Friday, June 19, 2015

REVIEW: Combustion (+$25 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: Combustion
Author: Elia Winters
Series: N/A
Pages: 177
Date Published: 2015
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Format: Kindle
Genre: Erotic Fantasy
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours
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Synopsis:
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.
~My Thoughts~
Well...this book opens up right off the bat with some devices sure to raise eyebrows and possibly skirts...Felicitation devices...otherwise known as Victorian Vibrators. I'm not sure why, in all my vast reading of steampunk, that there has been no mentions of vibrators before this. I mean...they are frequently referred to as gadgets even today, and we've gone everywhere else with Steampunk (werewolves, spacepunk, witches, alternate worlds, etc) so why not mechanical pleasuremakers of the vibrating sort?

As you can imagine, the first scene very much caught my attention and I have to say that Combustion is full of combusting in all kinds of different ways. Astrid not only makes felicitation devices, but she also allows her customers to test drive them, usually with her at the helm to show them how to work and how to ...um...pleasure oneself. This certainly made for a titilating read all the way through.

The hero, Eli Rutledge, is an heir to a very good inventing and engineering company, is dashing in the rich boy, other side of the tracks way. He's had his heart smashed to pieces by a former lover, but he's not so jaded not to notice the obvious attraction between him and Astrid. As their business together gets more heated, so do their bodies until they can't help themselves any more. One night turns out to be little to quench the fire and as the two become immersed in each other, they may find it hard for little else, including creating the worlds most shocking invention for the World's Fair!

The sex scenes were quite detailed, though not vulgar in any sense...they are R rated so careful about who reads this one! They were steamy, hot, and full of all sorts of lusty naughtyness. As mentioned above, I haven't quite seen any sorts of gadgetry used in this manner before so that was definitely a shocker!

Plot-wise, there were a few holes. The Revolution that killed Astrid's parents reads much more like the French Revolution rather than anything to do with uptight Victorians or even loosely in England at all. And speaking of the stuffed-shirt Victorians, the premise of this book didn't seem all that realistic when looking at it historically. Because of this it seemed more of a fantasy, re-imagined, or pseudo-historical erotica rather than real Steampunk or your average Historical Fiction offering. Still, we're already suspending our disbelief for vibrators in the 17th century (or thereabouts) we might as well just suspend it completely and enjoy the story for what it is - a raucous romp in the sheets with a somewhat prude gentleman and a overenthusiastic inventor.

 ~How Independent is Too Independent?~
Guest Post By Elia Winters
Astrid Bailey, protagonist of Combustion, is an independent woman. She lives alone and, despite prejudice against her, ekes out a business for herself as a machinist and purveyor of sex toys. When Combustion opens, she’s making just enough money to get by (albeit barely) and has no interest in a relationship.

As I wrote Astrid, I struggled to make her vulnerable enough to fall in love with Eli without losing her independence. After all, can’t a woman be independent and also have a relationship? That balance was more difficult than I originally intended, though.

It comes down to the fact that Astrid didn’t really need Eli. And… I liked it that way! I didn’t want her to rely on him for all her emotional needs or, heaven forbid, financial support, but I did want her to realize she wanted him in her life. She needed to figure out that she was happier with him than without him, that he made her life better.

This was also tricky because Eli wasn’t all that cooperative on his own. He was afraid of loving again, after having been hurt before. As he found himself falling in love with Astrid, he resisted, just as Astrid resisted her own vulnerabilities.

Writing Combustion made me confront my own ideas about independence and relationships. I don’t believe in finding one’s “other half.” Relationships should be made up of two complete people already, not two halves clinging desperately to each other. I think many of our cultural stories today romanticize codependence: people who need each other to exist. When people need each other, there’s no room to actively choose a relationship. Choosing each other puts the power in your hands, rather than in the hands of fate.

I write stories of regular people, independent, complete people, who are just a little bit broken in the same way we’re all a little bit broken. I don’t write love stories where one partner fixes the other, but stories in which the relationship gives each person the support to help fix themselves.

That was one of my goals with Combustion. Astrid doesn’t want to be vulnerable, because she’s learned to equate vulnerability with weakness, but Eli shows her that she can be emotionally close to someone and depend on them without it compromising her own self worth. In return, Astrid shows Eli that everything valuable in life involves risk, and the reward is worth the chance of getting hurt. They may be independent, but they learn that they’re better together.

I’d love to know what readers think. How do you feel about independent main characters? Who are some of your favorites in books that you’ve read?
~Try an Excerpt!~
When she met his eyes again, her gaze was resolute. “Mr. Rutledge, I don’t mean to give the wrong impression. It’s very kind of you to come meet with us, when I’m sure there are other things you could be doing.” Astrid put her shoulders back slightly, straightening. “But whether you realize it or not, you’re the very reason we women need groups like this.” With a wave of her hand, she gestured to the other ladies gathered in the room. “You have nothing in common with us. You inherited a successful business from your father, who was already a prominent businessman, and your greatest achievement is to not yet have run it into the ground. Other people have given you everything you’ve ever needed. As a man, you can get a position on the Chamber of Commerce or the Fair Board or the IFCT or the London Business Council or whatever, and know that when you talk, people will listen. And I’m very happy that you have the money to own a shop and rent a booth at the World’s Fair, but to assume that everyone else is in the same position as you demonstrates how completely clueless you are about the plight of women business owners in this city. So no, you haven’t said anything to offend me. Everything about you offends me.”

