Changeling Press

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2021 Mikala Ash

My New Home
April 1860

I dreamt of the realm of love.

It is a wondrous place not found on any navigator’s chart or cartographer’s globe. It is a strange land founded on the extremities of human emotion, bounded only by imagination and endurance, lapped by limpid oceans of joy, contentment, and safety, harried by turbulent seas of jealousy, despair, and disappointment. We are blessed if we can but visit this arcadia where colours are overbright, fragrances are both fleetingly delicate and ferociously evocative, and a mere touch is the fuse that ignites explosions of exquisite sensation. Doubly blessed are those fortunate enough to live their whole lives within its shimmering borders.

I was riding in this strange land beside my dear husband Jonathan as he was before he left for the war. He and I rode through this perfect dreamscape on horses of infinite grace and swiftness, not knowing we were but visiting, and our time here short. Beneath a cerulean sky, and over undulating hills of verdant green we rode, laughing and urging each other on. Faster and faster we went, the wind rushing through our hair, raindrops stinging our cheeks.

Jonathan and I were fresh from making love beneath the overarching limbs of weeping willows on the banks of a looking-glass lake. Our sweat had dried, our pulsing inner muscles relaxed, the delicious languor replaced by bursts of playful energy. We’d indulged in tickling and wrestling, and, of course, kissing. Diamond drops falling from our leafy ceiling heralded a spring shower, so we had dressed swiftly and took to our glorious steeds.

As if by magic two others glided in and joined us. Felix was the first man I had made love to after Jonathan’s death. His was a beautiful soul, and it was he who had reawakened my sensuality, and taught me how to break the shackles of convention.

Then came Baudry, Dr. Jack Baudry, an honourable man who like me was an Agent of Her Majesty the Queen. He had said he loved me and had proved it, risking his life for me time and again. I deeply regretted our parting. Pride and jealousy had tainted my heart. But this was no time to think of that final argument. It was much better to remember our passionate lovemaking on the rug in front of his fireplace, the flames warming my flesh outside, his tongue setting me alight on the inside. It was marvellous to see his handsome smiling face.

Surrounded by the three men who had kissed my heart, I was exultant, my blood pumping and my soul singing. I could ignore the grim reality that Jonathan was dead, Felix had been beaten to an inch of his life, and Baudry, wonderful Baudry, was lost to me. In my dream the four of us rode on, carefree and laughing.

Oh, the joy! The thudding of hooves over the soft grass, the rapid breathing of the horses, the jangling of the bridles and stirrups, and the sweet laughter of my gallant husband by my side. We approached a hedgerow, and I turned a mischievous eye to my darling, and with a saucy wink urge him to jump with me. I catch but a glimpse of a little man who abruptly stands, emerging from the shadows like some malicious goblin. My horse screams and shies in surprise, rears up to pummel the creature with its hooves, and I am unseated, light as a dandelion flying through the blue until the green rushes up to meet me, and all goes dark.

“Elizabeth?”

I opened my eyes. “Jonathan?”

He gazed down at me, his beautiful eyes clouded with loving concern, the fine planes of his face creased with anxiety. With one hand he pressed a damp cloth against my forehead, and with the other squeezed my fingers. His touch was warm and reassuring, and my heart commenced to gallop.

Jonathan? My darling Jonathan? I see him, but how could this be? Something is wrong. This cannot be. I tell myself this is a lie.

My Jonathan is dead, his body mouldering these five years in the muddy battlefield of Sebastopol.

Yet Jonathan continued to tenderly caress my forehead. I screamed.

“Elizabeth. Do not be afraid. It is I. Nathanial Royston. Your brother-in-law.”

“Nathanial?”

Nathanial Royston. The doppelganger. My beloved husband’s twin, parted from his brother as a newborn, and taken to a new life in India. For a moment confused images from Grove Hall Asylum filled my mind. I had been looking down at a photograph I had plucked from the hand of a monster. The bloodied image showed a man resembling my dear husband sitting in a madman’s laboratory, smiling at Vladimir, the Russian agent responsible for Jonathan’s death. I had assumed from the start the picture to be of Nathanial and not my husband, the photograph just another sick antagonism by the obsessed Russian.

I screwed my eyes against a throbbing headache. “Nathanial?”

“Gently now, sister. You have been unwell.” He puffed up a pillow and gently placed it behind my head.

“I have?” I looked around me. I was enveloped in silken sheets and soft woollen blankets, surrounded by luxury. The bed, a velvet-draped four poster was a bower within a sweetly scented room that was crowded with tall-backed chairs and Oriental style screens. Atop a dressing table where coloured perfume bottles glinted, was a gilded mirror reflecting the cool yellow light of the lamps. Wine-coloured velvet curtains fell from ceiling to floor. A comforting blaze in an ornate fireplace cast the room in a warm golden glow.

“Where am I?” I said, my voice husky and dry.

“Somewhere in England, the country, but where I cannot say.” He filled a glass from a crystal decanter on the nightstand and brought it to my lips. “Here, drink this.”

The golden liquid emitted a luscious aroma that was thick and sweet. “What is it?”

