There are many types of heroes in romance, but some subgenres attract certain kinds more than others. Paranormal romances feature supernatural heroes such as vampires and werewolves. Historical romances are populated by Dukes and rakes. Romantic suspense offers heroes in law enforcement and the military. Those distinctions got me wondering—what type of heroes can readers generally expect from steampunk romances?
More often than not, steampunk romance heroes are men of action. They might be airship captains, spies, mercenaries, inventors, or soldiers, but an action-adventure component cuts across many stories in this subgenre. In fact, these heroes are a natural extension of Edisonade stories.
What is “Edisonade,” exactly? Victorian-era people were fascinated by technology and engineering and their interest was channeled into tales about inventors and their fantastical devices. As a result, Edisonade stories developed a reputation for action/adventure and stylish trappings such as brass goggles, airships, and automatons. Over the years many of those elements worked their way into steampunk.
How does the Edisonade influence impact steampunk romance heroes? Unlike vampires and Dukes, steampunk romance heroes are more often defined by what they do more so than what they are. The ability to use a steampunk weapon or device, endure physical hardships, win a fight, navigate an airship, or chase a villain while operating a steam carriage are a few of the ways they demonstrate their heroic nature.
A spirit of adventure permeates these larger-than-life heroes. Instead of feeling angst over their internal nature, they’re concerned about the struggle between (external) good and evil forces and/or the impact of technology on their society. They’re also keen to restore balance to the world or address injustices.
Often, they’re “good guy” heroes–but with an edge. A pirate airship captain, for example. A mysterious gunslinger. A crafty spy. A devious mercenary. Their dangerous reputations make them exciting and attractive to the heroine. At the same time, their selfless choices and noble deeds provide clues about their true natures.
Action steampunk romance heroes don’t really need taming. That’s an important distinction to make because it ties into one of the main core fantasies frequently offered by steampunk romance. Rather, they need completion by heroines who share their ideals and smarts. Sometimes a heroine’s role is to help them find purpose in life or a way to positively channel their problem-solving skills. One highly articulated theme I’ve noticed is that an action steampunk romance hero is turned on by a heroine’s brain and her ability to think fast in the face of danger as much as—if not more than—her beauty.
If you’re intrigued by action steampunk romance heroes and want to experience them up close and personal, I compiled a short list of titles:
SKIES OF FIRE – Zoe Archer
THE JANUS AFFAIR – Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris
HEART OF STEEL – Meljean Brook
HER SKY COWBOY – Beth Ciotta
THE HUNTER – Theresa Meyers
KILTS & KRAKEN – Cindy Spencer Pape
NIGHT OF FIRE and NIGHT OF STEEL – Nico Rosso
The West just got a whole lot wilder.
A woman on a mission… Scientific achievement isn’t enough for Violet Whitcomb. Life working alongside her renowned scientist father is filled with intellectual challenges, but what she truly craves is love and adventure. She’s resigned to a fate of academic pursuits…until a fateful trip across the American frontier changes everything. A rogue inventor known as the Iron Scorpion kidnaps Violet’s father and she alone is left to plan his rescue.
A man with a secret… Logan McCoy knows firsthand going up against the Iron Scorpion is suicide, but he can’t let Violet waltz into the villain’s lair alone. She may be a stranger, but she’s also the most compelling woman he’s ever known.
A perilous quest… Their attraction is undeniable, but their alliance turns contentious when Violet insists on including a third partner on their mission: her father’s latest invention and the world’s most advanced automaton, Arthur. The reason for Logan’s resistance isn’t clear until Violet comes face-to-face with the Iron Scorpion’s diabolical devices, and by then, it’s far too late.
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Thanks for stopping by, and 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 subgenre. To learn more about her published work, visit www.heathermassey.com.