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First Meet – Steamrolled Excerpt

“A curious quartet,” she said.

cover art

The reader who thought I was plastered when I wrote Tangled in Time dropped me like a hot potato, or Steamrolled might have made her head explode. I had a reader (a guy, no less) who told me this book was the most unique time travel he’d read in forty years of science fiction. 

This book almost made my head explode—with its mix of steampunk, science fiction, time travel, alternate reality worlds and romace—it came close to making my editor cry, and has had mixed reviews from readers. Okay, they either hate it or love it. Lol 

So I’m sharing an extended excerpt today which, hopefully, will help you decide if you might love it or hate it without spending your hard earned dollars. This is what authors like to call the “first meet” of the romantic leads, Robert Clementyne (Girl Gone Nova Doc’s brother) and Emily Babcock (a descendant of the transmogrification machine builder from Tangled in Time). 

This is probably the most connected-to-the-series book I’ve ever written. Usually, I try to write standalone, so readers can dive in where they will. You can read this alone, but your reading pleasure (or displeasure) will be enhanced by reading Tangled in Time first. And, personally, I think you’ll like it better for reading Girl Gone Nova, too, but that might just be because I love Doc so much. 

Okay, here’s the about the book:

He’s a time-traveling repo man. She’s an inventor’s descendant. Together they’ll make history.

Robert Clementyne is the only man standing between an evil doctor and an accidental time machine gone missing. When his trail of clues goes cold, he takes a long-shot gamble and visits the steampunk-themed bowling alley museum belonging to the inventor’s descendant. 

Emily Babcock has dedicated her life to keeping the memory of her trailblazing ancestor alive. But even she’s skeptical when a hunky stranger comes searching for an invention long lost in time… until the contraption materializes before her eyes. Hoping for a romantic detour, Emily climbs aboard with the sexy mystery man for a wild ride through space and time.

Their travels take a twisted turn when they plunge headfirst into a fever dream version of New York City. Trapped in an unstable time bubble, Robert and Emily must find a way to defeat the evil doctor and escape before reality comes crashing down. 

Steamrolled is the fourth book in the innovative Project Enterprise sci-fi romance series with steampunk sensibilities. If you like bizarre alternative reality worlds, fiery chemistry, and fast-paced action, then you’ll love Pauline Baird Jones’ page-turning triumph. 

Buy Steamrolled to expand your imagination with a weird and wonderful sci-fi romance today!

And here’s the extended excerpt:

The faux airship stopped short of the floor and the side swung open. The pilot, despite bulky boots on her feet, dropped onto the floor, with only a minor vibration passing through the wood. She was enveloped in a long, white coat that she hadn’t buttoned up, and she wore goggles that she pulled down, letting them hang from her neck like ungainly jewelry. She turned in a half circle, her coat billowing out. She didn’t appear to see them in the shadows as she lifted her arm and pointed something toward the rear of the building.

Sound exploded from hidden speakers placed for maximum effect. She sang—loud and off-key—using the remote as if it were a microphone, something about not feeling like dancing, but then proceeded to dance with a lack of inhibition that impressed Robert—who lived in inhibited when he wasn’t in crazy—as she headed toward the counter setup. As if to light her way, light expanded toward their shadows.

The steam had built enough to almost stabilize the power output, he deduced, pulling data out of early reports from the nanite scouts.

Risky Business.” Carey stowed his weapon, his voice raised just enough to be heard by his companions.

Robert had no idea what this meant, though Fyn seemed to.

“Too many clothes and no couch.” Fyn’s gun disappeared back onto his person as fast as it had appeared.

Carey seemed to want to argue the point but shrugged instead.

Ric withdrew his hand from inside his coat and settled into his “men in black” stance. Did he copy from the movie, or had the movie copied from him? Strange to be familiar with a movie he’d never seen. It was clear none of them considered her a threat. Robert was not so sure. He had zero experience with women, but his senses were kicking out warnings he lacked key data to accurately assess. Despite the warnings, he was not averse to shifting in her direction for more assessing.

She was tall and moved easily, despite the heavy boots and enveloping coat. There was air moving from somewhere, he decided. She lacked forward momentum sufficient to make her coat billow that much, no matter how confident her stride. As the light built, puffs of cool steam drifted up out of the vents, appearing to wrap around her, even as she blew through them, forcing them to shift and dance on passing air currents. While he appreciated the spectacle, he found the reasons for it obscure, but then he had limited experience with women, except his sister, who even he knew wasn’t a typical female.