“Ambrosia. It will refresh you.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aussie Mikala Ash used to be a mild-mannered training & development consultant by day, and a wild sci-fi and paranormal adventure writer by night. Now she is a brazen full-time writer and nature photographer who is concentrating on having among other things, “… bags, and bags of fun!” Mikala can be found on Facebook and on Twitter.

New Release: Looking Glass Foes by Mikala Ash #steampunk #romanticsuspense @ash_mikala

Could the handsome Peter Smythe be the one? Elizabeth is mightily attracted to the dedicated and brave journalist and faces the struggle of balancing her duty to save the empire with nurturing a budding relationship.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth is on the brink of finally bringing her arch nemesis Vladimir, the Russian agent responsible for her husband’s death, to justice. But the past has a habit of nipping at her heels and with it the risk of bringing everything she has achieved crashing down.

Set against the backdrop of a steam-driven world, our story begins with an airship-led commando raid and takes Elizabeth along a twisted path of betrayal and villainy.

Get it Today at Changeling Press

Preorder for July 2nd at Online Booksellers

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2021 Mikala Ash

The general and I were standing on a raised platform by the East London Water Works, a half mile north of Grove Hall with the railway between. I gasped in wonder as the airship restarted its engines to combat the wind and maintain its position over the asylum. Tiny shadows emerged from the airship’s grey hull like ants hurrying from their nest. The dozen members of Her Majesty’s Royal Aerial Marines took to the ropes and descended with consummate skill toward the sleeping asylum. It took them no time at all to reach the sloping roof, and a dozen heartbeats later the uppermost windows of the institution’s main building.

While the airborne assault had been making its indefatigable progress, elements of the Queen’s Light Infantry, with silent efficiency, barricaded the surrounding streets and encircled the asylum, while specialised ground forces made their way across the darkened grounds ready to breach the doors at zero hour.

The general checked his watch. “Only a minute now.”

The enterprise had taken the general an amazingly short time to arrange. Of course, the military had been in a state of readiness for months given the threatening situation across the channel. Russia was ever threatening after the humiliation the Czar had suffered in the Crimea, Napoleon the Third of France was in an expansive mood after his success in the same conflict, and the Austrian Empire was mobilising, watching our global trading empire with envious eyes and dreaming of world domination. The prospect of all-out war had been building like a storm cloud, and the expected deluge would be heavy indeed.

Such was the backdrop of our world in 1860. It was only the scientific and technological advances such as the airship Prince Albert that we had made over the last decade which kept our homeland and empire safe. Our ambitious competitors were catching up. However, their endeavours had taken a darker turn, as evidenced by the horror of the patchwork man, and the use of soporific gas that could confuse and render harmless a whole city.

Vladimir was just one of our malevolent foes. The question this morning was how violently would he and his murderous minions resist capture? I said a silent prayer for the Queen’s men risking their lives tonight. I had brought them here, and I would bear responsibility for whatever happened. That was a heavy thought indeed.

Butterflies, the flighty children of fear, skittled about in my belly causing me to doubt the success of our enterprise. For reassurance I glanced over my shoulder. Standing behind the general and I were men on whom I placed the greatest of trust. Felix, who helped Archie at my Investigations Bureau, but was much, much more, and my fellow Agents of the Queen, Bisby and Oxley.

Missing this momentous morning was Archie, my husband’s batman, and the son we never had. He was at home caring for Marianne, his fiancé of only a day. Brave Marianne had been instrumental in bringing us to Vladimir’s den, risking her life and had, for her impetuousness, been held hostage by a patchwork man. Not surprisingly she was having trouble dealing with the horror that had so nearly cost her life, her exhausted sleep racked by night terrors. Archie chose, and rightfully so, to remain at her side.

Felix, his handsome face hidden by the upturned collar of his coat and scarf, noticed my gaze, for I saw his gleaming teeth as he offered me a supportive smile. My body responded instinctively. How often had he given me that smile as he lifted my body to the heights of sensuality with gentle and expert caresses I could not tell. His natural allure, together with the skills gained from his experience as a prostitute, had attracted me like a flower lures a bee.

My first sight of him had ignited the dormant woman within, as if my true self had fallen into a sort of death with Jonathan’s passing. For five years I had been a walking corpse, cold and withered, but with hot blood still bubbling deep within, demanding expression. Felix possessed the key to its release. Meeting him had been a striking revelation. I immediately longed to have his arms about me, desired his lips upon mine, needed his fingers stroking my flesh, and demanded his hardness within. Though I felt guilty, as if I were betraying Jonathan with this almost uncontrollable craving, I hired Felix as my tutor in bedroom diversions. With tender care he resurrected my carnal nature. Though my desire was strong, he coaxed me out of my initial timidness and skilfully guided me, transforming me from cold widow into a true wanton, where I became the uninhibited leader taking us both to exquisite release. Though it had been months since our last intimacy I still longed for his sultry gaze…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aussie Mikala Ash used to be a mild-mannered training & development consultant by day, and a wild sci-fi and paranormal adventure writer by night. Now she is a brazen full-time writer and nature photographer who is concentrating on having among other things, “… bags, and bags of fun!” Mikala can be found on Facebook and on Twitter.

