With the addition of the boarding party, the original combatants could make a hasty retreat, which they did. Laurel’s knuckles throbbed from repeatedly hitting the guy’s head. But damn. What a night.
Phineas stumbled out of the tavern with a man still attached to his neck. He quickly dispatched him with a knee to the outer thigh that looked even more painful than it must have been. Growling a curse, he shoved the man away from him, leaped the couple of stairs to the street proper. Lady Augusta and Carmina followed with a couple of crewmembers. Laurel was about to rush to them when Phineas roughly yanked her back by the collar of her jacket.
“All of you, go to the ship,” he panted. His eyes could have melted metal, she was sure. The scowl on him. “I shall have a word with her.” He gave her a rough shake.
“Hey!” As much as she tried to pry his hand off her jacket, she couldn’t. So huffing and puffing were basically her only remaining recourses, which she used copiously.
While the group ran away and disappeared into the churning crowd—no one seemed to care a fight had just broken out in the tavern—Phineas kept his fist on her collar and “drove” her forward one block. He turned left into a narrow alley that reminded her of Chinatown in half a dozen cities. Smells assaulted her. Cooking oil, wet wool and spices. People became sparse then nonexistent. Above their heads, wind howled through the jagged rooftops and the many protrusions.
“What the hell are you doing?” She grabbed the handrail on a passing staircase. Phineas didn’t even slow down, despite the obstacle. She grimaced and had to let go when the skin of her palm began to burn. “Are you out of your mind? Let me go. Right now. I’m not joking, Phineas.”
Sky appeared between the rows of decrepit buildings ahead. A dead-end. Laurel gasped in fright when Phineas released her only a couple of feet from a wrought iron fence that was the only barrier between her and an endless sky. She stumbled to a halt. Fog, steam and a timid glow from a faraway streetlight illuminated a long, long drop into darkness.
Phineas brusquely turned her around. “Do you know what you have done?”
“I wasn’t trying to do anything. All I did was—”
“I do not want to hear your excuses. You are an irresponsible, imprudent little—”
“Whoa. Wait just one goddamn minute. Nobody gets away with calling me names, I don’t care if you’re hot as hell in those fancy velvet pants of yours.”
He opened his mouth, snapped it closed. Did that a couple of times. Rage made his eyes into twin dark suns. “I should toss you over that fence right now.”
“Yeah, well, you keep saying that, don’t you. But when you have your chance, you do nothing. Just like yesterday night.”
His hands gripping her lapels and hoisting her to him effectively interrupted her good mad. Those lips she’d loved at first sight quivered as he obviously tried not to bite her head off. Or toss her into the void, as he’d said he should do. Laurel couldn’t control the flush of heat rising to her cheeks.
“You’re some hot when you’re mad.” Laurel chuckled at the expression on his face. Shock. Disbelief. Outrage.
Help her god, she was still drunk.
Phineas thought his head would explode with anger and frustration. What sort of woman would say something like this? Had she no preservation instinct at all? Was she that brash and unconcerned? For a moment he wondered what it would feel like to be this carefree, to act without forethought or very little of it, to just respond to stimuli and damn the consequences. Living life as though nothing else could touch him. Or act as if he did not care either way. He had never tasted such freedom. Probably never would. He had responsibilities. People depended on him. His crew needed him alert and sharp. Not bouncing from one crazy venture to the next.
In his anger, he had gripped her lapels and brought her close to him. So he could yell at her, shake some sense into her. He did neither. This exotic woman, this pale-haired stranger with eyes like those of the enemy could do this to him. Make him lose his legendary focus. Cause chaos where there was only order and discipline. But he, too, could rattle her. He pinned her against the wrought iron fence separating them from a long fall into the toxic sea at the foot of the city’s mammoth iron stiles. Only metals could withstand the corrosive effect of the ocean.
Laurel did not seem impressed. On the contrary, her eyes narrowed in what very much resembled lust. She returned his grip with two fists on his collar. “What are you going to do?”
Invitation or challenge. Or both?
The evening’s events, coupled with the previous day’s tragedy, mixed in his head, became a whorl of emotions and irrational urges. Chaos mutated into frenzy, numbness into oversensitivity. He could not stop the spiral.
Her lips felt tender and pliable—contrary to her personality—when Phineas crushed his mouth to hers.
She received him with a long moan through her nose. It spurred him on. Urgency, turmoil, pressure. The blade of white-hot lust cut into him. He curled his hips into her. Hard. Felt details on her garments like buttons and thick hems press into his belly and chest. Her stout and strong body molded to his. Not completely but enough. A direct representation of her character.
Stitching ripped when each fought the other’s garments. He wanted to feel her. Right then and there. Wanted to get his hands—his one good hand—full of her curves and hard angles. Wanted to feel her flesh make a home for his.
“Take it off,” she snarled in his ear. Tugged on his greatcoat.