Beneath the coat, she wore what appeared to be a red and black striped corset over some sort of white tank top and cargo pants that hung low on her hips and had many pockets. The pants were baggy and should have increased her rustic factor. They did not. Perhaps it was the corset that offset the rustic. His lack of people knowledge quadrupled where women were concerned. She stopped, upping her level of dance involvement with the music by turning in a circle, her hips kicking from side to side, her coat flapping back to give tantalizing glimpses of a female form. Increased light glanced off a section of her skin mid-body that appeared to be bare below the cinched in corset, and light reflected off something in that region. Her singing increased in volume, as well, though not in tonal accuracy. If anything, the volume decreased tonal quality.

She’s quite awful. The nanites seemed delighted, rather than the converse.

The ambient temperature had not changed, but it felt as if his body temperature increased. His casual tee shirt tightened around his neck—a physical impossibility confirmed by a tug at the soft fabric.

There is a physiological shift in progress, Wynken confirmed. Reason for shift unclear.

It wasn’t need-to-know, so Robert ignored the semi-question, hoping the reason didn’t become clear to them anytime soon.

Her features were symmetrical, the bone structure refined but strong. Her dark hair was short in the back, and landed along her chin in a neat line, except for bits of red, purple and blue spiking out around her face. They drew attention to themselves by resisting settling into the smooth fall of hair brushing her cheeks with each step. Had they been done with intent or missed by her hairbrush? Her ensemble gave clues both directions and no definitive answers.

Her mouth was outlined in deep, dark red and her nails sported a dark color not identifiable without a closer inspection. Her eyes were dark, too, and the application of cosmetics intensified their contrast with her white skin and the overall drama of her persona.

Modified Goth mixed with Steampunk, the nanites deduced with what felt like a pleased wriggle at figuring it out. Very modified he concluded, after studying the data his nanites had found. A refusal to submit to neat slotting? Whatever the reason, the result was intriguing. Her easy, unselfconscious pleasure in the music and movement fascinated Robert and his nanites. She was dangerous in ways he dimly realized were new to someone who thought he knew all there was to know about crazy.

It appeared he’d lacked critical data to make that assumption.

The music changed and she changed with it, her movements bringing her around to face them as the light erased their shadows. Robert expected embarrassed, startled, and maybe angry. She didn’t exhibit any of those emotions. Not even on a minimal level. She looked curious. As curious as a child. Only she wasn’t a child. He tugged at his tee shirt again. She used the remote to lower the music volume, swept back the edges of the coat. One hand settled on a hip, making her aspect appear somewhat challenging and a bit sexy. The other turned the remote with slender fingers, like a magic trick about to happen.

“Well.”

Her gaze tracked from the general to the particular, landing on Fyn first. Robert felt an unfamiliar resentment about her thorough survey of the alien. Fyn was big, he reminded himself. Tall, too. It took time to assess him. Her expression concealed her conclusions, so it was odd that he had the impression that her face was expressive. Her attention shifted to Ric. She didn’t hurry with him, either, but spent less on Carey. What did that mean? He braced as her gaze tracked toward him. Would she sense his secret? See the missing chunks of his life? They hadn’t been surgically removed. The jagged edges, the fragmenting of his experience, weren’t neatly patched over, though Delilah and the nanites had tried. He wanted to rub the back of his neck but didn’t. It’s a giveaway. The words, the knowledge came from—

She found him, splintering his thoughts in a way that hadn’t happened since the psychotic break, though this splintering wasn’t painful. Wynken, Blynken, and Nod still moved in to sweep up the pieces. His physiological response increased exponentially. No way to gather that up. What did she see, think, know when she looked at him? Her bright, curious gaze was too far outside his experience. What he did know was that he felt more not like himself than he had since Delilah took him back from them six months—and nine years—ago.

“A curious quartet,” she said, her voice pitched to be heard over the music still pulsing in the background like a movie soundtrack.

* * * 

So, I could ask for a love/hate vote, but I’m not a masochist. Lol “Vote” with your pocketbook if you haven’t read it. If you have…well, again, not a masochist. Lol Stay tuned on Friday for the “Behind the Book!” 

Perilously yours,

Pauline

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