Preorder: The Tethered Goat by Mikala Ash #steampunk #murdermystery @Ash_Mikala

Hell-bent on revenge for the death of her husband, Elizabeth takes the initiative and sets a daring trap for Vladimir, the Russian spy she suspects of the deed. Meanwhile, Peter Smythe, a handsome and dedicated correspondent, is investigating the disappearances of street people in the docklands of London.

The discovery of a horribly mutilated body of one of the victims reminds Elizabeth of the horrendous acts perpetrated by the Whitechapel murderer known as the Collector. Elizabeth slew that monster, itself a creature of Vladimir, and she fears this is a new apprentice.

Sparks fly when Peter and Elizabeth come together, and they set off on a roller-coaster adventure in a fogbound steam-driven world. When the hunted becomes the hunter, Elizabeth is the bait!

Get it at Changeling Press

Preorder for May 7th at online booksellers

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2021 Mikala Ash

Alone at last.

I was sitting unaccompanied in a Cumberland steam-cab. By myself, without anyone to protect me.

It was a strange sensation after the intensity of the last few months. A return to normal, as it were, to a time before I began my Investigation Bureau, and before I became an Agent of the Queen.

A time when I had been just an ordinary widow.

“Ha!”

I pardoned myself for what was a small, but understandable, expression of conceit, for I’d given my protector, the ever-reliable Bisby, the slip. I forgave myself the sin of self-congratulation, so enamoured I was on the audacity of my cunning subterfuge. Sin or not, it had been a nice piece of work, using guile, disguise, and a certain boldness. I was still panting, and my heart still pounded with the excitement of it. Perspiration was running cold beneath my shift, and inside my button boots my feet ached appallingly. Despite these reminders of physical effort, the exclamation of conceit turned into a slightly manic chuckle, then into a full-blown belly laugh. Goodness knows what the cabbie perched above the cabin thought.

Today had been intended to be more practice of the techniques taught to me by Oxley, himself an Agent of the Queen, and assessed by the aforesaid Bisby, another agent. The two, posing as footmen, had been assigned to protect my household from the attentions of the Russian agent, Vladimir, a diabolical monster who I’d bested only a few months ago, when I’d killed his murderous slave, The Collector, who had terrorised Whitechapel with a series of brutal mutilation murders. Oxley could, I am certain, gain renown as a teacher, for I’d learned a great deal over the last few weeks. Tomorrow my skills in evasion were to be formally put to the test. The challenge being to evade Bisby for the period of one hour.

“Do you think I’ll be ready for tomorrow’s test?” I’d asked Oxley in a suitably tremulous voice, when he saw Bisby and me off after breakfast.

“We must crawl before we can walk,” he replied sagely. “Just remember what we’ve been practising, and you will do well.”

“I’ll try,” I said with a dash of uncertainty.

Of course, that was nonsense. I’d been ready for over week, so I took the opportunity of taking the test today instead, and not just for an hour. Bisby or Oxley had only themselves to blame, for I had given them fair warning with my dreadful overacting. I mean to say, pinched cheeks, fluttering eyelashes, trembling lips and a voice hesitant and pitched slightly higher than usual? I gave it everything. Proof that even the best Agents of the Queen can be the victims of feminine wiles.

Naughty of me, I know, but necessary, for it was integral to my grand plan.

To be strictly honest, I hadn’t thought it possible to evade the suffocating twenty-four-hour protection the general had erected about me. It seemed impenetrable, a forbidding brick wall a hundred feet high and a mile thick. As silly as that sounds, that’s the way I felt. Of course, a lady was never alone in public. She was either accompanied by her lady’s maid, a burly footman, a relative or mature female friend or companion, or, of course, by her husband. Such was the condition of women of quality, as we are termed in the year of our Lord 1860. Our virtue, and by that, I mean our reputation, was never safe if we were out in public alone.

Yet here I was.

Alone.

Admittedly the protection I suffered went even beyond what would be considered normal for the upper middle echelon of society. Whenever I left the house either Bisby or Oxley would be with me, disguised as footmen, a decadent luxury for a widow like me. At least they were not dressed in ostentatious livery as those working for the gentry. If those two professionals were not with me, I was with Archie, my late husband’s young batman during the Crimean War, who I considered the son we never had, and who now managed my Investigation Bureau, or with Felix, my former teacher of the erotic arts, a former prostitute and now assistant to Archie. If not with them then I would be in the company of Baudry, a doctor who had been intimately involved in my cases and had also graced my bed.

That was not the full extent of it. The general, my mentor, a confidant to the Queen, and commander of the clandestine force of agents protecting the realm, took it one step further. In addition to assigning Oxley and Bisby to watch from within my household, he also posted watchers over my house and staff. Thus there were eyes focussed on me all the time, unrelenting, and though invisible, the knowledge of their existence was like a heavy shadow from that imaginary brick wall, enveloping me, pressing in on me from every side, suffocating the life out of me. The general feared the eyes of Russian agents were also set fast upon me, ordered by the indefatigable Vladimir, awaiting his signal to strike.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aussie Mikala Ash used to be a mild-mannered training & development consultant by day, and a wild sci-fi and paranormal adventure writer by night. Now she is a brazen full-time writer and nature photographer who is concentrating on having among other things, “… bags, and bags of fun!” Mikala can be found on Facebook and on Twitter.

