Book Reviews

The Matchboy and the Inventor by Pelaam at JMS Books

Genre Gay / Steampunk / Erotic Romance
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 07-May-2024

Book Blurb

A familiar tale with a twist. Vern's life as a poor matchboy is hard and cruel. Starving and freezing, he loses consciousness, and when he awakens, thinks he must have died and gone to heaven.

Instead, he finds he's been rescued by Oren, a doctor and inventor, who lives with his sister and brother-in-law.

Each man is attracted to the other, but both fear to speak of the attraction thinking it would be misinterpreted, especially when a friend of Oren's seeks to keep the couple apart.

But Vern has a plan. He crafts a gift for Oren, intended to reveal his heart in a way he's unable to put into words. Will the matchboy's gift win the heart of the inventor?



First edition published at Silver Publishing, December 2013.

Second edition published at Fireborn Publishing, April 2016.


Book Review

Like many fairy tales, the original version of this story, 'The Little Girl with the Matchsticks' by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen, is a very sad affair. It was first published in 1845, and that is roughly when this newer version takes place as well. However, 'The Matchboy and the Inventor' is set in an alternative, Steampunk-ish universe and has a far, far happier outcome. It is written with the period and its "mechanical wonders" in mind, but left me feeling as though I'd read a true fairy tale.

Vern is a poor match boy who tries to make a living in an unforgiving world. Different from the main character in the original story, he gets rescued and has a chance at a new life. His wonder as he discovers the delights of warm clothes, enough food to eat, and a beautiful room with a soft bed to sleep in pulled me right in. And when he begins to explore the mechanical world that his rescuer, the inventor Oren, lives in, I was right by Vern’s side. No wonder he has trouble imagining that his quickly deepening love for Oren could ever be returned in kind – Oren is an accomplished engineer. But Vern learns quickly, and even constructs a beautiful gift for Oren, although he cannot imagine having the courage to show it to him.

Oren had planned to rescue Vern, but is hesitant about admitting the depth of his feelings. He doesn’t want to take advantage of Vern, and it takes a threat from a man he'd thought of as a friend for Oren to realize he needs to act if he doesn’t want to lose Vern. Except – it is almost too late, and the final third of the book (which was added to the original version) was suspenseful enough to keep me on the edge of my seat. And when these two men do come together, they are very tender and gentle with each other, helping to illustrate not just their undeniable passion but also the depth of their mutual love and respect for each other.

If you like sweet fairy tales whose happy ending makes up for the initial angst, if you enjoy reading about men who are an unlikely match at first glance, yet fit together perfectly once they focus on what's important to them, and if you're looking for a sweet read with the slightly otherworldly feel of a Steampunk story, then you will probably like this novella.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. The second edition of this book was provided by the publisher for the purpose of a review.


Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novella, 20170 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 13-April-2024
Price $4.49 ebook
Buy Link