Saturday morning, while I'm on the third of what would be 14 miles for the day, I get a text from a friend; "Hey, I got your book! Can I come over and get it signed?" I spent most of the walk feeling slightly martyred. I was missing my first published work for a charity event. If that's not dedication to the cause, I don't know what is.
I took a few days to read it over and I don't know what the etiquette is for reviewing a book that you're a contributor for; so I probably won't post these on Amazon or Goodreads (or if I do, I'll have to throw in the caveat that I'm in the collection!)
Iron Hard, Sylvia Day - One of the things I really love about steampunk is that it's just a bit on the dirty side. People can die, people are in pain, the characters just seem a little more mature. They all have real life experience. Unlike the Historicals that make up a lot of what I read, there's very few pollyannas. Most of the women aren't virgins, and then men aren't always revoltingly rich. Day's heroine, Annie, is still grieving for the love she lost five years ago in the war; it takes an old friend of her beloved to reawaken the spark of womanhood inside her. Further, the women in steampunk are a lot more independent, able to exist and accomplish without a man. The delicate clockwork lovebirds that make up one of the central devices in Day's story are crafted by the heroine.
Heart of the Daedelus, Saskia Walker - Another female inventor; this one doesn't actually get to create her design. Nina doesn't have the money and someone has stolen her plans. Unfortunately for her - and fortunately for us - Dominic Bartleby wants Nina so badly that he has her designs brought to life. An altogether fascinating little story; I particularly like the Daedelus itself.
Fog, Flight and Moonlight, Sacchi Green - This particular tale is one of my favorites; the airship descriptions are wonderful, the sex is steaming, and the characters spark off each other with a vividness that leaves the reader wondering what happens next. (besides, secret societies are among my favorite plot devices!)
The Undeciphered Heart, Christine d'Abo - What happens when people are remade from parts that can never wear out? As a person transitions from the natural to the cyborg? What does society do? Mandy finds out when her beloved sacrifices himself to save her from an assassin's bullet. From then on, he is dead to society; they can never be together, no matter how they feel. If they resume their relationship, his mechanical parts will be stripped away and he'll die for a second time... can they find a way... a brilliant, emotional piece.
Mr. Hartley's Infernal Device, Charlotte Stein - I'm going to stop here for today, since this piece is my absolute favorite in the book. Written in first person, present tense, we gain entrance into Mr. Hartley's house to view his latest invention. We see Hartley, painstakingly painted and described by the woman who has loved him from the moment she first saw him, and has been unable to bring herself to show it. Mr. Hartley's device gives Elsbeth Havers everything she's always wanted, but never knew. I love this story, I've read it a half-dozen times now. The first time I cried, sniffling into three or four kleenex to get through it. (Ok, I cried the second time, too.) Really, I don't think I can say enough just how evocative and lurid this story is.