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The Inventor's Companion

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Gabriel Blackstone’s world is divided quite clearly into castes: everyone knows their place and abides by it. As an inventor in the merchant caste, his life is predictable in its routine until the night his best friends and assistants, Caleb and Andrew, purchase the time—and body—of a companion for his birthday. As an activist in the Caste Equality movement, everything Gabriel believes in tells him to refuse the gift, but then he meets Lucio. The beautiful and alluring companion is far more than the vapid courtesan he'd expected, and he can’t get the man out of his mind.

After that night, Gabriel tells himself to forget about Lucio, but a chance meeting at a ball makes it clear neither of them is willing to ignore the compelling chemistry between them. It will take all their combined trust and cunning, plus the help of a wily aristocrat and a plucky political activist, to overcome the challenges of infidelity, abuse, and social stigma that lay along their road; however, Gabriel knows it will all be worth it if at the end of the day he can call Lucio his own.

350 pages, Paperback

First published March 10, 2011

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About the author

Ariel Tachna

102 books403 followers
Ariel Tachna lives outside of Houston with her husband, her daughter and son, and their cat. Before moving there, she traveled all over the world, having fallen in love with both France, where she found her husband, and India, where she dreams of retiring some day. She’s bilingual with snippets of four other languages to her credit, and is as in love with languages as she is with writing.

Visit Ariel at her website http://www.arieltachna.com or on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/ArielTachna, or e-mail her at arieltachna@gmail.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 76 reviews
Profile Image for Karel.
279 reviews63 followers
September 5, 2012

The two main characters make me feel like I'm reading about two women instead of men, with the amount of lovesick sighing around. To believe that they're in love at all requires a suspension of disbelief in itself. They fell in love at first sight, practically at chapter one, and have absolutely no reason to do so. Lucio at least have a weak excuse to be in love. Nobody's ever treated him like a human being before except Gabriel. Gabriel's excuse is that Lucio is hot and likes his machines. I like dogs, but I don't fall in love with every breeder and dog enthusiast.

The steampunk is gratuitous at its best. It did nothing for the book - it feels like an excuse to have slaves in a somewhat civilized setting, and that's about it. It could have been Regency era, and Gabriel could be making carriage wheels with no discernible differences.

Seeing as they're already in love right from the start, the whole book is basically one cog after another in between them and happily ever after. In a genre where happily ever afters are pretty much a given, the book does nothing to make you want to know what happens at all. A lot of stuff that happened are typical of romance novel. Some books manage to make the angst and clichés work. This book didn't.

I stopped reading seriously after two hundred pages and skimmed through the rest for the plot. I always try to finish the books I read - to get my money's worth and to be fair - but this is just too awful to continue. Reads like whiney Romeo and Juliet or a Teen Angst novel.
Profile Image for Imanewreader.
295 reviews192 followers
December 1, 2020
cw - rape, prostitution, torture, slur

it was interesting. i (kinda) liked the beginning and the whole forbidden/caste relationship with one of them being a mignon and the other a merchant (so both pretty low on the hierarchy)

although the story was cute, the whole rape, torture and slur made me feel uneasy, nauseous and bad.

the ending was very rushed. some points and questions aren't answered, there are blanks that need to be filled.
it feels like the author took a way she couldn't handle nor go back and correct.
Profile Image for Cleon Lee.
Author 4 books23 followers
June 2, 2011
This is her first book I've read and certainly won't be the last. The romance building is sweet and touching, no sex at first meeting, although they did fall in love at first meeting. But the way it's handled, we can see why they fall for each other and how deep their connection is. So sweet, touching, and sad at some time.

It is a very realistic view of a society which allows slavery, (although the society doesn't outright says it is a slavery). It is certainly not a slavery as titillation story. Also, a very realistic view of how someone who works in a brothel feels about sex and get treated by their clients.

I am not familiar with steampunk and I love and enjoy the steampunk-ness of this story. But the steampunk is just a background, not central to the theme of this fic. The theme is more about the unfairness of sexual slavery and caste system.

I really really love Lucio, Gabriel, & all the support caste. (except Lady Meredtyh and the handlers of course. lol). They are soo so humans, with their flaws and all. But they truly strife to be better. I especially love Gabriel's struggle with his jealousy to accept Lucio's profession at first. The ending is very realistic.
Profile Image for Tex Reader.
465 reviews20 followers
April 11, 2021
3.0 out of 5 stars - Heavy on the Romance, Lite on the Steampunk

This was mostly an m/m romance with some steamy parts, but steam-punk-lite with a caste system.

Ariel Tachna's writing was easy-to-read and passionate. The romance was basically the trope of two lovers from different classes and the difficulties and conflicts that arose as a result. One was a merchant (in this case the titular inventor/shop owner) and the other a lower-class sex worker (in this case the titular "companion" from the pleasure caste, essentially treated as sex slaves with all the maltreatment that implies - so heed that as a trigger).

I would have liked it to be more evenly balanced, since what punk I got was just generally-described machines like a fan, heater, transport and flying chair, which were, except for the latter, nothing but a more modern device put into an earlier time, and without going into any mechanization that would have given it a better feel. That earlier time was the most creative part, an alternate universe with a strong caste system. It was described well, all be it somewhat stereotypically drawn with its rigid adherence, privilege, prejudices and abuses.

