This is my very first foray into a story with a steampunk theme and I have to admit being a little bit lost in some ways. In Geared For Pleasure we enter into the alternate world of Theorrey where old and new are combined in a very intriguing way. Told in two separate but related stories, we meet Queen Idony’s two shield guards, Dare and Cyrus who are the Queen’s Chalice and Sword; basically her protectors, confidants, companions; her right hands, so to speak. We follow them as they venture out in search of their missing Queen and realize that this is not just an ordinary kidnapping.
When Queen Idony goes missing Dare receives a somewhat cryptic message that tasks her to leave the security and comfort of Queen’s Hill to seek out a ship called the Deviant. Unfortunately, her very sheltered life on Queen’s Hill did not adequately prepare her for the world outside. She’s in awe of what she sees and as she’s taking it all in, she’s attacked, injected with a sedative and taken. When she awakens she finds herself on the Siren, a brothel of sorts-but all is not as it really seems. This is where she meets Bodhan, the Siren’s captain, who is very intrigued by the petite blue-haired beauty. As Dare gets to know Bodhan and the secrets of the Siren she realizes that he may be her only hope in her quest for locating the Deviant and fulfilling her mission to find the Queen.
Cyrus has been sent on many missions by the Queen over the years since he became the Queen’s Sword and he’s done them without question and always successfully. Until he’s sent to meet someone aboard the Siren to deliver a very important package, that is. While there he meets the fiery beauty, Seraphina, who is much, much more than she appears. Seraphina is Felidae and when she turns on the charm, no man can resist her, Cyrus included. In order to pay off a debt, she agrees to drug Cyrus so that the man she owes can retrieve something in Cyrus’s possession. But when Cyrus is kidnapped, Seraphina unwittingly becomes another player in the hunt for the kidnapped Queen Idony.
The first story starts out a bit slow and having not read a “steampunk” themed book before, I was a bit confused. It’s clear that this is an alternate world. It felt old with its descriptions of open markets, the clothing and people walking everywhere. At the same time, I was utterly fascinated with the very unique mechanized robotic bugs upon which Dare receives the message that sends her away from Queen’s Hill and lands her aboard the Siren. Additionally, there is a submarine type ship and a flying ship which I imagined to be kind of like a blimp but with sails-all things that are well known today, but are truly fascinating, though seemingly out of place as they are described herein in this world’s context. I found myself pulled into the world and I wanted more descriptions of these fantastical things.
Once we move into Fiery Temptations, we’ve added quite a bit of characters to the mix as they try to decipher the clues to Queen Idony’s disappearance. They are all really interesting and bring much to the story. Things really pick up here as we get a lot of information and learn some secrets. There is action, adventure and a continued sense that if they would just look close enough, all would be revealed. I was really pulled in to the storytelling here. Ms. Grace does a great job and her writing is very descriptive.
The one thing that didn’t sit well with me has to do with the some of the sex scenes. Yes, this is an erotic romance, but the sex should fit in. With Dare, I felt her jumping into bed so quickly and easily with Bodhan a bit unrealistic for a character who is depicted as sheltered and untouched. And there is a scene in Cyrus’s book where he and Seraphina are hiding in a closet and they start going at it. This one, especially, seemed unnecessary and gratuitous. In the case of Dare and Bodhan, other than their rush to sex their relationship as a whole was very believable. With Cyrus and Seraphina a previous encounter is inferred so when they get together so quickly after they are reunited it’s not as unlikely or unexpected.
The last 1/3 of Cyrus’s book is probably the best of the whole book and was really where I finally felt like I had a clue and understood what was happening. A lot of questions are answered and we get hints of possible storylines to come. Some of the secrets revealed, though, actually prompt more questions which totally frustrated me, but in a good way. The author leaves us teetering on the verge of satisfaction, but not quite getting there which I guess in some ways is appropriate for an erotic romance. She definitely left me wanting more. I’m not sure this was the best book for me to venture into the “steampunk” genre, but I really am quite intrigued now with this alternate reality with its old world feel coupled with new world inventions. This entry is really just a teaser and I look forward to seeing where the author plans to take us.