Guest Blog: Cindy Spencer Pape
Moonlight & Mechanicals, A Gaslight Chronicles novel by Cindy Spencer Pape
First of all, I’d like to thank Lucy for having me here today. Secondly, I’d like to chat about a little something that comes up in several of my steampunk books: condom use.
Whether you find that protection interferes with the fantasy in a romance novel or not, sometimes I think we do our readers and our characters a service by showing them being cautious. Condoms in the mid-nineteenth century in England were more common than you might think. In fact, condoms go back a lot further than you may have guessed. I’ve researched this more extensively than I ever thought I’d need to, and here is a little synopsis of what I’ve learned.
The first written reference to what we now call a condom was by an Italian scientist named Fallopio (yes, as in Fallopian tubes) in 1564. He claimed to have “invented” a device to prevent the spread of venereal disease. The description isn’t very detailed, but apparently it was a linen sheath that fit over the glans. He actually tested it on 1100 men and none of them became infected. So the condom for disease prevention isn’t a recent phenomenon. Another doctor published something similar in 1597. From there forward, there’s a pretty clear record of condom use and innovation. They’re mentioned in a French play from 1655, maybe in the correspondence of two French noblewomen from the late 1600s and quite extensively in the memoirs of the legendary Giacomo Casanova, published in 1797. The famous lover didn’t much like them and there’s an engraving in the book of he and a friend inflating them like balloons to entertain a pair of ladies, thus starting a proud tradition carried out by high school boys to this day. The word condom dates in print to 1706, in a poem, but the origins of the word remain a mystery. Legend says that a Dr. Condom introduced them to Charles II of England as a means of preventing additional illegitimate offspring, but no support of this has ever been found, and it’s now assumed to be a myth.
By the late 1700s you could find prophylactics made of hand sewn goat, sheep, or cow intestine, tanned fish skin, oiled silk, or even very fine leather. Some covered the whole penis, others were caps or “capottes” that just covered the glans, and most had a drawstring at the base to hold them in place. Condom technology really took off in the 1800s. They had great names like cundums, French Letters, French Preservatives, Male Safes, English Armor, and “Patent Circular Protector.” Early experiments with rubber were fairly unsuccessful, until Goodyear and Hancock (separately) in about 1844 invented the vulcanization process. The new technique allowed for much more durable protection, though the resulting condoms were thicker than those made of skin. They were also designed to be washed out and reused until the rubber started to crumble. The first advertisement for rubber condoms appeared in the New York Times in 1861, so we know they were widely available by then. In 1873, the Comstock Act prohibited the sale of contraceptives by mail in theUS, so for many years, they became harder to get with relative anonymity. The reservoir tip was added in 1901, and a method for making them without seams was discovered inGermany in 1912. In 1930 the latex condom was introduced, thus creating the rubber we know today.
Below is a little snippet from “Moonlight & Mechanicals.” I hope you can see what I mean about the protection fitting into and even being a part of the story.
“I didn’t get to the chemist.” His breath was shallow and choppy as he peeled away the rest of her clothes. When she stood there in nothing but stockings and garters, he groaned.
“In the drawer beside the bed. I stole some from the boys’ bathroom.” Her hand moved down to a garter and he growled.
“Leave those.” He’d remember the sight of her in just her stockings for the rest of his life. Now he wondered just how experimental his little firebrand could be. “Put your hands on the bureau and face the mirror.”
Her eyes widened, but she did as he said, leaning over the dresser with her delectable bottom pointed at him. It was all he could do not to spend then and there. With haste, he withdrew a French letter from the drawer and tied the sheepskin sheath over his penis. Then he stalked up to Wink.
“Watch the mirror.” He lowered his mouth to the side of her throat, sucking lightly on the spot where he’d marked her the day before. She quivered under his touch, moaning when he used his hands on her breasts. He watched over her shoulder, entranced by the sight of his darker fingers trailing over her fair skin and peach nipples. “You have freckles on your shoulders.” He hadn’t noticed those in his dimly lit room the night before.
She didn’t respond. He could see her fight to keep her eyes open as her arousal deepened.
He ran one hand down her flat belly to her mons. “Spread your legs a little and lean on the bureau more.”
She complied instantly, her backside brushing against his erection. Liam tested her, found her wet and ready for him. He positioned himself at her entrance and pressed inside.
“Oh.” Her eyes flew open and she met his gaze in the mirror. “That’s…nice.”
The angle allowed for deeper penetration and Liam nodded. He kissed her neck again, and used his fingers on her clitoris as he stroked in and out. It wasn’t long before she cried out his name and convulsed around him, her tight muscles milking his erection. His own climax speared through him and he shuddered helplessly as he poured himself into her heat.
Engineer Winifred “Wink” Hadrian has been in love with Inspector Liam McCullough for years, but is beginning to lose hope when he swears to be a lifelong bachelor. Faced with a proposal from a Knight of the Round Table and one of her closest friends, Wink reluctantly agrees to consider him instead.
Because of his dark werewolf past, Liam tries to keep his distance, but can’t say no when Wink asks him to help find her friend’s missing son. They soon discover that London’s poorest are disappearing at an alarming rate, after encounters with mysterious “mechanical” men. Even more alarming is the connection the missing people may have with a conspiracy against the Queen.
Fighting against time—and their escalating feelings for each other—Wink and Liam must work together to find the missing people and save the monarchy before it’s too late…
About the Author:
Award-winning author of over forty popular books and novellas in paranormal, historical, and erotic romance, Cindy Spencer Pape is an avid reader. According to The Romance Studio, her plots are “full of twist and turns that keep the reader poised at the edge of their seat.” Joyfully Reviewed said, her “colorful characters and plot building surprises kept me spellbound,” and Romantic Times Magazine says her “characters are appealing, and passionate sex leads to a satisfying romance.”
Cindy firmly believes in happily-ever-after. Married for more than twenty-five years to her own, sometimes-kilted hero, she lives in southern Michigan with him and two college-age sons, along with an ever-changing menagerie of pets. Cindy has been, among other things, a banker, a teacher, and an elected politician, but mostly an environmental educator, though now she is lucky enough to write full-time. Her degrees in zoology and animal behavior almost help her comprehend the three male humans who share her household.