Island of Icarus by Christine Danse
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Historical, Steampunk
Length: Short Story (101 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4.5 cherries
Reviewed by Foxglove
Field Journal of Jonathan Orms, 1893
En route to polite exile in the Galapagos Islands (field work, to quote the dean of my university), I have found myself marooned on a deserted tropical paradise. Deserted, that is, except for my savior, a mysterious American called Marcus. He is an inventor—and the proof of his greatness is the marvelous new clockwork arm he has created to replace the unsightly one that was ruined in my shipboard mishap.
Marcus has a truly brilliant mind and the gentlest hands, which cause me to quiver in an unfamiliar but rather pleasant way. Surely it is only my craving for human companionship that draws me to this man, nothing more? He says a ship will pass this way in a few months, but I am welcome to stay as long as I like. The thought of leaving Marcus becomes more untenable with each passing day, though staying would be fatal to my career...
Take two Victorian era gentleman scholars -- one a mechanical genius and the other wounded physically, mentally, and emotionally when his fiancee left him after an accident took one of his arms -- put them together on a lush tropical paradise of a deserted island, and what you get is an exciting yarn full of passion, adventure, and unexpected tenderness.
Jonathan tells the story in first person about his wonderment when, after being sure he was going down with the ship in a storm, he awakes in an abode full of books and clockwork devices, the home of a Marcus, a caring man who has stayed there by choice for many years in order to live his life in peace and not have to hide his true self from polite society.
As Jonathan heals from his shipwreck and learns to become more skilled with the new arm Marcus has made him, the two work on the project that is dearest to Marcus' heart: clockwork wings that will help him fly. Jonathan feels stirrings deep in his gut when he thinks of Marcus, the same stirrings he's felt before in the presence of men whose brains, work, and manner he admired, but it comes to realize that it may be something more.
Christine Danse's exotic story was all I hoped for and more after I read the blurb. It is a joy to watch the friendship, trust, and caring of the two men develop, and to see their growing need and desire for one another, emotionally as well as physically. Both men are well rounded and well drawn, and it was easy to see what attracted them to each other on all the various levels.
The love scenes are both sensual and tender, and the steampunk aspects, descriptions of Marcus' machines and their workings, are well explained yet not overdone. The language fits the time and mood of the story wonderfully without ever being clunky or burdensome. My only regret was that the story didn't go on longer, but it made me smile, laugh, and maybe even swoon just a bit.
For readers who want something a little different that still includes a solid romance, Island of Icarus is an excellent choice.