RELEASE BLITZ: The Courtesan and Mr. Hyde by Catherine Stein #historicalromance #Steampunk @catsteinbooks @RABTBookTours

Mad Scientists Society, Book 1

Historical Romance, Steampunk Romance

Date Published: August 16, 2022

Publisher: Steam Cat Press

 

 

Sometimes the path to true love is a walk on the wicked side.

Dr. Henry Jekyll has—almost—always lived by the rules. Hoping
to improve society by separating a person’s good and evil halves, Hal
tests an experimental potion on himself. When the drug lowers his usual
inhibitions, Hal crashes a high-class party, downs a strong drink, and
propositions a sophisticated courtesan. All in the name of science, of
course.

Calliope Finch needs only six more months as a glamorous mistress to earn
enough to open the library of her dreams. So when Callie meets the awkward,
bookish party crasher calling himself Mr. Hyde, she knows nothing can come
of it. Not when his curious charm and unfailing honesty come at the expense
of his bank account. All she can spare him is a kiss—and maybe one
night.

Spurred on by their unwavering attraction, Hal and Callie soon become
friends and scientific collaborators. But Callie’s list of potential
protectors is dwindling, Hal’s potion might not be the solution he
hopes, and a mysterious enemy is making mischief at every turn. With their
goals slipping ever further from reach, Hal and Callie must put their minds
and hearts to the test. Even if it means freeing sides of themselves
they’ve long kept hidden.

 

Excerpt

She needed to get back to work. Nothing could come of wasting her time
flirting with this mysterious party-crasher. No matter how intriguing he
was.

“It is quite the extravagant affair,” the man said. His gaze
fixed on Callie, sweeping up and down her body. “I’m glad I
came. Mr. Ackner’s stoves may be second-rate, but his guests certainly
are not.” Again, his face twitched a bit. Callie had the impression he
wasn’t accustomed to speaking so boldly. Perhaps the alcohol had
loosened his tongue.

She tried to quash her curiosity. It was time to move on. She glanced
around, seeking potential wealthy lovers. That bastard Hinsberg caught her
eye and gave her a wink. Callie quickly turned her gaze away. She could
overlook the fact that he was twice her age, but he was cold and cruel, and
that was entirely unacceptable.

She took hold of the party-crasher’s arm and steered him toward the
exit, telling Hinsberg without words she was otherwise occupied. The young
man flinched at her touch but didn’t try to pull away, allowing her to
lead him out into the hall.

“Are we headed to a private chamber for amorous purposes?” he
asked, a hopeful note in his voice. He thrust a hand into a pocket. “I
brought coins. How much do your services cost?”

Callie shook her head, trying not to laugh at his bizarre naivety.
“More than you have.”

“Oh.” His shoulders slumped.

Callie tossed back the remainder of her champagne and set the empty glass
on a decorative table in the middle of the corridor. Ackner could pay for
new furniture if it left rings. Her companion looked down at his own
half-finished drink, then shrugged and discarded it.

“Perhaps a small subset of your services?” he offered. “I
have…” He made a quick check. “Two dollars and
forty-seven cents.”

 About the Author

Award-winning author Catherine Stein believes that everyone deserves love
and that Happily Ever After has the power to help, to heal, and to comfort.
She writes sassy, sexy romance set during the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
Her books are full of action, adventure, magic, and fantastic
technologies.

Catherine lives in Michigan with her husband and three rambunctious kids.
She loves steampunk and Oxford commas, and can often be found dressed in
Renaissance Festival clothing, drinking copious amounts of tea.

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NEW RELEASE: Dream Gate by Mikala Ash #steampunk #SciFiRomance @ash_mikala

Dreams are magical. They make anything possible-passion, alternate worlds, even the death of empires.

Can love bloom where deadly danger rules?

After the attack on her home and family, Faerie witch Lady Carlyle is taken in by the gallant Captain Justin Quin. Together they investigate the sacrificial murder of a scientist connected to the defense of the British empire.

With the assistance of Dr. Keane, demon witch, Lady Julia Molyneux furthers her bloody attempts at redemption, while Lord Lucian Carlyle continues his obsessive quest to visit alternate worlds. At risk is the centre of empire, the teeming metropolis of London itself, where the innocent will pay with their souls the price of unbridled ambition.

Now Available at Changeling Press

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 Mikala Ash

Lady Julia Molyneux’s Diary

The border between pleasure and pain, it has been said, is hair thin, and one woman’s titillation is another man’s torment.