The Square and the Circle by Mikala Ash #steampunk #RomanticSuspense @Ash_Mikala

Cover Art by Bryan Keller

A murder at a séance. In an age of rationalism and science, spiritualism has taken hold of the popular imagination. At the home of Lord and Lady Summerhayes, a séance ends in a horrific climax — a man is drowned in ectoplasm! Impossible! But there’s nothing Elizabeth Hunter-Payne and her Investigation Bureau like better than to investigate an impossible mystery.

Victor Drake was at the table and tried to save the hapless victim. His smoldering good looks and irresistible allure take Elizabeth’s fancy, and her carnal desires are reciprocated. Together, can they solve the mystery? Another thrilling adventure set in a steampunk world of airships, steam-powered aircraft, and swords disguised as lavender umbrellas.

Get it Today at Changeling Press

Preorder for March 5th at online booksellers

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2021 Mikala Ash

Lavender Umbrellas and Death at a Séance

Tuesday, January 10, 1860

“A murder at a séance,” I repeated incredulously. “A séance? You mean ghosts and such?”

Lord Arthur Summerhayes was an elegantly dressed white-haired man in his early seventies. A military background I surmised, as he wore enormous and immaculately clipped side whiskers, made popular by troops returning from the Crimea. In his youth, and clean-shaven, I believe he would have been a handsome man.

“Indeed I do, Mrs. Hunter-Payne. I’m talking spiritualism, mediums, apparitions, spirit controls from beyond the veil, and communicating with the beloved dead. The whole battalion, if you have my meaning.”

I was taken aback by the notion, and I struggled for a response. I knew spiritualism had become a popular pastime lately despite this being the age of rationalism, and surrounded as we were by very real advances in science and engineering. Airships droning away above the city and steam-powered aircraft patrolling the clouds were common sights now, as were Cumberland cabs steaming along every street and thoroughfare. Submarines skulked beneath the waves, and automatons had even entered domestic service. The list of technological marvels was endless. Gone for the most part was the age of horse and carriage in which I had been born.

I’d read in The Times that after the war in the Crimea, and the more recent mutiny in India, both of which incurred such great loss of life, there had arisen an ever growing desire of the bereaved to contact their lost loved ones. Spiritualists, those purporting to be able to contact the spirits of the dead, had conveniently materialised to meet the demand.

Séances, as I understood them, were ritualised gatherings of people in a darkened room sitting in silence around a table, holding hands, awaiting a spirit to contact them through the auspices of a medium. For some it was an amusement; merely a parlour game. For others it was an earnest and sorrow-fuelled desire to contact lost loved ones. Newspapers made light of the pastime, ridiculing believers and taking particular glee in exposing frauds and charlatans. The church proclaimed it sacrilegious, no doubt believing the practice subverted their monopoly over the afterlife.

That was the extent of my knowledge and my interest. I understood quite intimately the emotional need of the bereaved to have some form of contact with their loved ones. My thoughts rested always with my late husband Jonathan who had been killed in the Crimean War. I had given the possibility of actually contacting him scant regard, thinking it slightly foolish whenever the thought arose. Though I would give anything to see him again, and know for certain he was at peace, I admit to being highly sceptical of the notion of mediums being able to accomplish the task. Jonathan lived in my mind, and in my dreams; an ever-present reminder of the deepest love and consuming passion I could ever hope to experience. I glanced at his portrait, and my longing for his company struck me like a blow to the chest.

“I need your help,” Lord Summerhayes said urgently. His face was creased in anxiety, his faded blue eyes pleading. “Or my wife and I shall be ruined. Not that I care for myself. I am old, ready for whatever is next. It is for my wife that I fear.”

“I’ve not any experience in spiritualism,” I said carefully, in case Lord Summerhayes was a believer.

“Devil of a thing. Absolute nonsense, of course,” he said. “But murder nonetheless. Man drowned by ectoplasm.”

Just in time I stopped myself from appearing particularly obtuse by repeating the unfamiliar word. I was aware, however, of my mouth hanging open and thought that I must appear quite vacuous.

His lordship continued. “In my own drawing room, would you believe. Terrible slimy stuff. Ruined the carpet. Dashed inconvenient.”

Until that astounding announcement my morning had progressed prosaically enough, though it did bring with it a touch of novelty.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aussie Mikala Ash used to be a mild-mannered training & development consultant by day, and a wild sci-fi and paranormal adventure writer by night. Now she is a brazen full-time writer and nature photographer who is concentrating on having among other things, “… bags, and bags of fun!” Mikala can be found on Facebook and on Twitter.

New Release: The Pronographer’s Apprentice by Lisabet Sarai #Steampunk #LGBTQ

New Release!

The Pornographer’s Apprentice

The Toymakers Guild, Book 1

By Lisabet Sarai

Steampunk Erotica, MF, MM, MFM, FF, etcetera…

70,000 words, 256 pages

Smashwords and Amazon KDP

ISBN (Smashwords): 9780463069967

ASIN: B08MWMZZGP

In prudish, patriarchal Victorian England, nineteen year old prodigy Gillian Smith finds a secret society dedicated to the erotic arts. She’ll need both her intellect and her physical charms to earn the permanent position she craves.

