Rachel Eliason’s Building Beauty certainly has a plot and setting that distinguish it from other steampunk stories.
Taking place during World War I, the protagonist is a young man named Alejandro (although the Amazon page says “Alexander”) serving in the Russian army who is sent to Siberia for a special assignment.
When he arrives he is quickly taken to a factory that builds automatons. The officer in charge explains that there is a “social disease” of Russian soldiers frequenting brothels. Things would be so much better, he says, if the troops could be… err… serviced by an automaton in the form of a common prostitute.
In short, Alejandro’s job is to build a sex robot.
He is not thrilled with the assignment.
Of all the men in Mother Russia I must be the most ill equipped for this assignment.
Why does he feel so little confidence in his ability to do the job? You might be able to guess that before it is revealed, but it becomes obvious toward the end of the story.
And when the Russian Revolution begins, his job becomes dangerous as well as uncomfortable.
Building Beauty has an interesting story but could definitely have been edited better. Punctuation is a problem in this ebook and I’m not sure why the main character is named Alexander in the synopsis but called Alejandro in the story.
Also, I’m torn on the subject matter, but I won’t say why because of spoilers. Suffice to say, the protagonist won’t appeal to everyone. But if you want a different type of steampunk, you could do worse than pick up Building Beauty for $0.99.