The room had gone silent, and Eli stood frozen, staring down into Astrid’s face, into her dark eyes that suddenly widened as she realized the magnitude of what she had just said. She flushed, her face and neck and collarbones turning a rosy shade of pink, and she pressed one hand to her lips before turning and rushing from the room.

As she left, Eli watched her go with numb shock. Her words had been incredibly rude, and he couldn’t help but feel stung. What shocked him the most, though, was his sudden and overwhelming urge to kiss her.
~Meet Elia!~ 
Elia Winters has always been a New England girl, despite having spent much of her childhood in Florida. She holds a degree in English Literature and teaches at a small rural high school where she runs too many extracurricular activities. She balances her love of the outdoors with a bottomless well of geekiness.

Elia dabbles in many genres, but erotic romance has been one of her favorites since she first began sneaking her mother’s romance novels. In high school, she kept her friends entertained with a steady stream of naughty stories and somehow never got caught passing them around. Her erotic fiction and poetry have been published online at Clean Sheets and Scarlet Letters under a different name. Elia currently lives in New England with her loving husband and their odd assortment of pets.

Elia’s virtual life is as busy as her real life. In addition to her website ( http://eliawinters.com/)
Elia will be giving away a $25 Amazon Gift card! To enter, please fill out the rafflecopter below. 

39 comments:

  1. I'm trying to picture such devices at the World Fair. You caught my attention.

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  2. than you for the chance to win :)

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  3. This book definitely sounds different but in a good way. I am very intrigued and want to know more !

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  4. Sounds like a very intriguing book, thanks for sharing it and your thoughts.

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  5. Sorry I just now got here! It's been a busy day. Thanks for hosting me, Andra, and I'll be available to answer people's comments.

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  6. Sounds like a great book and I loved the excerpt! As far as independent main characters, I do like my heroes and heroines to retain a sense of self and to be able to function without their significant other. They can't be joined at the hip all the time, right?

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    1. Right! Otherwise one person is just redundant. Thanks for your comments, Glenda!

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  7. Wow! A woman before her time!

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    1. That's what I was hoping for, Ree! I like to imagine there really were women like Astrid, maybe not with sex toys, but with other businesses operating quietly below the law.

      You know, aside from prostitutes.

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  8. WELL...I think I'll have to read this just for the gadgetry! LOL.

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  9. What a great post and review, enjoyed reading, thank you!

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  10. I like the idea of placing such a strong female character into historical fiction. Looks to be a great read.

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  11. Author is impressive holding a degree in English Literature and teaching at a high school where she runs many extracurricular activities. She should be commended for her passion

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    1. Aww, thanks, Katie! I finally finished the school year yesterday (FINALLY) and I'm ready to decompress and veg out this summer... and write a bunch too. :)

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  12. It sounds like a great book. I enjoyed reading the excerpt. Thank you for the giveaway.

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    1. Thanks John, and good luck in the giveaway.

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  13. Congratulations on your book's release, I love the sexy premise! And thanks for the awesome giveaway!

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    1. Thank you very much, Judy, and good luck in the giveaway.

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  14. Sounds like an interesting story. And not to judge a book by it's cover, but you've got a gorgeous model on the cover. Who is she?

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    1. I have no idea, but I agree that she's gorgeous. When my editor at Samhain sent me the preliminary cover art, I was blown away. She isn't exactly like I pictured in my head - I was imagining Carey Mulligan - but she fits Astrid perfectly.

      I've been updating my Pinterest boards with my "headcast" for characters. I love to assign celebrities to my main characters.

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    2. Good call on Carey Mulligan. I totally have a celebrity crush on her.

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  15. I like your focus on regular people with a few jagged edges... nice job!

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    1. Thanks, Seaburd (and cool handle). I think we all have some jagged edges.

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  16. I can't wait to get a copy of the book.

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  17. I love strong female characters, great excerpt!

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  18. Looks like an interesting book ;)

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  19. What do you enjoy the most about writing?

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  20. Independent main characters? I can't remember! I have read over 250 books every year since high school in 1973, so I'm lucky to remember book titles!
    That being said, I always thought Murder She Wrote's Jessica Fletcher was pretty independent, but that's a tv show. Best I can do, LOL!

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  21. I have enjoyed learning about the book. Thanks for sharing it.

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  22. Strong, independent main women characters? A definite plus. Liked learning about the author and the interview and excerpt. The book sounds interesting but maybe a bit outside my usual type of reading material. But I'm always open to the new and have had some pleasant surprises. Thanks!

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