Inspired by a salacious catalogue found in her deceased uncle’s library, she applies for an apprenticeship with the Toymakers Guild. The Guild fabricates bespoke sexual artifacts for the private pleasure of select clients – an occupation for which Gillian, with her technical abilities and her lascivious temperament, is eminently suited.

The other apprentices, initially skeptical about a female engineer, become enthusiastic supporters once they’ve tested her erotic aptitude. The voluptuous Governing Director, and the dashing French journeyman likewise help expand her carnal repertoire. The final decision, however, rests with the reclusive Master Toymaker, who has been missing for nearly two years.

When an unscrupulous nobleman sets up a competing enterprise, he threatens not only the livelihood of the Guild’s members but their lives as well. Gillian hatches an audacious plan to entrap the villain, save the Guild, and leave the absent Master no choice but to grant her heart’s desire.

If you like steam punk erotica with a kinky feminist bent, you’ll love The Pornographer’s Apprentice.

Purchase Links

Kinky Literature – https://www.kinkyliterature.com/book/8424-the-pornographers-apprentice-the-toymakers-guild-book-1/

Amazon  US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08MWMZZGP

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08MWMZZGP

Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1053072

Barnes and Noble – Coming Soon

Kobo –  Coming Soon

Add on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55857159-the-pornographer-s-apprentice

A Life Long Love Affair

I’ve always felt an affinity for the Victorian period. I was wearing high-necked blouses with cameos, long flowing skirts, and lace-up boots in my teens, long before they were fashionable. (The corsets came later…!) With my long hair parted in the middle and pulled back into a bun, I could well have been one of the heroines in the books I loved so much.

I was also a science geek from my earliest days. I received my first microscope when I was five, and my first chemistry set at seven. I entered every science fair. In seventh grade, I won grand prize on a televised science quiz show.

So it’s hardly surprising I’ve become a devotee of steam punk. I’ve been in love with this strange meld of science fiction and Victoriana for as long as I can remember – long before steam punk even had a name.  When I was in high school, I devoured H.G. Wells and H. Rider Haggard, and shared a Sherlock Holmes obsession with my dad. Later, I marveled at Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age and more recently, I discovered Gordon Dahlquist’s incredible The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters

I’ve written a number of steam punk short stories for anthologies, as well as a full length novel, Rajasthani Moon. All these tales, though, were set in Asia rather than in the British Isles. I think I was afraid I’d make errors my UK readers would notice if I tried setting a story in Queen Victoria’s home country. In my latest steam punk release, The Pornographer’s Apprentice, I finally bit the bullet and wrote an English steam punk novel. I had a lot of help with details from my critique group at the Erotica Readers & Writers Association, but of course I take responsibility for any residual mistakes.

I just hope you’ll find the story so exciting, you won’t notice them!

EXCERPT

Gillian stepped into a vast space, two storeys high, luxuriously panelled in dark wood. Excitement made her heart race. The place was like something from a dream.

Overhead, a dome of leaded glass bathed the room in daylight. At the second storey level, a semi-circular gallery followed the curving walls, reachable from a stair to her left. Arrayed on the wall to her right was a dazzling collection of pliers, metal snips, tweezers, wrenches, hammers, drills, clamps, vices, springs, glass tubes, rubber piping, brass flanges, hydraulic cylinders, coils of wire, switches and dials, gauges and meters—every sort of tool and part she’d ever encountered as well as many that were unfamiliar.

On the far wall hung parts of another sort: hands, fingers, feet, splayed thighs, open mouths, as well as phalluses of varied proportions. She could not determine the materials from across the room, though some of the models looked startlingly life-like. Her diligent studies of the catalogue suggested some might be fashioned of leather, others from India rubber.

Several large workbenches filled the centre of the room, each cabled with its own electric lighting fixture dangling from a rack above. Ian and Archie huddled together at the closest table, peering through a magnifier at a mess of wiring.

“Mr. Burns! Mr. Fawcett! Let me officially introduce our new apprentice. This is Gillian Smith.”

Archie looked up, startled. “What? You accepted a girl?”

“Provisionally.” Amelia frowned at the florid young man. “Subject to the Master’s final approval. Meanwhile, I expect you to welcome her, introduce her to our procedures and processes, and put her to work.”

“I’ll put her to work, for sure,” Ian muttered.

“What did you say, Mr. Burns?”

“Um, nothing, ma’am.”

The director stepped closer to the contraption on the bench. “Is this the circuitry for the Marlborough device?”

Ian swallowed. “Yes, ma’am.”

“And do you have it functioning yet?”

“Almost,” Archie volunteered. “Just one more small problem to fix, and we’ll be ready to test.”

“Indeed.” She scrutinised the web of copper strands for several minutes, then turned to Gillian. “Perhaps you can assist them, Miss Smith. They appear to be somewhat out of their depth.”

Apparently feeling that this was sufficient instruction, Mrs. Featherstone headed for the door, but she paused exiting. “I shall see you all at dinner. And I shall expect a full report on your progress. Do you understand?”

“Of course, Mrs. Featherstone,” the young men chimed in unison.

Gillian just grinned.

Ian and Archie wore glum expressions in the wake of Amelia’s departure.

“So what’s the problem?” Gillian asked.

“You know about electrical stuff?” Archie asked.