The two MCs were likable, and it was interesting how the romance played out in this AU. It was love at first sight, followed by a lot of angst and being lovesick, if you like that sort of thing. There were quite a few sex scenes, which portrayed more the pov of the receiver rather than both men, but still good, providing the steam in this steampunk. Not a strong ending, but it was still the traditional happy one.
Profile Image for Augusta Li.
Author 38 books120 followers
August 16, 2011
This is my favorite of Ariel's books so far. The main characters were so well done that I cared about them and their struggles almost from the first page. The supporting characters were also deep and multi-faceted, each of them engaging in his or her own right. The world building is solid, and I enjoyed the exploration of an industrialized society that adhered to a caste system, particularly in how the privileged justified the system. Each person in this world, aside from the aristocracy, is branded with a tattoo announcing his or her caste. The system is very rigid, with no way for a person to change his or her assigned role. Gabriel belongs to the merchant class as an inventor struggling to make ends meet, while Lucio is a member of the lowest class, the pleasure caste. Lucio is called a companion, but in reality he's closer to a slave. I can't say how much I appreciate that Ariel doesn't sugar-coat the details of his life. His work is brutal, dangerous and degrading. Some of the things that happen to Lucio are not for the squeamish, but they are necessary to understand the reality of his life and limited freedom. These details are given as a way to make the reader understand the man he's become and his motivations and fears, and not as an excuse for kinky, non-consensual scenes, another refreshing change.

Too often in m/m romance, I find an overdone amount of angst before the characters decide to begin a relationship, with each of them pining away for the other while wondering if the attraction is mutual. In this case, every ounce of angst and pining is justified, and the characters' pain and doubt rang very true to me. Of course Lucio is cynical after the life he's been forced to lead, and so of course he wonders if the kindness and respect he receives from Gabriel is genuine. One the other hand, Gabriel is no fool and knows Lucio has been highly trained to tell a client exactly what he wants to hear, so he has no choice but to doubt Lucio's sincerity in the beginning. Lucio is also expensive, and poor merchant Gabriel can rarely afford to spend time with him. After the relationship begins, Gabriel naturally struggles with Lucio's work, and who wouldn't? Still, these men are literally willing to risk everything for even a small chance to be together, and I cheered them on the entire time, even when it seemed the most hopeless.

Lastly, I'd like to say how much I appreciate Ariel putting the "punk" back in steampunk. This isn't just a romance that happens to take place in a quasi-Victorian setting with a lot of clockwork around. The societal context is just as important as the technology. In the tradition of all really good steampunk, the story wouldn't have worked in another setting, because the conflict arose organically from the world the characters inhabit. These characters see the injustice around them, and they're willing to fight to protect the people they care about and in some cases, just to fight for anyone less fortunate than themselves.

I love to see characters fighting the system. It's as essential to steampunk as the clockwork.
Profile Image for Deja Dei.
125 reviews24 followers
September 26, 2011
Pretty good romance story with interesting characters, though I had a few problems along the way. The world is well built if a little generic Victorian England. However, the people living here can't escape the assigned roles tattooed on their hands. Gabriel is designated an inventor, and Lucio is a companion, which is basically a sex slave who has to service any one he's sent to. His life is horrible, and it made me angry and upset to see what Lucio had to go through while other people dismissed it.

There's an instant connection between Lucio and Gabriel, because Gabriel treats Lucio like a human being and Gabriel sees more to Lucio than a prostitute. Gabriel is completely against Lucio's profession, but he tries to accept it. The men go through a lot to try to be together. Lucio really suffers because of his profession. There are good supporting characters who try to aid the couple, and some real villains too. It's a beautiful love story, and I felt that these two characters would go to any length to be together. I felt for them because they had to wait so long and go through so much.

The writing dragged a little at times. There was so much of Gabriel and Lucio's thoughts and worries shown, and sometimes it was repetitive, that after a while I kind of skimmed over the passages where they were thinking about each other. I skimmed the sex scenes, which were alot, toward the end too. At first, they contributed to the character development, because Lucio had to learn to see sex outside of work, and to get to experience pleasure instead of just giving pleasure to others. But after a while they were just going at it for no apparent reason, other than that they liked it and wanted to. I don't have a problem with that. It just didn't hold my interest towards the end. I enjoyed the book and the characters, but I would have prefered a little faster pacing. The final dangerous thing they needed to do came off a little too easily, but I was glad to see it. Sorry to be vague, I don't want to spoil anything. It is a good story.

There are het scenes and bad torture, though off-camera, the character is seriously injured. Everything bad is handled with tact, so it should be ok for most everybody. Lucio's life is just not good, and it needs explaining.
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,004 followers
July 23, 2011
I went up and down on whether I liked The Inventor's Companion for the first 50% of it. I like the setting, and the fact that it's a serious exploration of a caste system, rather than something done purely for titillation. I quickly got to love Gabriel for being a decent guy, though perhaps too good to be true. I got very fond of the supporting characters -- there was a lot of attention given to developing all the characters, which has been somewhat lacking in some of the other LGBT books I've read. It was a fully explored world, I think, bar for the fact that obviously it will develop after the political events of the story. Which is good, too: it's a satisfying, complete story, but there's scope for development, and I think it will be a series, according to what I've read.

I'm not sure what the problem in the first 50% or so was: I just didn't connect with the story at that point. What did get to me was the tension between Lucio and Gabriel, the feelings that grew between them, and the ways they found to be together. The fact that they communicated their problems and tried to work through them. And the supporting characters, too: their friendship for Gabriel, their growing understanding of and sensitivity to politics.

The steampunk aspects of the story are in the background, and feel natural to the story. It isn't really about the machines: they're important, yes, and the fact that Gabriel is an inventor is entirely necessary to the plot and to his interactions with others, but it isn't about "oooh, exotic machines!".

I think I'll read any sequels to this, but I wouldn't be dashing for them. I'd probably want to wait and get them for a lazy, self-indulgent afternoon, and read them in one go to get into the world and story.

