Pros: Gripping epic tale with fascinating characters & worldbuilding, hot sex, and intense machinations
Cons: Occasionally confusing; one potential deus ex machina
Rating: 4 out of 5
Review book courtesy of Penguin Group
Rachel Grace’s Geared for Pleasure (An Elemental Steam Romance) is one whole story broken into two parts, “Earthly Desires” and “Fiery Temptations,” each following a different couple. In “Earthly Desires,” Dare is the Queen’s Chalice—her companion and protector. After realizing that something terrible has happened to the queen, Dare sets out to find her and ends up on a ship called the Siren, a submersible that acts as a traveling brothel. Bodhan, the captain, realizes that there’s something unusual about his newest passenger, but his attraction to her is clouding his judgment. Dare must find her way to help her queen, and decide whether Bodhan can be trusted.
In “Fiery Temptations,” Cyrus, the Queen’s Sword, joins the hunt. His passion for Seraphina—a semi-feline thief—is tempered by his rage at her betrayal of him. Now that they know they’re on the same side, they’ll have to find some way to live with each other’s company if they want to save their beloved queen.
The tale of Queen Idony the ever young is a fascinating one. Although she doesn’t exactly put in an appearance in Geared for Pleasure, she’s waiting around every corner, informing every twist and turn. The worldbuilding that has gone into this story is significant. There’s some confusion with so many new things to learn and understand, but Ms. Grace does a fairly good job of dropping us into the middle of the world. It did take me a little time to get my bearings with regard to all the machinery surrounding the queen—the Wode, the Theorrean Raj—I sometimes felt like I was holding on by my fingernails.
As is probably obvious from the title this is steampunk, set in a fantasy world. Ships that fly through the air are rare indeed, but they do exist. There’s quite a complex plot winding through this book, and it is far from over by the time the last page comes along, so I hope there’s more to come. Certainly I’d like to know more about who and what the queen is, and what’s happened to her.
I enjoyed “Earthly Desires” more than “Fiery Temptations” even though the latter furthered the plot more. I think it’s because I wasn’t entirely fond of Cyrus as a character, but very much enjoyed Dare and Bodhan’s personalities and relationship. Also, there’s some danger of one of the off-screen characters acting as a deus ex machina, which shows up more in the second tale. It’s often difficult to tell why this character did or didn’t bother explaining various things to various people, which made some of his decisions seem calculated simply to be convenient to the plot.
Geared for Pleasure depicts an original, complex world with plenty of politics and scheming. Most of the characters are interesting and engrossing, and the erotic sex and romance are appropriately hot. While the execution isn’t perfect, it was certainly good enough to leave me wanting more!