A Resource For Elia Winters’ Erotic Steampunk Romance COMBUSTION

Combustion by Elia Winters

Elia Winters has an erotic steampunk romance out from Samhain called COMBUSTION (May 2015). I discovered it hours before writing this post so I haven’t had a chance to read it, but the book promises some interesting elements—both sensual and cerebral—that I’d like to highlight. First, the blurb:

For explosive chemistry, all you need is the right catalyst…

A war orphan, Astrid Bailey is content living her adult life alone, working as a contract machinist. Her real passion, though, is inventing felicitation devices that promote women’s sexual empowerment and help them find pleasure independent of a man.

The upcoming World’s Fair, with its substantial cash prize, is an opportunity to open the shop she’s always imagined and hopefully solve her financial woes. Except the committee has denied her entry unless she obtains a “sponsor”. Astrid suspects they mean “male”.

Eli Rutledge, noted watchmaker, knows entering the fair will solidify his reputation as an innovator —but he’s fresh out of ideas. Until Astrid approaches him with her outrageous product line. With no other options, though, he agrees to lend her his good name.

As construction heats up, so does their chemistry—and the complications. Astrid is unaccustomed to asking for help, much less sharing credit. And Eli fights an attraction that could spell professional disaster. As the Fair date approaches, Astrid and Eli must decide how far they’ll go. For the business…and for each other.


The blurb promises steamy times, but I’m also intrigued by the possibility of themes about a female inventor and her entrepreneurial ambitions. Astrid seems as though she might be the kind of character who explores industrial sexism and advocates for challenging the status quo when it comes to female sexuality. Will her inventions lead to more acceptance for women regarding them enjoying sex? The watchmaker hero also looks fun!

My research turned up information about the story’s setting, namely, that it has a kind of alternate/non-traditional steampunk feel. In a recent post, Ms. Winters discusses what readers can expect from the world of COMBUSTION:

“Combustion is not set in the Victorian era, but it has a number of elements that feel Victorian: London setting, hansom cabs, a World’s Fair.

From there, though, it deviates wildly. The characters speak in modern slang and have modern views of sexuality. Astrid’s sex toy – er, “felicitation device” – business would never fly in the Victorian era. In true history, women were viewed as the moral compasses for a society whose “progress” seemed uncontrollable and frightening, and female sexuality was highly controlled by social norms and the institution of marriage itself. Free-wheeling bachelorette Astrid, a bisexual woman who not only owns her sexuality but promotes that ownership in others, would have no place in actual Victorian society.”

I’m all for authors experimenting with different types of steampunk settings. On the other hand, I’m not convinced a business like Astrid’s “would never fly in the Victorian era.” Perhaps not openly, but I could see a character like her running a sex toy business in an underground or black market. Keeping such a business a secret would involve lots of intrigue, so let’s not rule it out just yet!

Here are a few other ways you can learn more about Elia Winter and her book:

Back in June, the author conducted a blog tour for COMBUSTION so you can learn more about it from her various posts.

Click here to visit the author’s archived posts about COMBUSTION.

Follow Elia Winters on Twitter: @EliaWinters

Happy reading!

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. She’s also an author in the genre. To learn more about her published work, visit heathermassey.com.