by Lisabet Sarai
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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 the rugged, arid land of the Rajputs 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 constraints of her life in England?
EXCERPT: Steampunk, rated G
A slim leather-bound volume embossed in gold caught her eye. Piezoelectric Nanomachinery: Some Experiments with Alumina-Quartz Aggregates by Amir Pratihar, read the spine. ‘A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Masters Degree in Engineering, Cambridge University, May 13, 1878’ added the front cover. At first, Cecily was not completely certain the Amir who authored the monograph was the Rajah. However, a quick perusal of the diagrams within convinced her that this was indeed an early effort by the perverse ruler.
The elegantly-drafted illustrations showed rings of tubular metal, generically similar to last night’s restraints. Cross-sectional views revealed chains of crystals and a mesh of tiny, interlocking gears. Although mechanical devices were not her specialty, Cecily had studied enough science to grasp the basic principle. A small electric current applied to the quartz would deform the crystals, which would then transfer their kinetic energy to the gear train, magnifying the final effect. Clever, and as Cecily could testify from personal experience, remarkably effective.
What, though, would serve as the source of electricity? The thesis assumed the existence of a compact, viridium-powered cell, but that would have made the cuffs far heavier than they were in reality. In any case, Rajasthan had no viridium deposits—at least according to Her Majesty’s geological experts—and had not received any shipments of the energy-rich mineral since the establishment of the embargo. Clearly the kingdom had developed an alternative energy source. Discovering its nature should be her focus here, given the limited time she had available.
Returning the Rajah’s thesis to original spot, she scanned the shelves, looking for titles related to electricity or energy in general. She located several fat volumes in English and German—quite likely Amir’s textbooks from his time at Cambridge—but nothing written in Hindi or Rajasthani. Frustrated but determined, she lugged the texts back to her table.
She surveyed the table of contents from one of the English books. It was organised based on different categories of energy source—coal, petroleum, biomass, hydropower, wind power, solar power, and minerals. Although, as a scholarly work, the book attempted objectivity, it was clear that the authors believed the newly discovered wonder of viridium and perhaps other mineral energy sources held the most promise for future technological and social development.
Where did Rajasthan get its energy? Certainly the country was too dry to derive all its power needs from dams and turbines. With its vast, empty desert regions, wind was a possible power source, but Cecily thus far had seen no windmills during her journeys through the kingdom. Using the sun’s energy was a distant dream, practical only on a very small scale at present. Perhaps the Rajasthanis mined some other, previously unknown mineral superior to viridium. If so, this general textbook wasn’t going to help her.
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I became addicted to words at an early age. I began reading when I was four. I wrote my first story at five years old and my first poem at seven. Since then, I've written plays, tutorials, scholarly articles, marketing brochures, software specifications, self-help books, press releases, a five-hundred page dissertation, and of course, lots of erotica and erotic romance – nearly fifty books and counting!
In addition to writing, I also edit erotica and erotic romance. My editing credits include the ground breaking anthology Sacred Exchange, which explores the spiritual aspects of BDSM relationships, the massive collection Cream: The Best of the Erotica Readers and Writers Association, the charity anthology Coming Together: In Vein, a collection of vampire tales that benefits Doctors Without Borders, and six volumes of the Coming Together: Presents series of single author charitable erotica books. You'll also find me writing the newsletter and occasional articles for the Erotica Readers and Writers Association (www.erotica-readers.com) and monthly reviews for Erotica Revealed (www.eroticarevealed.com).
I've always loved traveling; my husband seduced me in a Burmese restaurant by telling me tales of his foreign adventures. Since then I have visited every continent except Australia, although I still have a long travel wish list. Currently I live with him and our two exceptional felines in Southeast Asia, where I pursue an alternative career that is completely unrelated to my creative writing.
For more information about me and my writing, visit my website (http://www.lisabetsarai.com) or my blog Beyond Romance (http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com).
Lisabet's Fantasy Factory (website) http://www.lisabetsarai.com
Beyond Romance (blog): http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com
Lisabet's List (Yahoo group): http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lisabets_list
Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/lisabetsarai
Goodreads page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/83387.Lisabet_Sarai
Lisabet will be awarding an E-Book from her back list to a randomly drawn commenter at each stop, plus a grand prize of a $50 GC to Amazon, BN or AllRomanceEbooks (winner's choice) to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. To be eligible, commenters MUST include their email addresses in their comments.