To celebrate the imminent release of my new steam punk erotica novel, The Pornographer’s Apprentice, I’m sharing a scene from my last major steam punk work, Rajasthani Moon. This isn’t a particularly erotic scene, but it does highlight some of the gadgets developed by the brilliant and devious Rajah Amir.
Drop by on Tuesday, when I’ll have an excerpt from the new book, and a chance for you to win a copy – even before it’s released!
Neither kink nor curse can stop a woman with a mission.
Cecily Harrowsmith, secret agent extraordinaire, is a woman on a mission. When the remote Indian kingdom of Rajasthan refused to remit its taxes to the Empire, Her Majesty imposed an embargo. Deprived of the energy-rich mineral viridium, essential for modern technology and development, Rajasthan was expected to quickly give in and resume its payments. Yet after three years, the rebellious principality still has not knuckled under. Cecily undertakes the difficult journey to that rugged, arid land in order to determine just how it has managed to survive, and if possible to convince the country to return to the Empire’s embrace. Instead, she’s taken captive by a brigand, who turns out to be the ruler’s half-brother Pratan, and delivered into the hands of the sexy but sadistic Rajah Amir, who expertly mingles torture and delight in his interrogation of the voluptuous interloper.
Cursed before birth by Amir’s jealous mother, Pratan changes to a ravening wolf whenever the moon is full. Cecily uncovers the counter-spell that can reverse the effects of the former queen’s hex and tries to trade that information for her freedom. Drawn to the fierce wolf-man and sympathising with his suffering, she volunteers to serve as the sacrifice required by the ritual—offering her body to the beast. In return, the Rajah reveal Rajasthan’s amazing secret source of energy. In the face of almost impossible odds, Cecily has accomplished the task entrusted to her by the Empire. But can she really bear to leave the virile half-brothers and their colourful land behind and return to the constraints of her life in England?
Sarita marched her into an adjoining room to dress. As Cecily donned the peacock blue sari laid out for her, and the matching crystal-studded kid slippers, she wondered again at the apparent prosperity of the Rajasthani realm. Everything she’d seen of the palace—the carved and gilded pillars supporting the ceiling, the intricate mosaics on the floor, the glow globes fashioned of precious metals and inlaid with gems—spoke of wealth and ample resources. Cut off from a supply of viridium, the lifeblood of the modern world economy, Rajasthan should have been desperate and impoverished, or at the very least relying on the most basic and primitive power sources—human and animal. On the contrary, it appeared that Amir and his people possessed some technologies even Her Majesty lacked.
She had to discover how Rajasthan had managed to survive the embargo in such a handy fashion. Perhaps her apparent status as the Rajah’s prisoner might actually make that easier than it would have been had she managed to maintain her cover story.
The dressing room did not feature a mirror. However, Cecily could tell from Sarita’s sour expression that the opulent costume suited her. The silver-embroidered silk clung to her full hips then fell in graceful folds to her trim ankles. The under blouse, a contrasting pale green, hugged her breasts. Her protruding nipples would have been easily visible if not for the loose end of the sari, which draped across her chest and trailed down her back. The gossamer fabric hid them from a casual glance—though perhaps not from someone determined to survey all her charms.
Sarita thrust a carved cinnabar box into her hands. “My Lord Amir bade me give you these,” she said, her tone making it clear how reluctantly she obeyed. Inside Cecily discovered exquisite eardrops of lapis and silver filigree, and matching bangles.
“Does the Rajah treat all his prisoners so generously?” she asked, inserting the wires into her pierced lobes. It was difficult not to sound smug.
“You represent the spoils of war, Miss Harrowsmith. He decorates you to make you appear more valuable—and for his own amusement. Do not become too attached to this finery,” she added, a cruel light flashing in her eyes. “He’ll have you naked and begging for mercy soon enough, I expect.”
Cecily shivered slightly. Given what she knew of women, Sarita might be a more formidable enemy than her master.
“Oh, there’s one more thing we have for you.” The Rajasthani beauty held out what looked like a silvery necklace. Unlike the earrings and bracelets, it was smooth and plain.
“That’s pretty,” Cecily commented, reaching for the gleaming circlet.
Sarita snatched it away. “Perhaps. But practical, too. This collar will keep you here where you belong.”
“Watch.” Sarita unfastened the shutters and held the collar up to the waning light. “Within the palace walls, a simple ornament. But venture even a few inches outside…”She extended her arm through the open window, the collar in her hand. Cecily heard a snick, as though some mechanism had triggered. When Sarita showed her the silver circle again, four vicious-looking metal spines poked from the rim into the interior. Some sort of liquid dripped from the needle-like points onto the floor. “Had you been wearing the collar, poison would already be pouring into your veins through the puncture wounds. You’d be dead in minutes.”
A shudder ran through Cecily’s frame, but her horror was not unmixed with admiration. What a fiendishly clever device! Z would sell his right arm to plumb its secrets.
Sarita manipulated the collar in some way Cecily couldn’t discern. The spikes retracted. After wiping the thing off with a cloth, she beckoned to Cecily. The collar came apart into two half-rings. Sarita approached, clearly intending to encircle Cecily’s neck.
Something like panic seized the secret agent. Once the collar was installed, her chances of escape would dramatically diminish. Sarita was no more than a few inches away, close enough that her jasmine perfume filled Cecily’s nostrils. A knee in the belly, a blow to the carotid, and she’d be immobilised…
“Don’t try anything stupid, Cecily,” the other woman purred, her fingertips soft against Cecily’s throat. “Bhuni is watching your every move. And I can activate the collar with a single touch.” The endpoints of each half-circle sealed together with a click. Cecily’s heart plummeted.
Sarita stood back, pretending to admire her companion. “There. I think you’re finally ready to be escorted into the presence of the Rajah and his royal brother.” She nodded to Bhuni, who clamped down on Cecily’s arm like some automaton and led her towards the door.
“It will be amusing to see how long you manage to survive.”