Silver Wings is an anthology of four homoerotic steampunk adventures.
Nothing Ventured by Cari Z
England is in a race with France over who reigns supreme in the field of manly toys. Sean Carlyle, an aeronautical engineer working at the University of Oxford, is charged with one-upping them for an upcoming competition.
He's brilliant, creative, and angry because he's just lost his preferred pilot. The man has been replaced by Nicholas Winters, a handsome and gratingly cocky American. To make matters worse, Sean is intensely attracted to him.
Forced to work together, Sean finds Nicholas likable, er, lovable. Can Nicholas temper Sean's dangerous competitive streak? And can the pair break through the social barriers and indulge in one another?
Nothing Ventured is a fun foray into the mind of an inventor. I liked how creative the author was with the descriptions of the craft they raced in. Sean and Nicholas played off each other perfectly in this entertaining piece.
Spoils of War by Ross Baxter
It's the end of the civil war and Bruce Valmont, a Colonel for the Confederacy is forced to deal with disrespectful yankees as they demobilize the confederacy's army. Finding a kindred (gay) soul in Lieutenant Tom Peters of the Confederacy, Valmont presents him with a grand idea: to take one of the Yankee's extra dirigibles and turn it into a floating party where gay men can have sex without societal recourse.
Tom helps him in his quest, but it turns out they are going to have to work for the craft. At least they work together giving them some time for play.
While the concept of this story was fun, the hero was hard to like. The story was emotionally flat and the plot meandered, and I found myself wanting it to end.
Surface Tension by JT Whitehall
Sheldon "Shel" Winterbourne is relaxing on the ocean front with his mother when a submarine beaches. Intensely curious, Sheldon is investigating when a hatch opens and a man emerges. His beard is long and he's gaunt. Shel is soon smitten with the man.
Lieutenant Commander Geoffrey Sweeney is with the US Navy and in terrible spirits to learn he's in Penzance in Great Britain. There is no one else left alive in the sub and Geoffrey has come to realize he'd been led astray by his superiors. He hates the submarine with a passion while Sheldon wants to explore it.
Wondering if anyone else may be alive inside, Shel returns to the sub alone. He's caught by Geoffrey and learns why the sub haunts him. When he offers his condolences, things heat up and the men become lovers.
Is Shel's compassion enough to calm the horrors of Geoffrey's past?
Surface Tension is a solid story. I liked the plot thread about Shel's mother, her sickness, and her wheel chair contraption. Shel and Geoffrey are believable as lovers, nicely done.
Steamy Surrender by Mahalia Levey
Cadence has been diagnosed with female hysteria because of her sexual appetite. To "cure" her once and for all, her father betroths her to a man she doesn't want.
To avoid her fate, she runs away. She is captured by slave traders along with Braeden, a gay man. As a joke, they force Cadence and Braeden to have sex. Seeing that cooperation will be the best way to keep them safe, Braeden rapes her, but kindly. Cadence enjoys it.
They are taken to the slave auction. Who's there to buy, but the man she's supposed to wed. After he buys them, the three embark on a sexual love affair.
Steamy Surrender was a hot read for women. I'm not sure how much gay men would enjoy it, but I found the menage a trois sexy.
That said, I had a hard time with the plot. I couldn't see the men who'd captured Cadence and Braeden standing around and watching them have sex. They'd have been more likely to rape Cadence themselves then beat Breaden.
That said, the female hysteria angle was interesting and the steampunk sex toy was a crack up.
Wayward cowboys with mechanical toys, an enterprising post-Civil War pleasure seeker, lovers conflicted in flight, and a lonely inventor whose salvation washes up on the shore of Penzance...these stories of passion in the time of steam are guaranteed to set fire to your sense.
Silver Wings, an anthology of M/M and bi-male steampunk, features works by Cari Z., Mahalia Levey, Ross Baxter and JT Whitehall, edited by Phaze bestseller Leigh Ellwood.