Fr some reason, Amazon just recently started recommending a fuck tonne (steampunk spelling) of Steampunk novels.
The first one I picked up, The Falling Machine, wasn't so great.
The next one was like a weird-west steampunk story that absolutely crossed genres. The Half-Made World, by Felix Gilman. It was a good novel, with potential to be great. It's a very difficult novel to describe. It's not set on Earth, but rather a world that is still in the process of being...constructed out of nothing. There are two great powers in this continually growing world: the Line, and the Gun. Order and chaos, basically.
The Line is a perpetually Industrial society of gray machines and streets and gray men. Their empire steamrolls over everything in its path and stamps the mark of progress upon all it mercilessly conquers.
The Gun is a loose alliance of demon-possessed Guns that operate in the hands of super-powerful "Agents". This idea is very similar to the Sixth Gun. But the demons within the Guns control (and empower) the men wielding them. A single Agent can kill a hundred men of the Line. They are forces of pure, unadulterated chaos, destroying or ruining all they come across.
And when the Gun and the Line meet, there are no bystanders left to survive.
So most people tend to live in little clusters of one-road towns, like something out of the wild west. Hoping they draw the attention of neither the Line nor the Gun...
It's like Gilman took the wild west, added steampunk and demons. Along with a dose of magic and some aliens. Like I said, hard to describe.
The third one I picked up initially sounded like a sappy romance set in a steampunk backdrop, but it turned out to be something far different. The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross. This story takes steampunk and adds an almost League of Extraordinary Gentlemen aspect.
There are people being born into this age who have special abilities. One man gathers a group of them together to investigate the use of automatons to kill people. He comes across the main character, a girl who seems to be the living embodiment of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. She struggles through the story to master the two sides of herself, the angel, and the devil. Lots of crazy steampunk inventions and conventions. Filled with over-the-top action and adventure and punching. Pretty light on romance, actually.
There was another suggested steampunk amazon crapped onto my recommendation. The Vampire Empire saga, by Clay and Susan Griffith. This is another book that refuses to sit firmly in any single genre. It's steampunk, but is set in the future.
In the late 1800s, Vampires rose up from the shadows and shattered the great empires of man. Because vampires are not the walking dead in this story, but simply a different, living species, they are not destroyed by sunlight, only greatly weakened by it. So the empires of man were pushed towards the equator, and there, the British Empire has since become the Equatorial Empire.
Technological development has been retarded in many ways, since it is focused almost entirely on developing ways to fight vampires. So you have many strange steampunk staples. Like floating ships and alchemical sabers.
And...a superhero...A Scarlet Pimpernel type called the Greyfriar. The only mortal who can stand against the vampires. A hero of legend, he comes to the rescue of Princess Adele, who has a Gurkha soldier as her personal guard and was trained by a Samurai. So she ain't exactly helpless. Plus, she has a geomantic power she hardly comprehends, which could spell the downfall of the vampire nation.
Again, romantic elements, but they take a back seat to the balls-to-the wall action.
All in all, fun books. Although Half-Made World did tend to drag in places.
"You must be proud, bold, pleasant, resolute,
And now and then stab, as occasion serves."
Edward II: Act 2 Scene 1, by Christopher Marlowe