Meet: Rose Madigan
Occupation: Captain of an all-female airship crew
Location: South Pacific Ocean
Main mode of transportation: airship - Merry Widow
Genres: Steampunk, Action, Novella, Romance
by Regina Riley
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I wriggled in place on the lumpy cushion that made up the steamcar seat, finding it most uncomfortable against my delicate backside. But considering my purpose for boarding the train in the first place I was willing to suffer this momentary uneasiness. I would suffer any amount of indignity, any required humility all just for mere second of her time.
I would do anything for Rose Madigan. Anything.
She knew as much, and often used this knowledge against me. Such as now. Asking me to agree to this clandestine meeting, aboard this filthy steam train. Speaking of which, I had ridden the cursed thing for almost four hours, and she had yet to reveal herself. I was beginning to feel the fool, again. Her fool. Always her fool.
“Afternoon, Roget,” she said.
I lifted my face to find her peering into the car, as beautiful as ever. “Rose …”
After throwing a few furtive glances about, she swept into the car from the narrow hallway, sliding the door closed behind her. “I don’t have much time. Did you bring what I asked?”
I nodded, patting the package I had carried with me for the entire journey. She held out her hand, curling her fingers at me, a feral grin rising to her lips. I almost gave it to her, this thing that was so important. But before I did, I clutched it to me, instead asking, “Tell me what’s going on. Why the secrecy?”
She sighed as she took the bench across from me. “It’s complicated. It's a long story, and I don’t have time to explain.”
“Then give me the short version.”
Her laugh was the silver tinkle of bells. God, but I loved this woman. How could she not see it? Lord knows I have told her often enough.
“There is no short version,” she explained. “Suffice it to say I have gotten myself into quite the pickle.”
“Are you in danger?” I asked, knowing the answer full and well.
“Aren’t I always?” She laughed again, shaking her crimson locks across her slender shoulders. Then all at once she stopped, taking on a severe look as she stared at me in silence. Her next question almost broke my heart. “Can I trust you?”
“How can you ask that? You know you can trust me. Why, if you couldn’t you wouldn’t have contacted me to begin with.”
“True.” She sighed again, then added, “I’ve crossed the wrong person this time, Roget. The wrong person.”
I furrowed my brow in confusion. It was so typical of her to speak in riddles. “I don’t understand.”
She slumped against the seat, looking much older than I have ever seen her in all the time I have known her. Rose leaned her head back, eyes closed, seemingly lost in an onrush of memories, which found their way to her lips. “The job was so simple. Just go to the island and bring back what we found. But like you always say Roget, nothing is ever simple.” She paused to look at me again. “Do you know what we found on that God forsaken island?”
“No?” I squeaked.
“Of course you don’t, and if I have it my way, no one will. I’ll die before Ruby gets her precious cargo.” She leapt to her feet, hovering over me as she declared, “Do you hear me? I’ll die before I hand him over!”
I sat in the silence of her outburst, she poised over me trembling in rage, I unsure of how to console her. I was only sure of one thing. She was even more beautiful when she was angry, a flamed haired goddess of righteous wrath.
At length I asked, “Hand who over?”
The question seemed to snap her back to the moment. Another feral grin rose to her lips as she explained, “I’ve already said too much. If I burden you with any more darling, your life would be worth about as much as mine.”
I tried a grin of mine own. “And how much is that?”
“A full five grand last time I checked.”
My jaw fell open of its own accord, I was just that shocked. “Five thousand dollars!”
Rose reached down to close my mouth. “I know, I was just as surprised.”
“Wow. Five thousand? Really?”
“Yes, and here I thought I was worth far more.” She then leaned into me, pressing her mouth to mine in a single sweet kiss.
I had spent so long yearning for those lips, and they tasted divine. Her kiss was everything I had dreamed it would be. Then it was over.
Rose stood again with a wink as she snatched the package from my hands. “Thanks for the help Roget. Don’t wait up.” She turned and opened the car’s window. Good heavens! Was she planning on jumping out?
“Rose!” I shouted. But it was too late; she was out the window of the fast moving vehicle as fast as a slug of lead from a gun. Surely her corpse was dashed upon the ground far behind us. Why would she do that? What trouble was so terrible that she should choose to take her own life? Before I could set myself to grieve, I saw her just outside the window, hanging by a length of rope as if from mid-air. She waggled her fingers at me, still so sexy even in the face of her precarious situation. I leapt to the window and watched in awe as she rose into the sky, her rope but a lead from her airship, The Merry Widow. I should have guessed as much.
As long as there was breath in her body, and air in her ship's bag, nothing could tether Rose Maddigan to the land.
Or to any one man.
I mused on this fact with a smile as I watched her disappear into the distance.
Train ride scene by Regina Riley
Based on characters from Clockworks and Corsets. © 2010. All rights reserved.
by Regina Riley
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Clockworks and Corsets
by Regina Riley
ebook published: 2010
Romance steam gauge: heavy
Read an excerpt.
Description from author's site:
An erotic steampunk adventure in old fashioned serial novella form!
The Merry Widow, airship for hire, sails the skies in search of employment and adventure. But good paying jobs are few and far between for the all female crew, until opportunity knocks in the most unlikely of forms; a fetch and deliver mission for the notorious Madame Ruby.
Join Captain Rose Madigan as she leads her ladies into the thick of a merciless jungle, in search of a missing mad scientist’s abandoned laboratory and the wondrous booty within.
What they find, or rather who, not only changes the entire course of the Widow but also captures the affections of her newest recruit, Gabriella Upstairs.
In-a-word(s): the bee's knees
Fun dialogue and banter between the captain and her airship crew. It's not a pirate book but had a pirate-y feel to it that I enjoyed.
The storyline had the right mix of steampunk, good guys, bad guys, action, love and lust. And I should mention that there is a certain steampunk contraption most unusual and used in a bordello.
There are some steeeeamy scenes in this novella being that the airship captain has her own cabin boy, a-hem ;-D
I hope there is a sequel as I'd love to follow the adventures of this crew.
* image source silhouette