The man in question lay naked on the vast mahogany desk and whimpered in a most piteous manner. Like a wounded animal his nostrils flared with each fearful breath, though I believe his reaction to be premature, his ordeal had not yet begun. Spittle and white flecks of foam coated the gag that stretched across his jaw, and glistening tears leaked from his sad grey eyes. His struggles against the ropes that bound his hands and feet to the desk’s stout legs had weakened, but not before breaking the skin at his wrists and ankles. Crimson globules trickled rhythmically to the carpet keeping time with the fellow’s accelerated pulse. The metallic stench tickled my nostrils and tingled at the back of my throat. I licked my lips in perverted anticipation, tasting his fear.

The man, Dr. Ramsay Warren of Harley Street, catered to the highest echelons of society including the Queen herself. I easily understood why, for he was a fine specimen of masculinity. Clearly a sportsman, trim and muscled, his clean-shaven face tanned, his calves and thighs strong and well defined, his hips narrow and his stomach banded by muscle. Had I been so inclined, and if circumstances had been different, he might have proved an interesting bed partner. Unfortunately his current predicament did not allow him the opportunity to display his manly attributes to their best advantage. Indeed, the pink head of his manhood, terrified into timidity, peeked shyly from the thick thatch of black curly hair. Out of curiosity I stroked the wrinkled worm, and in response it retracted even further into itself, and all but disappeared.

I tut-tutted with disappointment and Dr. Warren’s pathetic whine became a hopeless drawn-out moan. Gone now was his arrogant challenge when first we entered his laboratory, the bluster of his deep imperial voice now a distant memory. Beside me, Dr. Ernest Neale, my partner in this appalling deed, recited the litany of the man’s crimes in a voice pitched unnaturally high betraying his own elevated state of arousal. This was his first sacrifice, and the zealous manner in which he embraced the ritual surprised me exceedingly. His usual demeanour, when fulfilling his role as alienist attending to the mental hurts of his patients, was one of calm and seemingly infinite patience, yet now the bulging eyes, the tight set of the jaw, and the saliva collecting at the corner of his mouth as he addressed our victim suggested a passion I’d not hitherto suspected.

“You bring deep and irredeemable shame to our profession,” he continued, his voice bordering on the hysterical. “You sir, are a venal swine!”

“Calm yourself, Ernest,” I whispered in his ear. His Christian name sounded unnatural. For months he had been wise Dr. Neale, the font of self-knowledge, who had provided me a measure of solace I’d not thought possible. Our recent intimacy had created a certain awkwardness in my mind.

He glanced at me and held my gaze for a long moment before giving me a slight embarrassed nod. He took a deep breath and shifted his eyes to look at Dr. Warren again as he continued in a more measured and slightly less feverish voice. “You willingly used your authority to commit six sane women to mental asylums so their husbands could access their fortunes. These women subsequently died after years of unspeakable degradation and neglect.”

Despicable indeed. Though to be honest I did not care about the man’s crimes. I had needed someone of importance in this world to sacrifice to my demon goddess. Tana was displeased with me, and I strove to mollify her. I’d meddled in the machinations of Sir Myles Stafford whose harassment of Lady Carlyle and her family had drawn in my dear Justin. I could not suffer him being hurt, so I’d asserted myself on her behalf. Tana, an ancient and single-minded demon, demanded her witches to deliver unto her souls sweetened by pain and fear. It was at Dr. Neale’s urgings, and my need to take a half-step in the direction of redemption, that I now offer up evil people rather than the innocents I’d sacrificed in the past.

Ernest’s recitation continued. Dr. Ramsay Warren, a relation by marriage as well as close friend of the Foreign Secretary, continued to wriggle uselessly within his bindings. At this point I’d have preferred him drugged and comatose, but Dr. Neale, Ernest, had insisted on him understanding why he was to die. It was a pointless exercise; the knowledge would serve no purpose. In the shadows at the corner of my vision Tana herself lurked, a huge warlike wraith. She’d responded to my summoning spell and waited impatiently to breathe in the man’s soul as it left his quivering body at the moment of mortal climax.

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.

Sojourn’s End by Mikala Ash #steampunk #darkfantasy @ash_mikala @changelingpress

London, 1861. In the fog shrouded streets, powerful magic stirs, and three tortured souls collide.

More than ten years have passed since newlywed Lady Carlyle used magic to save her unborn children, and every day she dreads the return of her demonic husband.

Linked by death, the gallant Captain Justin Quin and his troubled lover, Lady Julia Molyneux, are on the hunt for a killer. When their paths come together malignant forces of undreamt power are unleashed — forces that will shake an empire.

