Mecha Gladiator Bugs, Steampunk Romance Style

Lilliana Rose‘s CIRCUS ESCAPE (Less Than Three Press) came to my attention after discovering (via Twitter) a blog post by Sasha L. Miller. I left a comment asking for more sci-fi romances featuring queer characters and Ms. Miller kindly obliged me.

I mention the experience because it demonstrates the sometimes circuitous route a reader like me goes through to get her hands on niche genre books like steampunk romance! The process can be fun, like a treasure hunt, but it also creates discoverability challenges.

Lucky for me, I get to blog about my reading adventures and help boost the signal for steampunk romance! Having since read CIRCUS ESCAPE, I decided to tag it for you (no spoilers). First, here’s the blurb:

Nessie dreams of escaping her sheltered life to become a mechanical engineer with mechas. But wanting and doing are two very different things, and outer confidence hides inner fears—until she meets Joy. Joy is tough and self-reliant, used to be looking out for no one but herself. As her job keeps her always on the move, keeping to herself is the best way to survive. The very last person she expects to break her solitude is the prim and proper Nessie.


Circus Escape by Lilliana RoseCIRCUS ESCAPE is the type of story to read when you want something short, breezy, and lighthearted.

* The story takes place on the Moon and the setting has an American Old West feel.

* The “opposites attract” romance has a sweet feel to it and a mild heat level.

* The circus aspect refers to gladiator matches between giant mechanical creatures whose shapes resemble things like spiders.

* The story includes a mild suspense element wherein Joy is roped into her boss’ illegal scheme.

* The conflict level between Joy and Nessie is low; the main conflict arises from an external threat.

* Nessie’s coming-of-age arc lends the story a YA feel and I can see the story appealing to older teens.

I’m glad I read CIRCUS ESCAPE even though I wished it had more depth all around. I’m not saying it should have been novel-length, but the world intrigued me enough that I wanted to learn more about it and perhaps follow the couple through a few more dangerous twists and turns. But the characters are likeable and the author’s voice so earnest I’m interested in reading more of her work.

I plan on checking out Lilliana Rose’s forthcoming steampunk romance THE CLOCKWORK HEART, which will release March 2015 from Less Than Three Press. Here’s the blurb:

Haunted by a past lover and left with scars so deep Libby gave up her life as an explorer, she spends her days trying to avoid bad memories by training ruthlessly with Helen, the woman she hired to teach her self-defense. Helen is beautiful, appealing, and could be what Libby needs to climb out of her past once and for all. Until the past returns and threatens to destroy Libby, and all that she holds dear, once and for all.


Do you have an interesting book discovery story to share? Where do you search for hard-to-find titles?

About the author

Heather Massey is a lifelong fan of science fiction romance. She searches for sci-fi romance adventures aboard her blog, The Galaxy Express and is the Releases Editor for the Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly.

She’s also an author in the genre. To learn more about her published work, visit When Heather’s not reading or writing, she’s watching cult films and enjoying the company of her husband and daughter.

Check out Heather’s Author Page here