“To some extent. My father taught me the basics.”

“Main motor’s not getting power,” said Ian.

“Or else the motor itself is defective,” countered Archie.

“Impossible. I’ve built a dozen motors with this design.”

“Well, I’ve successfully wired at least two dozen dildos.” Archie grimaced in Gillian’s direction. “He does mechanical, mostly. I do electrical. How about you?”

“I have some experience with both types of work, though my speciality is mathematics and logic.” She stepped closer to the circular magnifier.  “Might I take a look?”

“Be our guest,” said Ian. “We are well and truly stuck.”

Under the lens, every detail of the circuitry became clear. In fact, the design was quite elegant, the layout logical and precise. She scanned the interwoven wires, focusing on their connections. In thirty seconds, she had located the fault.

“There,” she said. “Between pins fourteen and fifteen. The solder is not adhering.” Backing away, she let Archie look.

“By Jove, you’re right.” A smile lit his boyish face. “Thank you!”

“May I try fixing it? Just for practice?”  She added a bit of softness to her voice, a tentative quality that did not reflect her true nature. The last thing she wanted was to intimidate the other apprentices.

“Why not?” said Archie gallantly. “If you have trouble, I can take over.”

About Lisabet

Lisabet Sarai became addicted to words at an early age. She began reading when she was four. She wrote her first story at five years old and her first poem at seven. Since then, she has written plays, tutorials, scholarly articles, marketing brochures, software specifications, self-help books, press releases, a five-hundred page dissertation, and lots of erotica and erotic romance – over one hundred titles, and counting, in nearly every sub-genre—paranormal, scifi, ménage, BDSM, GLBT, and more. Regardless of the genre, every one of her stories illustrates her motto: Imagination is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

You’ll find information and excerpts from all Lisabet’s books on her website (http://www.lisabetsarai.com/books.html), along with more than fifty free stories and lots more. At her blog Beyond Romance (http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com), she shares her philosophy and her news and hosts lots of other great authors. She’s also on Goodreads, Pinterest, and  Twitter. Join her VIP email list here: https://btn.ymlp.com/xgjjhmhugmgh

New Release: The Inconstant Doppelganger by Mikala Ash #Steampunk #RomanticSuspense @ash_mikala

In a time of rapid technological change which challenges the roots of the empire, Elizabeth witnesses the impossible. The arrival of her late husband’s doppelganger takes Elizabeth Hunter-Payne to the brink of insanity.

Captain Nathanial Royston, late of the disgraced East India Company, claims he is innocent of the murder on the Great Northern Express.

With the coolly professional Miss Clayton at her side, our feisty heroine investigates three nasty suspects to get to the bottom of the mystery. While doing so, Elizabeth is faced with a cruel reality and comes to a decision that threatens her future happiness.

Another thrilling steampunk adventure with steam trains, miniature automatons, as well as guns, knives, and a handy half-brick in the reticule.

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Mikala Ash

What should one do when confronted by a ghost?

Deny its existence? Scoff at one’s own senses? Doubt one’s sanity? Or should one investigate, interrogate, and hopefully understand? Or as a last resort, threaten stupidly to shoot it dead?

A ghost stood in my library. Not just any ghost. But the ghost of my beloved Jonathan. I could not deny its existence. My senses told me the impossible with undeniable certitude, and I could not discount what I saw. It could not be — yet there he stood. Investigating the phenomenon hopefully leading to an understanding would seem the tried and true method. There, unfortunately, I was at a worrisome disadvantage.

A scant few moments before, I had been in the drawing room confiding my fears for my very sanity to my good friend the general after concluding, for the time being at least, the conspiracy of fear had been perpetrated by a Russian mesmerist known only as Vladimir. My exposure to the fiend had me questioning everything I thought, felt, and experienced. I feared being confined in Bedlam, the destiny of hapless wretches like myself, who believed their ability to tell reality from fantasy had been compromised. Was this ghost the proof that Vladimir had indeed sent me mad?

Before she fainted away, my trusted servant, Marianne, had interrupted us in a state of distress saying there was a visitor in the library. To affect her stolid character in such a fashion the visitor must have been most singular. I sensed then that something evil had invaded my home. I had rushed to my late husband’s library, and what I saw as I entered that formerly safe and comfortable room stopped me in my tracks. The sight unhinged me, stole the breath from my lungs, and chilled the blood in my heart so quickly that it seemed time itself had stopped.

A ghost. How else to explain what I saw? The alternative was to accept that I was indeed mad.

Unfortunately the cold fear had not frozen the multitude of panicked, confused thoughts which, like a crazed mob, ran free through the streets and alleyways of my mind, breaking and looting everything that was once solid and dependable. An image came to me… the creeping terror invading my mind was like the first winter ice on a country pond, which spread inexorably over my body and threatened to engulf my very soul. I knew with dread certainty that if the brittle ice cracked, I would slip into the murky depths of insanity.

There, illuminated by the firelight, I recognised in his impossible countenance all the familiar features: his strong well-defined jaw, his generous lips, the piercing gaze, and the close-cut hair. The room revolved around me. My head swam, the floor tilted beneath my feet. In my shock I had staggered backward against the doorjamb.

The impossible man spoke. “Elizabeth?”

