I am a huge fan of stories set in a Steampunk universe, ever since getting my hands on The Parasol Protectorate series (which I highly recommend!). So I when I saw that Cleis Press Inc. had done few books of Steampunk Erotica, I was pretty much making grabby hands at my screen.
This is the first of the two books that they carry, Carnal Machines which I got through EdensFantasy however it has been discontinued to be sold there, but fear not is still sold at Good Vibrations! Needless to say, I made myself a very lovely bath that I thought was very fitting (one of mulled wine and warm spices) and settled in. Devouring the book in one good and very nice soak. The stories inside where not heavy erotica but things that made my imagination run away with some very wonderful thoughts after my bath!
The characters where well written and while they where all Heterosexual couplings, I was very happy to see at least two stories that had the lead as a female who wasn’t caucasian. While I do understand that most Steampunk stories tend to be set in places like the UK and the surrounding areas, as well as the United States even back then the world was a rich tapestry of people so it I really love seeing them being represented as well in Erotic Fiction.
Carnal Machines includes stories from the following Authors:
Teresa Noelle Roberts – Human Powered
Janine Ashbless – The Servant Question
Renee Michaels – Sleight of Hand
Poe Von Page – Mutiny on the Danika Blue
Kannan Feng – Devient Devices
Jay Lawrence – The Perfect Girl
Delilah Devlin – Dr. Mullaley’s Cure
Lisabet Sarai – Her Own Devices
Kathleen Bradean – Lair of the Red Countess
Elias A. St. James- italic|Infernal Machine]
Essemoh Teepee – Dr Watson Makes a Housecall
D.L. King – The Treatment
Tracey Shellito – Lucifer Einstein and the Case of the Carnal Contraption
Elizabeth Scecheter – The Succubus
If you are a big fan of erotica or Cleis Press, you will recognize a few of these writers. Espically the woman who edited the book D.L King who has also published stories in books such The Sweetest Kiss: Ravishing Vampire Erotica and Yes, Ma’am: Erotic Stories of Male Submission.
Carnal Machines is written for what could be considered a very narrow audience, that being fans of Victorian Steampunk. Each one of the stories is set that universe of sorts and deals with great machines being used for naughtier things then what you might find in any other Steampunk genre novel. While the stories might seem to follow a certain path, I found each of the ways they used the ‘machines’ created was creative and interesting in their own rights. So it didn’t end up feeling overly repetitive to me while I was reading each story.
First, Teresa Noelle Roberts’ “Human Powered” a female professor of “arcane engineering” from Wellesley College designs a mechanism to capture sexual energy in order to replace dirty, polluting coal – then tests it with the help of an old friend and colleague from MIT.
“The Servant Question” by Janine Ashbless gives us domesticated robots with a Victorian Twist. They are hand crafted and subject to a wide range of useful and unique customization.
Elizabeth Schechter’s dark, exquisite tale “The Succubus” presents an artifact with the intelligence and insight to not only satisfy a man’s perverse desires, but to intuit what they might be. And that is just a small handful of the stories with in the book.
For me, I also found the writing while not overly pornographic to be perfect for the settings that it was portraying, fitting into that more bodice ripper, Victorian type feeling that was just naughty enough to leave your cheeks blushing after you finished reading a story.
The book is done up with a soft cover that is pretty discreet in my opinion with a woman donning a Steampunk look on the front. I found that I was able to take this book on my bus rides to and from work with out anyone raising an eyebrow at what I was reading.
Though the book is a little bigger then what I like to carry in my purse, this would travel better in a backpack, messenger bag or purse of doom if you are looking to carry it with you for reading.
Being a fan of the Steam genre, this was a book that I couldn’t put down and even though some of the scenes where rather tame it never left me wanting for more because of how well the stories where written. It left me rather revved up after reading, and using my imagination to enjoy my own thought out scenarios after I had read a story or two.
I also really liked seeing characters in a few of the stories that where characters of color being that two of the stories features very smart and sexy Asian women.
Overall I give this book a 5 out of 5 rating, for being a great and steamy read that I can find myself able to pick up again and again.