Oh, warning: it has a fair number of fairly explicit sex scenes, most homosexual and one heterosexual. It includes lots of references to forced sex.
Profile Image for Mary.
Author 119 books4,555 followers
June 6, 2011
I just couldn't see how the author was going to tie everything up in the number of pages she had left. I was halfway through the book and scared to death. It builds so seamlessly and Lucio is so tortured and Gabriel so long-suffering and they love each other so much and it was killing me that they couldn't be together! The humiliation Lucio suffers that is contrasted so heart-breakingly with the love and tenderness that Gabriel shows him got me teary. So I wanted the happy-ever-after in neon lights for them and I started to really worry like you do when you're watching a movie and you know there's only twenty mintues left and how in the hell is it going to all come out? But it does and it was such a relief and the end is so good, with both men finding their way. I just can't say enough about it. Classic romance, not to be missed.
Profile Image for Riina Y.T..
Author 7 books58 followers
November 11, 2013
This piece of work is beautifully written! I'm in love with the characters, the story, the setting - just brilliant! Very touching but not depressing, sappy maybe but I loved it. No to mention there's a good amount of hotness! :)

To be honest I had no idea what I was getting myself into with this, it's also the first time I considered this genre; Victorian steampunk-ish and def. AU? I had no idea! And less could I have imagined how great this could be! If there are more well written novels in that genre, I'm game! Because this was a lovely thing to discover.
Profile Image for Rebo.
699 reviews31 followers
August 9, 2016
3.5 stars

A steampunk M/M romance involving a rigid caste system. Who'da thunk?

The Inventor's Companion is exactly that. Set in a steampunk world in which your role in life is determined by birth and tattooed on your hand for all to see. The only ones without tattoos are the aristocracy. Gabriel is an inventor (merchant caste) and spends his time in his workshop, making a meager living off whimsical commissions from the nobility (including a mechanical dog), but his real pride and joy is his secret project--a flying chair. He's a hardworking, frugal, serious man who always makes sure to take care of his two assistants--Andrew and Caleb--and see that they are paid even when money is tight.

In thanks, Caleb and Andrew pool their money together to purchase a night with one of the most sought after companions in the city, Lucio. Companions are the lowest caste, essentially sex slaves who have little to no control or freedom over their lives. They must do whatever their "guests" want of them, and they aren't fed if they aren't able to work. Still, if they do well, they live in relative luxury, and so to the outside world (particularly the working castes who could never afford their time), they're seen as being almost like the aristocracy. Of course, the reality is very different. If a guest injures them, they have to pay for their own medical care, and if they are too damaged to work, they're relegated to the "breeding barns," where they're treated like livestock, living in barely habitable conditions, the men dosed with saffron (think Viagra, but it also allows the men to ejaculate more often) and forced to bed as many as eight women a day. Anyone who tries to escape will be found, and in most cases, killed.

Again, they are essentially sex slaves.

So if you're looking for a glamorous or romanticized portrayal of this kind of life, you may not like this book. (Try something like Teahouse instead.) That isn't to say this book is depressing by any means, either, though.

Gabriel shows up for his birthday present and is of course immediately struck by Lucio. However, he refuses to treat him like anything less than an equal (out of principle and also because he's a member of the fledgling Caste Equality Movement). This catches Lucio off guard, who is used to being treated like little more than a glorified sex doll. Instead of sex, Gabe insists on conversation, actually asking Lucio what his interests are, something that he's not used to. At the end of the evening, Gabe still insists on leaving sex off the table (he can't stand the idea of the money exchanged between them). Still, not wanting to send Gabe home empty handed (especially after how kind he was), Luccio offers him the only thing he can freely give--a kiss--with the explanation that he never kisses anyone. (We later learn that it was actually his first kiss.)

Of course, it's "love at first sight" (but not in the obnoxious, insta-love kinda way, in a more of the, "I can't stop thinking about you" kinda way), and both Luccio and Gabriel, despite their best attempts to the contrary, can't stop thinking about one another. However, both have resolved they'll never see each other again. Luccio is a companion, whose time is not his own and realizes that as a merchant, Gabriel will never be able to afford him. Gabriel is abhorrent to the idea of paying money to see Luccio again, especially since it would mean taking money he could otherwise reinvest in his shop/inventions to do so.

Fate steps in, when one one of the lords, so enchanted with Gabriel's mechanical dog, insists that Gabe attend a ball he's hosting for his niece. He even hires a companion to be Gabe's guide, though he makes sure to use a woman since Gabe is gay and that way won't be distracted. This is Gabe's big break--a chance to mingle with the aristocracy and perhaps get more commissions for his workshop. More commissions means more money, which means he'll be able to work on his flying chair.

Of course, Lucio is there, on the arm of Gabe's patron lord, but Gabe's companion is Cressida, Luccio's only friend at the pleasure house, and she's agreed to help them meet, if only for a few minutes (since she quickly sees how much Gabe cares about Luccio and how well he treats her). This meeting makes Gabe determined to use his money to see Luccio when he can, and Luccio decides he'll use the excuse of needing the occasional trinket to visit Gabe at his shop, and their unconventional relationship begins.

A lot of the book is their getting together when they can while they both work to save up the money for Gabe to buy Luccio's contract. Though Gabe isn't thrilled with the idea of "owning" his lover, he's willing to accept that is the only way they can be together.

The romance is surprisingly sweet, with Gabe insisting that he doesn't want Luccio to be forced to do anything or feel he has to do anything out of obligation. So they don't have sex immediately, and they don't have anal sex for a while after that, and when they do, Luccio tops the first time. Gabe is always giving Luccio things that are just between them, including pleasure, since companions are viewed as not being able to come by many in the aristocracy!

However, if you're looking for hot sex, you won't find it here. There's nothing wrong with the sex in this book, but it's just kinda... there... and it skips or summarizes a lot.

The pacing is a little uneven, too. I feel like it drags a little too much at times, and the ending felt a bit unwieldy.

It's also a shame the world building wasn't a little more fleshed out. It would have been nice to have gotten a name for the city/country where they were--was it the only place in the world? Could it have been possible for Gabe and Luccio to flea to another country where the caste system didn't exist (apparently not?). I also wasn't sure how big the hand tattoos were, and how flexible your roles were within your caste. Like, Gabe is merchant class and he's an inventor, but could he have presumably done something else? Stuff like that, clarified, would have been nice, for instance.