I heard myself mutter a single word. My first step onto that ice-covered pond. “Jonathan?”

Was I to crash through that thinly spread ice and drown in a madness of my own making? One last rebellious kernel of logical thought remained at the centre of my brain. It boiled and bubbled in a frantic struggle to fight the impossible and keep me sane. That hot thought spilled over and inflamed every cell it touched until, like a volcano, it exploded. I became incandescent with rage and jumped back from the edge of that insane pond, determined the ice would not claim me.

Not today!

In the moment before the impossible man said another word I pulled out my Adams revolver, and pointed it at his heart. “You may have Jonathan’s face,” I challenged, “But you are not he! Identify yourself, sir, or God help me, I will shoot you dead!”

ABOUT MIKALA ASH

Aussie Mikala Ash used to be a mild-mannered training & development consultant by day, and a wild sci-fi and paranormal adventure writer by night. Now she is a brazen full-time writer and nature photographer who is concentrating on having among other things, “… bags, and bags of fun!” Mikala can be found on Facebook and on Twitter.

New Release: Conspiracy of Fear by Mikala Ash #steampunk #scifiromance @ash_mikala

Conspiracy of Fear (Elizabeth Hunter-Payne Steampunk Adventures 3)

There’s a bloody serial killer on the loose in foggy London, and music hall singer, The Songbird of Surrey, fears her best friend has fallen victim to the fiend. When her own fiancé, who she sent out to find her friend, goes missing as well, she seeks the professional help of the EHP Investigation Bureau to solve the mystery.

Intrepid crime fighter Elizabeth Hunter-Payne ventures into the dangerous streets of London’s East End and explores the seamy side of adult entertainment to confront the Collector, the terror of Whitechapel. His elusive puppet master, Vladimir the Mesmerist, is pulling the strings of conspiracy, and threatens the very foundations of the empire.

Elizabeth meets the ultimate automaton, Hercules, but what service can a metal man of cogs and gears perform? Guns, knives, and half-bricks come into play as Elizabeth fights for survival, and her sanity, in another thrilling steampunk adventure.

Author’s Note: Cliffhanger ending. Elizabeth’s story continues in Elizabeth Hunter-Payne Steampunk Adventures 4!

Get it at Changeling Press

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Mikala Ash

After my adventure on the airship Imperative, I decided to chronicle my now numerous adventures on behalf of her Majesty’s government. Due to the sensitivity of my activities I have instructed my solicitors to withhold them from publication until a century after my death. I suspect it is a form of vanity, an act of self-aggrandisement, another of my personal failings. I do intend to give an honest account, and because memory is at best an untrustworthy source and at worst an outright liar, I take copious notes at every opportunity to ensure my recollections of events are as accurate as possible. This tedious habit became particularly important to me given the strange case on which I was about to embark.

Following the deadly conclusion of the Torbernite Imperative my small household had undergone a substantial upheaval. I’d taken a monstrous risk to my reputation by installing the unmarried Felix Rider in the bedroom next to mine. On the surface my act is clearly one of charity, for Felix is an operative of my investigation bureau, and he had been wounded in the line of duty aboard the airship Imperative. During a life-and-death struggle he sustained a gunshot wound, a concussion, two broken ribs, a twisted knee, as well as cut and swollen knuckles.

It was a risk I was honour bound to take, for he had saved my life.

However there was another co-placating factor at play. In addition to his investigative duties Felix had agreed to be my tutor in matters pertaining to erotic satisfaction, a step I’d taken to reawaken my sensuality following many years of celibacy after the death of my dear husband, Jonathan. Felix was an able and inventive teacher. The palpable risk I took was that my physical attraction to Felix coupled with his proximity, would be my undoing, and that I would do something indiscreet, and be exposed as the laughable wanton widow so popular on the music hall stage. Embarrassed and ashamed, I would inevitably become an outcast of society, a fate, if I am to be honest, that was losing its power over me every day.

I placed him under the round the clock charge of two nurses, a cheerful buxom young blonde named Bramble, and the senior of the two, the authoritative and statuesque Hazleton. They were supervised by my family physician, the reputable Dr. Horace Wamburton.

As I have related elsewhere, Archie, my late husband’s batman, also shared my house. I considered him the son Jonathan and I were destined never to have. I’d unofficially adopted him after he had been seriously wounded in the Crimean battle that had killed Jonathan. Since the Torbernite affair he had been laid up in bed with a serious chill he’d earned while carrying out surveillance work in torrential rain. That left the responsibility of running the EHP Investigation Bureau to me. Every day after breakfast spent with Felix, chatting about anything and everything, and resisting the powerful urge to climb into bed with him, I’d go to the office feeling highly aroused and frustrated.

My body’s propensity to lust, or libido as my old Latin dictionary calls it, had never been higher in my life, and inevitably I succumbed to it. It was the eighth morning after returning from Edinburgh that I went to Felix’s room to wish him a good morning that my resistance fell. I entered as Nurse Bramble, the pretty young blonde was leaving the sick room, and we bumped into each other. As we performed a little dance to get out of each other’s way without disarranging my crinolines too badly I noted her creamy complexion was flushed, and though she wore her habitual smile, she uncharacteristically avoided my gaze.