Available Now — Only $4.24 at Changeling Press

or Preorder for April 1st at your favorite retailers

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 Mikala Ash

A sensible man would have been lying between the luscious thighs of Lady Julia Molyneux, enveloped by her sensuous aura, breathing in her intoxicating scent, kissing her red pouting lips, and drowning in her unconditional love, not chasing revenge through the cold soulless streets of London.

Thick cloying tendrils of yellow fog, the city’s renowned “particular,” clung to my legs and followed me into Mistress Keene’s Fashion Boutique on Curzon Street. Euphemistically called an Introduction House in the latest edition of The Adventurous Swell’s Night Companion, the three-story building wedged between a respectable haberdasher and a reputable stationer was simply one of the thousands of discreet bawdy houses boasted by the heart of the world’s greatest empire. Like many other establishments of this type, Keene’s masqueraded as a successful business by day, a modiste in her case, to be transformed after the streetlights flared into an even more successful house of debauchery. It had the added attraction of an upstairs gaming room which supplemented its fleshly appeal with the fickle charms of chance.

The odious miasma, the unwanted and seemingly permanent feature of the city for the past few years, lingered billowing about like platform steam as the colossus of a doorman, a Cumberland automaton, slammed the oaken door shut behind me. Dressed as a liveried footman he was at least six inches taller than I, and broad across the shoulders. The men of iron were becoming more common despite the riots following the attempt on the queen’s life only the year before. Rumours of their involvement in the attack which left Prince Albert severely wounded and on his deathbed had inflamed the patriotic fervour of the mob against artificial men. Personally I didn’t like them. They had no aura, no colours pulsing around them reflecting their emotions for they had no feelings, nor a soul for that matter.

He turned to face me with his dead fisheyes staring right through me. I wondered what he actually saw. “Welcome, sir,” he said. His voice was deep and resonant, a recording of a famous actor’s voice playing on some sort of reel. I could hear the squeaking of the mechanism behind the mask that was its face.

As if by magic an artfully rouged hostess, thankfully human and wearing a silken nightgown that clung possessively to her natural hourglass form, appeared before me. Now here was life! Her aura was jumping from her skin, a roiling rainbow of colours that danced merrily about her, vibrating with mischievous energy. To her outstretched hands I divested myself of cape, overcoat, gloves and hat. I retained my ebony stick which housed within its stout shaft a silver-tipped blade.

The hostess deftly passed my trappings over to a pair of pale disembodied mechanical hands which reached out from between heavy crimson curtains. With a courteous smile, she appraised me with practiced eyes. “Welcome, my lord,” she said after assessing the quality of my attire. She offered a deep curtsey, providing a full view of her deep bosom.

“Not a lord,” I corrected. “Captain will do.”

She dipped her head. “Forgive me, sir. It is an easy error to make, for you have the manner and elegant bearing of the aristocracy.” The syrupy compliment rolled sweetly from her tongue. Her voice was unexpectedly cultured. I briefly wondered what chain of ill-fated events had led her to this place.

“May I fetch you a glass of champagne before introducing you to my friends?”

I let my gaze sweep across the richly decorated parlour taking in the dozen or so young gallants smoking and drinking beside the pianoforte. Several laughing girls in various states of dishabille cavorted about while singing The Tomcat’s Dance, a bawdy ditty currently popular in the music halls. My quarry was not among the group, and I returned my gaze to my attentive hostess. “Thank you, no.”

My response was met with an expansion of her aura, a slight purse of the seductively curved lips and a flash of anticipation in her bright grey eyes. “Perhaps you have more pressing needs?”

“My friend,” I said, dropping a sovereign into her palm. “He entered some minutes before me. A gentleman. Short, slim build, well dressed.”

Feigned disappointment was followed by a small nod of recognition. “Cards your fancy then, Captain?”

Cards. Of course. “Aye.”

“Upstairs, second door on the left.” Her aura quivered with an urgent pulse, and she gave me an encouraging smile. “May I serve you there, my lord?”

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.

BOOK TOUR: Shadow Bound Souls by Steven Rudy#steampunk #fantasy @MysticPeddler @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #ShadowBoundSouls #Books

For fans of The Wheel of Time series, Shadow and Bone and the Stormlight Archives!

We’re thrilled to share the highly anticipated follow-up to The Binding Tempest, Shadow Bound Souls by Steven Rudy! Read on for more details and a chance to win a signed hardcover edition of The Binding Tempest!

Shadow Bound Souls (The Luminance Saga #2)

Publication Date: February 1st, 2022

Genre: Epic Sci-Fi/ Fantasy/ Steampunk

Publisher: MysticHawk Press

Shadow Bound Souls, blends Science Fiction and classic high fantasy in a steampunk world.

The Sagean Lord has emerged.