I also thought it was odd how the relationship between Caleb and Andrew was never clarified. It seemed as if they might be lovers, but it wasn't clear if they were (they were clearly both taken by Cassi). I didn't really see the point of not making this more clear. I realize Gabe is dense (it took him until someone said something out loud to figure out for sure that two other characters were lovers when it was pretty obvious). I just didn't get the point of leaving that ambiguous.

Anyway, I enjoyed the book, especially the concept of the castes, and Gabe and Luccio were fun characters, but a lot of little things held it back from being great.
Profile Image for Brigitte Alouqua.
2,112 reviews22 followers
June 12, 2018
Le steampunk, voilà un style que j’aime beaucoup, et je trouve que je n’en lis pas assez du tout 🙁
C’est avec ce livre que je me décide enfin à découvrir la plume d’Ariel alors que j’ai une de ses précédentes parutions dans ma PAL depuis un bon moment ! Le steampunk est, pour moi, un style difficile, car un rien et l’univers peut très vite perdre en sincérité et richesse. Ici, je trouve qu’Ariel c’est plutôt pas mal débrouillée, rien de trop, rien de trop peu, juste ce qu’il faut.
A cet univers, ajoutez une romance peu banal et pourtant émouvante et complète, cela donne un livre complètement addictif, que le lecteur n’a pas envie de poser avant la fin, mais surtout un livre que l’on prend plaisir à lire, avec lequel on aime apprendre à connaître les personnages, les accompagner du début à la fin.
Dans un univers où les gens sont marqués dès leur arrivée au monde, où d’un seul coup d’œil il est possible de savoir de quelle caste fait partie une personne, où les aristos ont tellement plus de pouvoir et d’argent qu’eux seuls peuvent vous ouvrir certaines potes. Essayez de vous faire une place dans ce monde n’est pas facile, lorsque vous êtes un « simple inventeur », si vous n’avez pas de relations, beaucoup de portes vous sont fermées.
Pour son anniversaire, il se voit offrir par deux de ses amis, une soirée dans un endroit chic dont il n’aurait jamais pu franchir les portes dans d’autres circonstances. C’est là qu’il fera la rencontre de Lucio, qui lui fait partie de la caste des compagnons. Lucio doit lui faire passer une bonne soirée, et si celle-ci doit se finir au lit, eh bien il est payé pour ce service. Qui pourrait croire à ce moment-là qu’une suite pourrait ne fut-ce qu’être envisageable entre Lucio et Gabriel ? Certainement pas eux qui ne sont pas de la même caste.
Gabriel n’est pas comme tout le monde, il ne profitera pas de Lucio durant cette soirée, il n’est pas le genre d’homme qui se limite à la beauté, à l’apparence, à sa satisfaction. C’est ce que Lucio appréciera lors de cette soirée, en général mes hommes qu’il accompagne vont au bout des choses, mais pas lui, pas Gabriel, cet homme qui le subjugue.
Ils ne sont malheureusement pas au bot de leur peine, déjà ce problème de caste pour commencer. Ils vont rencontrer pas mal d’obstacles, mais l’amour ne peut-il pas surmonter toutes les épreuves qui se dresseront devant eux ?
Le compagnon de l’inventeur, c’est un univers cohérent avec le genre, un univers qui invite le lecteur à l’évasion, mais c’est également des personnages attachants, que ce soit les principaux u les secondaires, le lecteur prend énormément de plaisir à les rencontrer, à les connaître, à les comprendre. Pour moi, ce livre est idéal si vous n’avez jamais lu de parutions dans le style steampunk, Ariel Tachna a une plume très fluide et relativement addictive. Je suis certaine de relire l’auteure dès que j’en aurai l’occasion.
November 19, 2012
After reading the book's official description and excerpt, I think I expected Lucio to be something like Inara from the TV show Firefly: elegant, cultured, and relatively in control of his life. Maybe he didn't always like his clients, but he could choose to leave behind and never see again any client who really crossed the line.

Yeah, not so much. Over and over, readers were shown how awful Lucio's life really was under its pretty, cushy surface. As long as they were offered enough money, Lucio's handlers seemed less than concerned with his well-being. They arranged for him to meet a client they knew would brutalize him, and then they expected him to get back to work before he was fully healed. The book's first sex scene involved Lucio and one of his clients (who readers were later expected to think of as Gabriel and Lucio's ally) and focused on Lucio's feelings of degradation, which he had never felt so intensely prior to meeting Gabriel. Unless Lucio met with clients and did what they paid him to do, he wasn't given anything to eat. The details about the breeding barns were icing on the horrible cake.

I read this book shortly after finishing Meljean Brook's The Iron Duke, and I think The Iron Duke spoiled me. I was hungry for another exciting steampunk novel. What I expected was another book set in a vivid, rich, interesting, and probably gritty world. What I got was thin and not nearly as satisfying.

The caste system seemed potentially interesting, at first. The problem was that the caste that received almost all of the book's attention was the pleasure caste, and the details of that caste didn't seem quite consistent. On the one hand, the handlers put a great deal of time and money into training Lucio and others to become companions fit to be paraded around by their largely aristocratic clients. On the other hand, the handlers seemed remarkably willing to throw away their considerable investments. Had Lucio been in his thirties and nearing the end of his usefulness to his handlers, I would have found their willingness to sell his time to someone they knew would torture him somewhat more believable. Cressida, Lucio's friend and another companion, at least talked about being tired of what she was forced to do – I could see the handlers noting her burn-out and deciding that she would be more profitable as a breeder. With Lucio, the details didn't seem to add up. He suddenly went from a pampered, prized companion to someone his handlers felt could be abused without a fuss.

While the caste system was at least somewhat interesting, the same could not be said of Gabriel's inventions.. He invented a mechanical pet dog (I'm guessing something like AIBO robotic pets, only more realistic), a fan capable of cooling an entire room, personal heaters, and a flying chair. I expected better from a steampunk novel. Everything except the flying chair was something I could buy at Walmart. Again, I think I was spoiled by The Iron Duke – where were the amazing prosthetics and imaginative inventions?

A so-so steampunk setting would have been forgivable if the romance was really good. Lucio and Gabriel's initial attraction to each other was fantastic. I liked reading about the first time Gabriel purchased a little of Lucio's time (sort of like their first date), and Tachna managed to surprise me with the way their first time having sex played out.

Unfortunately, the romantic aspects of the book were not without their problems. In her effort to show that Gabriel was not like Lucio's clients, Tachna managed to bring Lucio's clients to my mind during all or most of Gabriel and Lucio's intimate moments. I wanted to read about the two of them together without thinking about Lucio having sex with Lord Stuart or whoever else. I wanted Lucio and Gabriel to get to the point where, when they were together, it was just the two of them, no one else, not even in their own minds. There were maybe only one or two instances where I think Tachna accomplished this, and one of those instances was in a sexual fantasy Lucio wrote for Gabriel in a letter.

Then there was Gabriel's jealousy. Gabriel knew the conditions under which Lucio lived, and he knew Lucio didn't have a choice about what he did, but Gabriel was jealous anyway. I could understand this, up to a point. However, after it seemed like Gabriel had finally gotten beyond his jealousy issues, a blip involving popped up. I was impressed when Gabriel seemed to come to terms with what happened fairly quickly. Perhaps he had finally grown up, I thought. I didn't mind that he had needed a bit of a breather and some time to collect himself...but then the jealousy popped up again later. I never got the feeling that Gabriel had finally beaten those feelings. Every time I thought he'd gotten over them, they came back. For a guy who was supposedly so understanding about the constraints people of different castes had to live under, Gabriel had a lot of problems accepting the things Lucio had little control over or had to do for his and Cressida's emotional well-being.

The book could have been far shorter than it was, or Tachna could have at least shifted the bulk of the page count some, so that certain things that would have benefited from more attention could have gotten it. So much time was spent on Gabriel trying to overcome his feelings of jealousy, on the horrible things Lucio had to resign himself to doing, on emphasizing how much more different than Lucio's clients Gabriel was, and on Gabriel's efforts to earn more money to buy Lucio's contract. I got frustrated with the characters for not noticing glaringly obvious oncoming problems. No one had any idea how much Lucio's contract would cost – either the handlers wouldn't tell them, or no one felt it was safe to ask. So, instead of having a specific goal, their goal was "as much as we can possibly earn." How were they to know if the amount was even earn-able, or if they had already earned enough? Also, no one seemed to think about

I wanted to love this. The excerpt had me so excited that I bought the book right away, even though I knew an ARe Dreamspinner Press sale was coming up. I wish that it had felt more like Gabriel had grown and gotten past his jealousy issues, that Tachna had written more tender moments between Lucio and Gabriel that hadn't mentioned Lucio's clients, and that the world had felt richer and better developed. I am at least happy that the book ended with Lucio and Gabriel's relationship on what felt like a positive note (if not a completely wrapped up one, since ). I'm willing to try Tachna's works again if I come across one that looks interesting to me, but I'm sad that this one turned out to only be so-so.

(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
Profile Image for Silverius.
107 reviews7 followers
January 29, 2012
Discovering a gay steampunk romance elicited a squeal of glee, not unlike that of one plagued by Bieber fever - however that affliction is much more grave. Who could have thought a combination of such marvelous things could exist between the pages of one book. After several recommendations, I immediately ordered this novel, eagerly awaiting its arrival. However, this book ultimately disappointed me.

As I said, It was glorious finding a novel compiling a gay romance AND steampunk elements. It's nice to know someone took the time to craft a novel from two considerably obscure genres to the preponderance of the general public.

Tachna's world was well-configured. One could tell she took the time to craft a world where iniquity and inequality were acceptable without becoming entirely preposterous. The disparity between the castes was fascinating, but I would have liked to learn more about the political climate and any other castes that might exist. I am dubious to believe that the world could function properly with only for or five castes. The steampunnk elements of the novel were discreetly and elegantly dotted throughout, enabling anyone to read the novel without causing difficulty comprehending the world, an imperilment many steampunk novels have for first-time readers to the genre. However, some of the contraptions were moderately anachronistic, including the fan, and I had a hellaciously arduous time imagining Gabriel's flying chair.

Generally, all the characters were enjoyable. Gabriel, noble and stalwart to the end, is a character many men and women will pine over. In the beginning, I must confess, I found him slightly aggravating and too good to be true, always telling Lucio he mustn't do things Lucio truly wanted to do. Gabriel, though wanting Lucio to feel as equal as any other person, was often the cause of strife between the couple. When Lucio wanted a kiss, Gabriel refused for fear it might not be by Lucio's volition. Often, I found myself saying, "Just kiss him already, damn it! He wants it as badly as you do!" Lucio's character was much more believable to me. Callous and aloof from many years of indentured sexual service to repulsive aristocrats, he slowly allows himself to accept that Gabriel loves him for who he is and wants him as his lover. I could easily imagine this young boy hardening himself to the world, only to have this impeccable facade melt away during intimate times with Gabriel. All of the supporting characters including Cressida, Caleb, Andrew, and even Lord Stuart in the end, were unique and enjoyable as people. Cressida in particular caught my eye, a combination of elegance, wit and audacity that warmed my heart to the woman.

What truly disappointed me about this story - and do not misconstrue my meaning by this- is how shallow it was. It reminded me of many YA novels where two people fall magically and inexplicably in love but just cannot be together due to reasons beyond their control. There was no major conflict other than the fact that Gabriel and Lucio could not be together. In reality, their economical status and the political injustice were the only things keeping them apart. The story was lacking an antagonist, even though I thought Lady Merydith might fill that part for a time, to keep them separated. Perhaps if there had been just one sinister villain, the story would have compelled me to a greater degree. Don't get me wrong, many times I found myself "awing" over something that Gabriel and Lucio shared, and the explicit sex scenes were steamy and sensual, but were just not enough to meet my criteria.

There have been rumors of a second installment, featuring Cressida in a more prominent role, but considering I continuously found myself seeing how many pages remained until I was finished, I likely won't be searching for a sequel.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a sweet, romantic and angsty story about two gay men vying for their liberties and each others' affection, without much of a concrete plotline. I am quite happy, however, to find an author intrepid enough to undertake such a creative story.
Profile Image for Emanuela ~plastic duck~.
805 reviews115 followers
December 26, 2011
3.5 stars.

The world building was awesome and it's clear the author thought of it thoroughly. The society is organized in a caste system, which is almost unchangeable. People carry tattoos on their hands stating their caste, only the aristocrats have no tattoo. In the society there is unrest and a few people are trying to make people understand the injustice of that system.

Gabriel Blackstone is an inventor and he belongs to the merchant chaste. Lucio is a companion and his station in society is very close to that of a slave: he can't buy his freedom, but he lives in luxury and can use gold and trinkets to buy things for himself. Lucio is given for a night to Gabriel as a birthday present, but Gabriel, who is a member of the Caste Equality movement, can't bring himself to use Lucio for sex, he wants to treat him as a person and give him the dignity of a free man. Lucio is a young man with a passion for machines and it's a common ground and an excuse for the two men to meet again after their first encounter.

I liked to see how Gabriel's profession and Lucio's passion complemented to influence Gabriel's inventions. Lucio, with his knowledge of the aristocrats' way of thinking, makes Gabriel see his machines under a different light and prompts him to improve them to appeal to the highest chaste. Again, it's a sign of how much thought the author has given to the setting.

My problem was that sometimes it seemed the author answered questions which might arise directly on the page. As a reader I don't need to know all the hows and whys of a secret meeting, it's clear the people involved have thought of the details, I don't want to know that the basement has only one entrance and the hansom is hidden from sight, etc. etc. with the characters informing each other about these details. In my opinion it makes the reading a bit exhausting. I think one third of the book was made of these detailed plans. Instead of making the characters talk line after line about it, a paragraph with a sketch of the situation would have sufficed in my opinion.

The love story was very sweet and cute, the hurdles the protagonists had to go over to be together were all handled and tied up in the end, there were many interesting secondary characters. Sometimes the characters were too emotional in my opinion, but even if there were many things working against the main couple, the drama was not too angsty. I appreciated that the unpleasantness of Lucio's profession was not underestimated. The worst part of it happened off page, but both Gabriel and Lucio discuss about the way it could affect their relationship, especially Gabriel has to accept that his lover has sex with people he is bound to meet because of his own job as inventor.

I'll certainly read something else by this author.
Profile Image for Trix.
1,323 reviews105 followers
September 26, 2011
I liked this story!

The background of the story was similar to 19th Century England, the only difference being the tattoos that were forced on certain casts. I liked the idea and would have enjoyed a more in-depth analysis of it, not just having to read time and time again how the characters wanted the system changed.

Lucio and Gabriel made an interesting couple. And while I could understand Lucio's immediate reaction to Gabriel's behavior, I wasn't sure what exactly had interested Gabriel in Lucio in the first place... other than stubbornly proving that he wasn't like everyone else. But they developed a sweet relationship, where Gabriel played the forever attentive lover, mindful of his partner, giving Lucio enough time to separate the sexual nature of his profession from the intimate responses between lovers. However, at point it became a little too sweet for me... with Gabriel always showering Lucio with so much attention, making such lavish gestures and alwas playing the martyr so as not to impose on Lucio. It made sense in a way, if Lucio was soo affected by what he did as a living but I personally thought it a bit far fetched for Gabriel to be so self sacrificing.

I can't say I adored this book because ultimately most characters turned out to be good (with the exception of Lady Merydith) and I was expecting a larger crowd of villains. I was expecting some evil plans from Lord Stuart and at one point, even Cressida. But it was just the sadistic noble woman, the vague reference of handlers and a short appearance of the guards.

Overall, it was a nice story, with sweet characters that deserved each other! Not something to remember but pleasant nonetheless.
Profile Image for Elci  .
706 reviews10 followers
July 23, 2012
It was AU, and steampunk-ish. I loved Gabriel (the inventor), he was quiet and somewhat shy, but participated in political protests to abolish or at least change the caste system which was very unfair. Lucio was the companion (escort). He was born into this caste and like Gabriel he had a tattoo on his hand to show this. Anyway, they meet and like each other because Gabriel treats him like a person and not a sexual object (gasp!). This is the story of how they get together (in this society that was quite the adventure.)

There are scenes where Lucio has sex with women and sex with other men. This made sense as he was a companion and couldn't just quit. It's not until someone buys a companion's contract can they quit working and become monogamous. There was also a plot line that I thought was left dangling and that made the rating go down. Overall, it was a good read.
Profile Image for Wyndslash.
168 reviews17 followers
April 16, 2011
4.75 stars

I can't say enough how much I enjoyed this book. It was romantic, passionate, and clearly a feel-good book as most of the major conflicts were addressed after the facts. I would like to see a sequel, just to see how the author would treat the other slightly loose ends in the book, but it clearly can be a stand alone, and the reader left to presume about the rest.

The visual formatting of the book is also very nice, however there are very few typos that don't affect the enjoyment but does prevent me from treating this as a perfect 5-star.
Profile Image for Lillian Francis.
Author 15 books95 followers
April 10, 2015
I spent half this book waiting for 'something bad to happen', and once it did it came in droves. The anticipation gave my reading an edge that meant I struggled to read more than a couple of chapters at a time. However, Luc and Gabe were a great couple and I was rooting for them from the very beginning.
The world building impressed me, the elements of steampunk and the caste system, and the cast of supporting characters were likeable and well rounded.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Ruth.
128 reviews5 followers
April 30, 2011
I could barely finish this book. It was so sappy and had pages and pages of the mc's expressing their feelings for each other. It could have done with a good editing down to about half its length.
Profile Image for Erica.
1,478 reviews27 followers
August 23, 2015
As much as I enjoyed this (and I do love me some steampunk) I felt like there was too much left unsettled.
Profile Image for nisie draws.
318 reviews6 followers
June 8, 2017
did not finish. it started out promising but after a while i just got bored of the characters having the same arguments over and over again.
Profile Image for Les Chroniques Aléatoires.
1,615 reviews16 followers
July 4, 2018
À travers ce livre, je découvre le Steampunk pour la première fois, l’appréciant et m’incitant à me tourner vers ce gene qui m’était inconnu jusque là. Le Compagnon de l’Inventeur est une belle romance, un univers réunissant politique, morale et réalité.

Dès leur naissance, l’être humain est définit par des castes, visible grâce au tatouage incrusté sur l’un de leur poignet. Gabriel, de la caste des inventeurs, se voit offrir par ses associés une soirée avec un compagnon, au Palais de Plaisirs, pour son anniversaire. Ce soir-là va basculer sa vie tranquille mais aussi celle de Lucio, le compagnon. L’un étant d’une caste inférieure, et l’autre d’une plus privilégiée en apparence mais qui l’enferme en réalité. Ils vont se dévoiler, se découvrir, laissant de côté les obligations de leurs castes respectives ainsi que leurs valeurs. Le compagnon est loin d’être inexpressif et froid, oubliant même un instant de faire plaisir par devoir et non par envie. Le comportement, plus respectueux qu’il aurait pensé, de Gabriel, joue énormément. Il ne ressemble en aucun cas aux invités que Lucio honore d’habitude, ce qui lui plaît instantanément. Même chose pour Gabriel qui ne le considère pas comme du bétail. Jamais il ne sera traité de cette manière de sa part. Et avec cette nuit passée ensemble, il fera tout en son pouvoir pour l’avoir à ses côtés.

Le système de caste nous place dans une réalité déconcertante dès le début. Certes, nous ne sommes pas tatoués, ayant plus de libertés. Pourtant, il expose les inégalités qu’on retrouvent à notre époque, notamment à travers Lucio qui réprésente l’esclavage sexuel. Les compagnons font également pensés à des troupeaux de bétails qu’on utilisent, qu’on fait réproduire contre leur gré. Cet aspect du livre est intéressant, nous transmettant une certaine morale. Cependant, il n’est pas assez développé. La caste principale est l’aristocratie qui possède tous les droits. Ensuite, il y des castes comme les Gardiens (force de l’ordre) et les Inventeurs, sans oublier les Entraîneurs (qui entraînent et gèrent les compagnons)… Et les autres ? L’univers est riche, or, il n’est pas assez cultivé malheureusement. La romance, bien qu’elle soit attachante, est parfois trop présente, ne permettant pas à cette richesse de se révéler. Du moins, pas assez… Malgré tout, l’histoire est cohérente, nous invitant à tourner les pages afin de se plonger davantage dans cet univers. Les personnages, bien construit et touchant, rendent cette lecture plus dynamique. Par contre, on se sent un peu frustré de ne pas en voir plus concernant la relation entre Wakefield et Lord Stuart, et un peu déstabilisé par celle entre Caleb et Andrew car on ne sait si ils sont amant ou non (j’avoue que je me suis emmêlé un peu les crayons avec ça).

L’écriture d’Ariel Tachna marie, avec fluidité, des perspectives morales et réalistes, tout en laissant son imagination nous emportés dans son monde.
Profile Image for NosBBF.
209 reviews9 followers
November 3, 2018
L’ambiance steampunk, j’adore.
Je ne vous cache pas que c’est la couverture qui m’a tout de suite attirée — ça et une recommandation Amazon particulièrement pertinente. C’était une lecture faite pour moi. J’ai apprécié que l’histoire ce déroule dans ce monde de changement, de progrès, d’inventions. Mais ce qui a clairement retenu mon attention, ce sont les castes.
Et ces castes sont au cœur de ce qui sépare nos deux personnages. L’aristocratie est telle qu’on peut se l’imaginer, profitant de son status. Pendant que les petits gens sont eux obligés de dépendre des aristocrates. De quoi alimenter une grosse partie du roman puisque, chacun à sa manière, Gabriel et Lucio dépendent de cette aristocratie souvent nauséabonde. Par chance, ils ont aussi des alliés parmi celle-ci, et pas des moindres, mais cela ne suffit pas toujours et nos personnages vont vivre des moments difficiles.

J’ai beaucoup aimé la plume de l’auteure, les champs lexicaux sont savamment utilisés pour nous immerger dans l’histoire. Par contre, je ne vais pas vous raconter de salades : certains passages de ce roman sont ulta-ULTRA-malaisants — je les ai adorés, néanmoins. L’auteure a fait ce choix pour enrichir le contexte, alors c’est peut-être osé mais au moins, c’est clair. Moi, je ne fais que vous avertir car je sais que tout le monde ne partage pas mes préférences 😉

Les personnages :
Gabriel et Lucio sont charmants et révérencieux l’un envers l’autre. J’aime les mauvais garçons mais étrangement, j’aime aussi (voire plus) les très gentils. Ils sont très différents l’un de l’autre mais ont tous les deux un charisme fou. Je suis férue de ce genre de personnages.
Aussi, malgré le cru du contexte, j’ai trouvé la romance exceptionnellement douce et belle. Un gros coup de cœur.