Nurse Hazleton, the older and more sensible of the two, bade me good morning.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, indicating with my gaze the departing back of Nurse Bramble.

“It’s nothing, Mrs. Hunter-Payne. We nurses have seen it all. We don’t embarrass easy.”

“What do you mean?”

In turn I followed her gaze to Felix’s bed. He was still asleep. His handsome face, despite the bandages that covered the minor cuts on the left side of his head, appeared relaxed and untroubled. Then, with a sharp intake of breath, I noted that lower down the sheet was tented with a morning erection. I couldn’t help but put my hand to my mouth.

About Mikala Ash

Aussie Mikala Ash used to be a mild-mannered training & development consultant by day, and a wild sci-fi and paranormal adventure writer by night. Now she is a brazen full-time writer and nature photographer who is concentrating on having among other things, “… bags, and bags of fun!” Mikala can be found on Facebook and on Twitter.

New Today at Changeling Press #RomanceBooks #Steampunk #PNR #LGBT

The Turquoise Spider (Elizabeth Hunter-Payne Steampunk Adventures 1)

Elizabeth Hunter-Payne is an adventurous widow with time on her hands — a dangerous combination in Victorian London of 1859. Seeking excitement in a time of radical change, Elizabeth starts her own Investigation Bureau.

Armed with an inquisitive eye for detail, the capacity and boldness to ask obvious, if blunt, questions, and most importantly of all, her ability to keep her mouth shut, Elizabeth is quickly immersed in a case of kidnapping, smuggling, murder, and general mayhe

m. With guns blazing, steam-cars steaming, and clockwork automatons of a salacious nature going clickety-clack, can she save the son of a violent industrialist? Can she recover the priceless Turquoise Spider from the vicious clutches of underworld thugs behind one of Victorian London’s infamous Houses of Introductions?

The survival of the Empire may well depend on the fortitude, brazenness and deductive powers of the irrepressible Elizabeth Hunter-Payne.

Cover Art by Bryan Keller

Get it HERE

 

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A Midsummer Night's Demon (Fairview Chronicles 3)The son of the Lord of Hell, Lark, is engaged to a demon whom he does not love. He escapes hell, his father, and his fiancé. His flight takes him to the human plane, where he finds himself summoned by Chris, former lawyer and current accountant of St. John Investigations.

Chris really just wanted to learn about demonic math when he decided to summon one of the denizens of hell, but confronted with Lark, he decides getting the beautiful demon into his bed is far more appealing than accounting.

But Lark’s escape from hell does not go unnoticed, and soon the Lord of Hell himself arrives in Fairview to take his son back to the altar. Three wicked witches also come to the city looking for a love that was dragged to hell. It might just be one magical desk that holds the key to everyone’s happiness and happily-ever-after.

Cover Art by Bryan Keller

Get it HERE

 

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It Takes Practice (Doctor, Doctor 1)Dr Nathan Rey, general practitioner, has endured a case of broken heart syndrome for a handful of years and counting after his wild, bad-boy lover disappeared just before he received his license. Though it’s gotten easier — one or two flights of erotic fancy a year instead of every night — Nathan couldn’t say it’s gotten better. He still can’t forget the charismatic Fitz, and no one he’s met since then could begin to compare.

Still, Nathan’s certain he would someday stop daydreaming and move on. He would have found someone else. Filled the empty spots in his life, his heart and his home. His bed. That is, if his part-time nurse hadn’t eloped overnight. If, unable to find someone local right away, he hadn’t called upon the services of a temp agency. And if the nurse the agency sent to him, certified and licensed, had been anyone but Fitz himself, with far more than work on his mind.

Fitz means to convince Nathan seven years isn’t too long to wait for a second chance at the love of a lifetime. Love isn’t easy and it’s rarely simple. More often than not it takes practice. Lots of practice.

Publisher’s Note: This book was previously available at a different house. It is being republished as book 1 in a new series for Changeling Press.

Cover Art by Bryan Keller

Get it HERE

 

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Heat Strokes (Multi Author Box Set) (Heat Strokes Multi-Author 9)Eight sexy summer sizzlers to set the night on fire!

Lena Austin — Paws to Heal: Two were-dogs welcome the return of their former lover back into their arms after being enemy packs…

Alice Gaines — Banished: A sexy shapeshifter has one chance to seduce the woman he needs before he disappears forever.

Kira Stone — A Warrior’s Blade: The mysterious Phoenix is the embodiment of Kyros’ hopes and dreams… but who is he?

Isabella Jordan — Surrender Party: Better read between the lines of an invitation to a leopard male’s Surrender Party, hadn’t you?

Kate Hill — Mirage: Irresistible redhead Emilie is ready for action, but is this sexy stranger real, or a mirage?

Hunter Raines — Sanctuary by Fire: Can a scarred vampire find sanctuary in the arms of a human?

Lacey Savage — Silver Stray: This may be Lysali’s only chance to make her wildest erotic wishes come true.

Leila Brown — Fire and Isis: Kenneth Strong, aka Fire, is the one man who can match Isis Jones stroke for stroke.

Publisher’s Note: The short stories in Heat Strokes Multi Author Box Set have been previously published.

Cover Art by Renee George

Get it HERE