Katie MacAlister’s Steamed, a so-called steampunk romance being released today. The main question lies, is Steamed such a book that may jump start steampunk for the romance genre that so many have been waiting for?
If Steamed is any inclination, I would have to say no. This is set in an alternative universe with a post World War II feel rather then a Victorian steampunk type setting. There’s a grating amount of times the term “steampunk” is mentioned by the characters, as well as Katie making sure to tell and show in great detail these specific things that must make it so. Honestly, if you take out these very precise rules that make steampunk what it is, what you have is a historical alternate world where the hero and heroine team up to save their country from the enemy. But hey, we have flying ships that run on steam, so this must be a steampunk, right?
Steamed begins in present day 2010, where Dr. Jack Fletcher, a nanoelectrical systems engineer, who has reputation of being a wild ladies’ man. This is so far from the truth, mainly because the rumors about him being compared to an Indiana Jones like hero are false. Jack just happens to be at the right place at the wrong time, and through these bizarre circumstances, he has become larger than life. He’s more comfortable working in his research lab and listening to part steampunk, part goth and part industrial music. By the way, this combination of music sounds like it would be quite painful on the ear drums. And get this- Jack is a Friend, or better known as a Quaker. (I have visions of Indiana Jones meeting the movie Witness, which coincidentally stars both Harrison Ford).
Jack loves everything to do with Steampunk. And he’ll soon become lost in that world he loves so when his sister Hallie comes to visit him at his office and touches something she shouldn’t. She spills a canister full of liquid helium all over an electrical system that sends her and Jack through a portal into another dimension. They end on the airship Tesla under the command of Captain Octavia Pye. Octavia thinks Jack and Hallie are spies, which if they are, may ruin her maiden voyage. There are several female captains in the Southampton Areocorps, but this is the first time Octavia has ever commandeered an airship. There are very important reasons why Octavia must be successful and arrive safely in Rome. Not only does she have to worry about the revolutionary group known as the Black Hand, and their leader Etienne Briel, who she was intimate with, but also the Moghuls who are enemies of the His Imperial Majesty that Octavia serves.
You’d think Jack would freak out more, just like Hallie does, but he loves being in this world. He especially likes Captain Pye, with her luscious red hair and great eye catching chest, as well as her buttoned up dress uniform he would love nothing more to rip off. After Jack explains to Octavia and her crew where he and his sister have come from, they welcome them on board until they can find a way to return them to their own world. Jack is much like a kid in a candy store as he learns about the Tesla and all those wonderful steampunk type gadgets. He also gets to know Octavia very well, where he tries to make his romance reputation, a reality, but only with her. Everything is smooth sailing for Jack as he shows his redheaded captain different ways to loosen up, but then Hallie ends up missing. Octavia must help Jack find his sister before she’s hurt or worse, and stay under the radar of revolutionaries and the emperor himself who Octavia also has had an unfortunate past with.
Steamed was very disappointing. I really was expecting a romance set in a steampunk world. What I read instead was a slap stick, too silly to take serious, let’s fall through the rabbit whole because it will be too ha-ha for words. There was too much fluff, ridiculous amount of conversations and eye rolling action scenes that really didn’t keep my interest. Jack come across too immature for my tastes and his ease at being a strange man in a very strange world, where his main goal is to seduce the proper Octavia grated on my nerves. Octavia wears too many hats, as in, she has multiple disguises and really doesn’t know what she wants to in life. Not only is she an air ship captain, but a revolutionary in secret, who also has been in the beds of many high powered men. I couldn’t get a handle on her motivation for anything. She was also too unrealistic in the way she jumps into Jack’s arms, just because he is a good kisser and the main aggressor sexually. The final last straw that made me want to throw this book across the room is a major twist with Octavia and who she actually is and where she originally has come from.
The first person points of views jump back and forth between Jack and Octavia and the use of the letter “I” becomes very overwhelming and pushes you out of the story. In one paragraph alone, this figure of speech was used eight times. The silliness of the characters and the way they talk and act with one another was another annoyance, especially with Jack and Octavia, as their whole world is crumbling around them, they still have time to engage in a great deal of hanky panky.
I feel like I’ve been duped mainly because Steamed is not a straight up steampunk romance. Just because you throw in flying ships that run on water and steam or have a set of characters with Victorian values and beliefs, does not make it so. If you want to moan and sigh, but not in a good way by what you’re reading, Steamed may be for you. (Signet)
Final Grade: C+ *I almost came close to giving this a much lower grade, but I did enjoy the first 80 pages or so*
Other Steamed reviews across the internet: