If you’re like me, you may not know a lot about the Steampunk genre. I know I could check wikipedia or Google it, but it’s much more fun to discover how a genre is written by reading a Steampunk book and chatting with an author who writes in this genre.
My first foray into Steampunk was with P.G. Forte’s, THIS WINTER HEART. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
P.G. Forte joins us on the blog to explain in her own words what Steampunk is and she shares an excerpt.
First I’d like to share my review of THIS WINTER’S HEART.
Intriguing, suspenseful, heartfelt love story.
Welcome, PG, please share with the readers your knowledge of Steampunk.
At its most basic, Steampunk is Victorian-era sci-fi. It’s what Jules Verne and HG Wells were writing, without even knowing it. Steampunk attempts to answer the questions, what would the world have been like if steam power had continued to prevail and the internal combustion engine had never been developed? And, what if the inventions of Charles Babbage and Nikola Tesla had lived up to their full, game-changing potential? It’s a melding of alternative history with pseudo-science. And for a writer who loves world-building and has often wished she could manipulate both science and history, it’s pretty much irresistible.
The initial idea for This Winter Heart came from the setting. There’s something about the Southwest that’s always struck me as being timeless. And I’d been wanting to write a Christmas story set in Santa Fe forever. When Carina Press put out the call for steampunk Christmas stories for its holiday anthology, it all came together for me. The images of a woman arriving in Santa Fe by airship and cold and lonely man who wanted to make the desert bloom (and revive his own frozen heart in the process) wedged themselves in my mind and refused to budge until I found their story and wrote it all down.
Interestingly, all the authors in the Clockwork Christmas anthology have sequels planned to our stories. Mine will follow up with my heroine’s four half-siblings. I hope to devote most of next year to getting those started.
Santa Fe, The Republic of New Texacali, 1870
Eight years ago, Ophelia Leonides’s husband cast her off when he discovered she was not the woman he thought she was. Now destitute after the death of her father, Ophelia is forced to turn to Dario for help in raising the child she never told him about.
Dario is furious that Ophelia has returned, and refuses to believe Arthur is his son—–after all, he thought his wife was barren. But to avoid gossip, he agrees to let them spend the holidays at his villa. While he cannot resist the desire he still feels for Ophelia, Dario despises himself for being hopelessly in love with a woman who can never love him back.
But Dario is wrong: Ophelia’s emotions are all too human, and she was brokenhearted when he rejected her. Unsure if she can trust the man she desperately loves, she fears for her life, her freedom and her son if anyone else learns of her true nature…
“Say that again.” Dario Leonides glared at his valet, who had just finished shaving him. He could not have heard the man correctly. Or, if he had… No. She wouldn’t, would she? It had to be an error, a baseless rumor, a mistake.
His servant, used to Dario’s temper, continued to go about his duties unperturbed. “I merely mentioned, sir, that it appears Mrs. Leonides is back in Sante Fe. I have it on good authority she was seen checking in at La Fonda last evening.”
“Bloody hell.” Dario hurriedly wiped his face on the proffered towel, then surged to his feet. Ophelia. She was the last woman… The last person… No, damn it, she was the last thing he wanted to have to think about right now. He stalked to the window but the frozen, snow-dusted landscape brought him no comfort. If anything, it served as a stark reminder of all he’d lost, of all that Ophelia had stolen from him.
She’d taken his name, his heart, his future—everything he’d had of value. And now? What could have brought her back here now? What could she possibly want to take from him this time?
He’d been a fool when Ophelia first entered his life. A young, impetuous fool with a passion for science, and wealth enough to invest in any scheme that caught his interest, such as the bold, borderline-preposterous claims a certain Dr. Charles Winter had been making.
Professor Winter, as Charles preferred to be called, was undeniably brilliant, but some of the ideas he proposed seemed too fantastical to be believed. Dario had been hesitant initially, and naturally so, about committing so much of his money to what could very well prove to be mere flights of fancy. Then he met the inventor’s daughter, newly home from Europe, and all his doubts and scruples, along with most of his common sense it now appeared, had fallen by the wayside.
Ophelia was beautiful, talented, cultured, refined. She was fascinating, enchanting and utterly adorable. She was, in short, everything Dario had ever hoped for in a wife. She had only one flaw that Dario was aware of, and that was her lineage or lack thereof. If only she’d been the product of her parents’ marriage, if only she’d been born to the professor’s wife, rather than his late mistress, his parents would have welcomed her with open arms.
The Leonides were a proud family, one who could trace their history back for well over two hundred years. By contrast, Ophelia had almost no family at all. She had no relatives that she knew of on her mother’s side; on her father’s side there were only a handful of half-siblings who refused to even acknowledge her.
Did he really intend to marry a bastard, his parents had demanded. Was this soiled heritage the one he wished to hand down to his own children? But the more time Dario spent in Ophelia’s company, the less he cared about these other matters, even if their importance had been drummed into his head since birth. Let his brothers and sisters marry for the prestige or the money it would bring them, or to advance the family’s social standing. He had enough heritage for both of them, or so he’d boldly declared, blinded by his passion. He would marry for love or not at all. And so he had.
But that was before he’d learned the truth about who—or rather, what—it was he’d married. And that was before he’d had to pay the price for his reckless impulsiveness, before he’d had to stand by and watch as his family was taken from him, lost to one senseless tragedy after another. Two of his brothers had died in battle, victims of the almost constant skirmishes along the border with Mexico. Another, the eldest, and their country’s president, was lost when a tornado touched down unexpectedly on ranch lands he’d been inspecting along with a small group of foreign diplomats. Dario’s youngest sister, the baby of the family, had been little more than a child when she was taken by small pox. Most recently, his remaining sisters, along with their children and both his parents, had succumbed to complications brought on by influenza.
Suddenly, rumors of a family “curse” seemed to buzz in the air around him whenever Dario left his estate. Suddenly, the future of the entire Leonides clan appeared to rest with him, and with the wife he’d chosen for what he now realized were all the wrong reasons. A wife who could never give him a child to carry on the family name. A wife who was not even fully human.
Not that he’d wanted to believe that, or ever would have imagined it to be possible without overwhelming proof. Even now, he found it hard to reconcile the reality with the Lia he’d known and loved. Even now, the memories of their time together, of the love he thought they’d shared, had the power to torment him.
A WINTER’S HEART is available at:
This Winter Heart is also available as part of the Steampunk Christmas Anthology, A Clockwork Christmas
We Wish You a Steampunk Christmas
Changed forever after tragedy, a woman must draw strength from her husband’s love. A man learns that love isn’t always what you expect. A thief steals the heart of a vengeful professor. And an American inventor finds love Down Under. Enjoy Victorian Christmas with a clockwork twist in these four steampunk novellas.
Crime Wave in a Corset by Stacy Gail
This Winter Heart by PG Forte
Wanted: One Scoundrel by Jenny Schwartz
Far From Broken by JK Coi
The Clockwork Christmas Authors have several sequels planned. To learn more about them check out our Facebook page