She yelped when he fisted the front of her cropped jacket and yanked it open. Her breasts pushed against the too-tight shirt. She shared none of Miss Carmina’s slight form, even if the two were the same height.
He planted his gaze on her. “Undo it.”
She let her head rest on one of the fence’s rods. Eyes like blue stars and crooked grin like crescent moon. “You do it.”
He spared a hand so he could undo the first button. But she slapped it aside and yanked her shirt wide with both hands. Buttons clicked as they landed on the cobbles. A particularly thick patch of fog obscured their surroundings until only the two of them existed. From a faraway gas lamp perched high atop the closest roof, faint amber light graced her skin and made silver thread of her hair. Her gaze on his, she cupped her breast through the parted shirt. A crease appeared where the mound pushed almost all the way out of her underthings. A tantalizing offering. One he had no intention of ignoring. He dove for the exposed cleft between her breasts. Licked a long, hard pass up her throat before bearing down for another kiss. When she opened her mouth, he sucked on her bottom lip, held it between his teeth, released it so he could nip her jaw. But he could never be long with her mouth against his. But this kiss, he made brutal.
Action & Adventure, Contemporary, Fantasy Steampunk
Length: Novel Class
MSRP/List Price: $6.00
Our Cover Price: $4.00
Available Format: eBook
This is a race against time. Against oneself. This is the Vendée Globe, the most grueling race around the world. Singlehanded. No stopovers. On board is Laurel Benson-Desmarais, a thirty-six-year-old racer from a family of sailors. Five foot and a quarter inch of pure adrenaline junkie. One hundred and forty-seven pounds of thrill-seeking, motor-mouth, caffeine-addict of a woman who redefines the word “stubborn determination”.
Laurel’s venture starts admirably. Day one of the race sees her well in advance. Until the meteorological forecasts start messing with her patience. The mother of all storms is gathering speed. Heading straight for the race. For the first time in its history, the Vendée Globe is annulled due to bad weather. She’s worked years for this but has to turn the boat around. She’s not fast enough. The storm catches up with her, tosses the 60-foot sloop as if it were a bit of cork. Electricity crackles in the air. Spray hits her like rocks. Then as she pitches into a mountain-size wave, everything changes. The water, the very air. As if she crossed over to another world. Crazy.
Phineas Hamilton, captain of the brigantine the Brass Baron, never thought he would one day run into a woman who physically looks like the enemy, with pale hair and eyes, but yet is not one of them. The exotic prisoner is also the most obstinate, argumentative, confrontational…and fascinating woman he has ever met. He does not really care where she hails from and what brought her to his ship—no one speaks to him that way. And certainly not on his own damn ship! A lesson in manners is most definitely in order. But for now, he must make sure his crew and ship survives the latest enemy attack. They all depend on him. Another link to the long chain he carries.
To My Readers: Dashing pirates, odious villains and mouthy heroines fight for survival in this momentous steampunk story. I pulled out all the stops for this one. For those unfamiliar with this awesome genre, steampunk is a delightful mix of Victorian aesthetics and oh-so-shiny fantastical machines. If you enjoy a good historical romance mixed with an action ride that never stops, or a romance that will sweep you into a fantasy world of petticoats and steam pistols, armored dirigibles and floating fortresses, then FULL STEAM AHEAD is for you. Strap on your brass goggles, my lovelies, we’re weighing the anchor and hoisting the mizzen. Ahoy!
Posted by BookTalkAdmin | 8:00 AM |erotica, steampunk
Laurel Benson-Desmarais is an adrenalin junkie. We first meet her at sea racing solo during a storm and loving it. Lightening flashes, thunder crashes, waves splash(es) and she and her boat are hurled into an alternate reality. Before she even realizes she's in trouble, her racing yacht is hooked from above by, of all things, a dirigible. A sailor boards her boat trying to free the grappling hook. To make matters worse, the ocean appears to be corrosive and is eating away the hull.
Laurel manages to board the dirigible, but she finds out soon enough that the reality she's been dropped into is a world at war. Naturally, her rescuers are convinced she's a spy, and she spends the first half of the book trying to win over the crew and earn the captain's trust. The captain, of course, is a hottie, one Phineas Hamilton (your typical alpha with issues), which just complicates Laurel's life even more. Eventually they follow their libidos and the encounter between them is smoking. The waters do not run smooth, however, and misunderstandings ensue. Our intrepid hero must realize the error of his ways, save the day, and rescue the girl.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Phineas is kind of a boiler-plate alpha hero, but Laurel's character more than makes up for it. She's a great heroine: feisty, smart, competent, and likable. There are a couple of rough spots mid-way through the story, particularly in the slightly stilted conversations, but nothing that detracts from the reading enjoyment. There are a whole crew's worth of secondary characters that are just excellent, and the villains are brutish and dastardly--everything you expect a Victorian-era villain to be. The world- and character-building is very well done. One can only hope that Nathalie Gray will revisit this world and these characters to give us further adventures with Laurel and Phineas.