Alors si vous n’êtes pas frileux quant à mes avertissements, je vous recommande ce roman !
Profile Image for Cat Oaks.
111 reviews2 followers
March 19, 2020
I'd recently read Langdowns series by Ariel Tachna and was totally head over heels for her M/M romances, so I gave The inventor's companion a go. I didn't regret it. In a ficticious world where castes rule, Gabriel and Lucio met and fall in love. However, their assigned professions prevent them from being together since Lucio is a companion, a person whose job is to procure sexual pleasure to the high society members. Gabriel, being an inventor, is rather independent but second class citizen al the same without means to save Lucio from his fate.
What I loved:
Both characters. They are both interesting. Lucio a resigned soul, in a way, who is used to serve the purpose his society has assigned; Gabriel, on the other side, realizes that every individual must have a right to decide what they want from life. They fight, in their own way, to be together and what they do seems to be realistic from their side.
I could feel their despair and particularly Lucio's pain and anguish when he finally acknowledges that the kind of life he has is most unfair.
The setting. It was interesting to imagine a different world, with different rules, kind of old fashioned, kind of modern.
What I didn't like:
The pacing. At times it was difficult to follow the description of the inventions or procedures. There was a lot of recaps of things that we read first-hand and then you have to read one character telling another the whole thing. It could have been spared.
Unfinished sub-plots. Apparently there's no sequel so I'd like to know what happened to their friends.
Profile Image for Olivia.
472 reviews
July 7, 2022
4.5. Sweet, sappy love that defies great adversity—yes please. It was really fun and heartwarming to read a story of a couple who just fall in love so quickly and do everything in their power to secure their future.

Creative alternate world without being overly complicated. Reminded me of Merry Farmer’s talented work in the Peter and he Wolves series.
666 reviews2 followers
June 15, 2018
Le steampunk, voilà un style que je ne connaissais pas mais que j'ai beaucoup aimé. ce monde où la différence des castes est tellement marquée et où l'amour entre elles est interdit. l'auteur nous montre que les différences peuvent être surmontées et que l'amour est le plus fort
Profile Image for Emilie.
4 reviews5 followers
August 15, 2011
(From the review printed in Steampunk Chronicle) Candy is dandy but steampunk is quicker-

There’s seldom call to start a review with the word “SQUEE!!!,” especially as a (former) professional broadcast journalist, but sometimes one gets a little peanut butter into her neighbor’s chocolate – and a delectable creation is born. I love a good Steampunk tale, and I love me some M/M (NO, not the candy that melts in your mouth, not in your hand. If you don’t know – perhaps you shouldn’t look it up. One can’t unlearn things sometimes, no matter how hard you try). So here goes: Squee!!! Finally, a good gay Steampunk romance novel.
The Inventor’s Companion, the fifth romance novel by Ariel Tachna, follows inventor Gabriel Blackburn as he encounters his first Companion, an expensive plaything from the lowest rung of the city’s social hierarchy – the Pleasure Cast. Gabriel, an active member of the Cast Equality movement, vows to take no pleasure in the companion, Lucio, who was hired for an evening by the inventor’s employees as a birthday gift for the boss. Lucio, fascinated by a “guest” who is interested in him as a person and not as the human equivalent of a toilet, falls quickly in love with the handsome inventor. The obstacles that the two must overcome to have a relationship are large and multifaceted, and the emotions bubble forth powerfully. (Let’s be honest – the sex is WAY HOT.) So, full marks in the M/M column of this sweet recipe.
Unlike the many so-called Steampunk romances, which simply take a standard bodice-ripper and glue on a few cogs whilst two airships pass in the night, Tachna guides the story to a place that showcases the versatility of the genre; she takes the moralities and social conventions of a Victorian-esque Era and subverts them, challenging social issues that still foul our better angels today. Specifically, she examines the fettering mindsets of a forced cast system. All of the inhabitants in Gabriel’s world – short of the Aristocrats – are tattooed at birth with a symbol which locks them into their cast. The back of Gabriel’s hand bears the balance scales of the merchant class, whereas Lucio’s inked fan marks him as little more than a slave to his handlers, or if he’s lucky, as the sole companion of an Aristocrat who purchases his contract. The rights of the haves overshadow the abuses to the have-nots. The outward glamour of the Companion’s lives, with fine clothes that please the eyes of Aristocrats and polished manners, hides the dehumanization and abuse that each of them suffer. Gabriel’s interest in Lucio as a man opens the companion’s eyes to what love and respect ought to be, making his lot in life both better and worse. Furthermore, the tale goes deeper than just Lucio and Gabriel, as the decisions that each make to love the other send ripples into the lives of friends and acquaintances in casts both above and below them. Really, a well developed and completely satisfying Steampunk story. (And the sex grows all the more hot for it. Did I mention my urge to yell “Squee!!!!?”)
If you are not an M/M reader, I would caution you to what you are getting into. It’s not PG-13 in any sense, and a few moments are more than R-rated. But for Steampunk fans that like this branch of romance, I say this is your lucky day. Feel free to act like a kid in a candy store. I look forward to finding more Steampunk romance like The Inventor’s Companion.
More about Ariel Tachna’s novels, include All for One, Checkmate, A Summer Place , The Matelot, and The Inventor’s Companion, can be found at DreamSpinnerPress.com.
Reviewer Emilie P. Bush is the author of two Steampunk novels: Chenda and the Airship Brofman (a 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Semi-finalist) and The Gospel According to Verdu, both available at your favorite on-line book retailer, on Kindle, and in all other digital formats from Smashwords.com (worldwide distribution).
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