While the Wrythen’s influence grows stronger, the Sagean and his power-hungry acolytes, the Court of Dragons, are intent on delivering the gem of souls to the Temple of Ama; where the Sintering Fountain can transform the acolytes into Luminaries.

Meanwhile, the band of heroes find themselves separated in a world starting to tear itself apart. Having suffered a huge loss, Ellaria and Elias must escape the Mainland with the Sagean’s agents pursuing them. When Elias becomes sick, Ellaria decides to hide amongst the Showman’s Traveling Show of Wonders. But their journey is shadowed by darkness and when troupe members turn up murdered, Ellaria struggles to find the killer amongst her company.

Far away in the Warhawk Mountains, the three young rogues are stranded with the Tempest Stone. Aimless about what to do, their paths take a turn when they discover the horrifying magnitude of the Sagean’s return to power, the Scree.

Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

A fog drifted amongst the looming masses of tents and travel-crafts. A man stepped from shadow to shadow with a blood-soaked knife. Ellaria could feel him stalking her, but she couldn’t see him. A slight disturbance in the grass, a crunch in the dirt, whispered of his position. But the sound was lost in the wind before she could locate its source.

Where had everyone gone, she wondered. The entirety of the fairgrounds was empty. With a lantern in her hands, she weaved around the trampled paths through the large field, the darkness of the night yet to give way to the morning light.

No matter where she looked, she couldn’t find anyone. She heard a sharp ringing sound from the caravan circle, and she rushed from around a carriage house to the center space.

At the center was a tall man with a top hat. The soft glow of the surrounding carriages provided only enough light to softly illuminate the fog and patches of the ground, leaving the man mostly disguised. He leaned slightly on a cane and his right hand at his side held a long-curved knife.

In succession, the lanterns started to wane and extinguish from behind him. Gradually, each light winked out of existence in a progression toward her and the darkness consumed the circle yard.

Her own light held, and she lifted it forward to see.

A sinister smile on the pale man was now only a few feet away. She couldn’t breathe. She tried to scream, but nothing came out. The man’s face appeared, and she almost recognized him, but his eyes were missing. Like they had been burned out of his skull.

“Hello, Ms. Moonstone,” he spoke in a smoky voice that sent a shiver run down her spine.

“Who are you?” Ellaria said.

“Don’t you know? Don’t you recognize me?”

“No.”

“What a shame, after so many encounters, too,” he said, and lifted the blade. A reflection appeared in the steel of a man she did recognize: Elias. And the pale man laughed. A dark mocking laugh that made her skin crawl. Her hand trembled and Ellaria threw the lantern at his feet…

Available on Amazon

The Binding Tempest

A fallen empire, a failed republic, and a frontier of alchemy, magic and machines…

They thought the war was over. That they had given enough, but when an oppressive empire falls, what comes from the ashes, is turmoil and treachery.

Ellaria Moonstone, an alchemist, and a hero of the Great War, has spent the last forty years trying to rebuild. An emissary for the Scholar’s Guild, her life’s work has been in establishing universities throughout the world. But as a former general that led the resistance in overthrowing the Sagean Empire, she has watched as all she fought for has slowly eroded away and with it, her faith in the republic. Now in her mid-fifties her singular focus has been to protect all knowledge for future generations.

When Ellaria is suspiciously requested to attend a meeting in the capitol city of Adalon, she quickly realizes something is amiss and the main governing body the Coalition of Nations may be compromised. When the Peace King of the Free Cities goes missing the plot to overthrow the tenuous republic takes shape, and Ellaria becomes convinced that the entity manipulating the fragile government is in servitude to a new Sagean Emperor. A Luminary with the powers to control energy.

Now the Coalition is intent on hunting down and capturing the man that defeated the last Sagean Emperor. The greatest hero of the war, Qudin Lightweaver. However, Ellaria’s old friend has not been seen in twenty years. With no one left to trust, she sends for help from old allies and expatriates scattered across the chaotic frontier. Once reunited, the aging veterans realize trust between old friends is not what it once was.

Three former war heroes, long past their prime and haunted by their pasts, are all that stand against a dark entity threatening the future. With the currency of souls is in the balance they find their destinies are entwined with a band of young rogues. Together they must stop the return of a dark empire. While each path to the truth is rot with peril, they discover the key to protecting the future resides in the mysteries of the past. The quest for a lost tomb ensues and the recovery of a relic from the time of the unknown ancients, called the Tempest Stone.

The Binding Tempest is the beginning of an immerse saga, of magic, alchemy, airships, and ancient mysteries. A new epic Sci-Fi and Fantasy series that is a classic High Fantasy Adventure injected with Steampunk science. For fans of The Wheel of Time series, Shadow and Bone and the Stormlight Archives.

Amazon

About the Author

Steven Rudy received a degree in Environmental Design and Architecture from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He currently lives in Colorado with his wife and three kids and works as an architectural designer on historic preservation projects and residential projects.

Shadow Bound Souls is his second novel.

Steven Rudy Books | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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Awakening by Mikala Ash #steampunk #romance @Ash_Mikala @changelingpress

Anne Device, daughter of a prostitute turned spiritualist, has seen it all — degradation, desperation, anger, pain, and sorrow. Unbroken by the rough and dirty streets of Whitechapel, Anne’s world revolves around her family — her mother, sister, and brother.

Enter the charismatic and attractive Lord Carlyle, a gentleman magician who sees in Anne the potential to move worlds. For the first time Anne experiences the magic of romantic love. A rags to riches story she’d only imagined possible in a Faerie tale.

On her glorious wedding night she willingly gives her body, but the days that followed will test her very soul.

Get it at Changeling Press

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2021 Mikala Ash

I await my husband.

My name is Anne Device. I am nineteen years of age, and this is my wedding night. Already I am in error. Is this the first lesson of my new life? That it is not possible to truly let go of the past?

My new name is Lady Anne Carlyle, the virgin bride of Lord Lucian Carlyle of Lancashire.

How grand that sounds. I whisper it aloud, over and over, hoping it is all real, and not some silly and impossible dream. I began this chronicle to quell my nerves, for truly, my hand holding the quill trembles, and ink drops litter the page like the footprints of a confused imp.

My husband, how strange it is to write those words, for they seem to resonate in my mind like the incantations spoken to create an earthquake or a tumultuous storm at sea.

My husband, my husband, my husband, my husband.

Indeed, what tremors will I soon experience in the marriage bed behind where I sit?

I read what I have written, and a strong desire has taken an irresistible hold. I seem compelled to record my new life so I can remember in my dotage what these times are like. The more I think about it I realise general sentiments will probably mean little to my future self. In fifty years will I remember the context? Probably not. With that in mind I’ve decided to keep as detailed a record as possible of my new state, and how it came about.

My husband, Lucian, is downstairs in his marvellous library. “Prepare yourself, my little dove,” he had said when his closest friends, a curious collection of serious men of science had left. “I return you to your mother’s care for a final word before you become Lady Carlyle in spirit as in law.”

Lady Anne Carlyle. I wonder if I should ever get used to the title, or indeed to people bowing and curtsying as I pass, as they did today at the church.

To think, ten years ago I was barefoot with dirty rags draped over my scrawny shoulders, with my empty belly growling like a wild dog while I hawked matches on the corner of Commercial and Fournier Streets in Spitalfields. Gone now from my life were the slums where my mama sold herself to soldiers and sailors in the cramped room that also housed my younger brother and sister. Jennet and James, both of different fathers, and both unlike me in nature and disposition. Fragile Jennet so meek and mild, and James boisterous and impatient. That James would turn to soldiering was no surprise. He saw enough of them to acquire their rough ways and wanderlust. The mystery was how Jennet and I remained intact. How my mama withstood the temptation to sell our virginity, for we would have drawn a goodly price, is testament to the fact that she has principles, though she disguised them well enough when dealing with her men.

How to explain my conversion from ragamuffin with dirt smudged on my hollow cheeks to a sweet-smelling young woman able to attract the love of a lord? Though seemingly miraculous, and I will not deny the magical quality of the transition, the reason is simple enough.

My mama loves us. Of that there is no doubt. No matter the countless difficulties she endured and overcame, she insisted on educating us. In between male callers and our jobs; my selling lucifers on the corner with Jennet shivering beside me, and James off running telegrams for tuppence a day, she taught us our letters and sums, and how to behave in front of our betters. I grew up on a healthy diet of penny shockers, and sensational novels published in serial form. My favourite stories were those rags to riches tales. I enjoyed them because they were so fanciful, and for a little time they took me out of the squalor that was my daily fare. Never did I imagine I would emulate my brave and virtuous heroines. Mama instructed me in other things denied to Jennet and James. Things I was ordered never to speak about, lest we all ‘end up dangling at the end of a rope.’ A rule I am now breaking, though none shall read this but my future self.

Though he does not know everything about us, Lord Carlyle is fully aware of our lowly state, Mama’s pitiful occupation, and what she had sacrificed for her children. We have hidden little of that time from him. It bothers him not. That is a miracle, and one for which I am grateful.

So much for that chapter of my life. That strange creature who bore my name is gone forever, and I now embark on a new story. I will awaken in the morn a different person. A woman.

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 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