Alexia Tarabotti, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs.
Then he disappears - leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria. But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. Even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can.
She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.
After reading the first book in the series (to which you can find the story behind my discovery of Alexia and her parasol inclinations as well as a little Steampunk fun when I guest posted over at Not-Really-Southern Vamp Chick here), I have to say I had been eagerly awaiting the next in the series with baited and gas lit breath...
Of course, the day arrived, and I eagerly made my purchase. From whence it sat, in my ginormous (that's a word, right?) pile of TBR tomes. And sat.
And, then, I had to read it. Sorely, I missed Alexia. Little bit prejudiced (ack, that just sounds odd) being of the Italian persuasion myself.
As with the first book, I very much enjoyed a few key things that seem to define this particular sect of the Steampunk genre. Gail Carriger delightfully mixes the paranormal with a touch of Victorian Steampunk in way that seems to be almost seamless. Word after word, complex and full of color that painted the picture of this world...that I strangely would have skimmed quickly over in some novels, but not so here. The fact that our heroine is in fact happily (we think!) married to her Alpha werewolf, muhjah to the Queen, and best friend to the flamboyant Lord Akeldama, you would think at first look all is well in London. I mean, even Ivy, with her hideous hats is engaged!
But, all is in fact, not well.
It seems there is a strange affliction affecting the ghosts, vampires, and werewolves at strange intervals....they become mortal and all that implies. The only one not to be influenced by the phenomena is Alexia herself. Then there is the matter of her Alpha husband. Lord Maccon doesn't always share every tid bit of information, either about his work at the BUR, his pack (hello, darling husband, go ahead and let the entire regiment pack camp out on the front lawn!), or his own past (there are a few things you should share, really). Then he off and disappears to Scotland and his former pack without so much as a word to her directly. Which means his practical Alpha preternatural wife must contend with the Queen and her advisors, her best friend and her horrible hats, her sister (tgif that I am on only child *g), the pack and Major Channing Channing, and the strangely beautiful yet altogether unsettling Madame Lefoux.
And deal she does...
If Alexia had any downfall (except her soulless state), I would say its her personality. In the best way possible. She is blunt, able to look at situations clearly, handle the oddest of situations, and accept anyone even if they have more than a few faults. Those who surround her hold up a mirror for the reader so that we see her qualities through them and their interactions. (Who knew an Italian could have such a big heart under all that? Oh, yeah, I did! P.S. Total tongue in cheek here I hope you know. I just find it so amusing. Being Italian.)
The Steampunk element is alive and well, too, but I will say the dirigible trip (and, in case you were wondering, I don't think I'd be a good floater. I hate heights.) seemed more about helium and the blandly steamed food (yuck!)...and a common form of transportation. Madame Lefoux and her inventions layer in the amount of technicality that is needed without being too much. (I loved how Alexia processes this character...after the fact. Really, I wanted to bop her with her parasol. We all have this friend who never quite gets this particular...situation. Sigh.)
Did I enjoy? Yep. Such a nice change of pace from most the books and authors I enjoy. If I had any complaints, it would have to be the brevity of which the romance element is played out...but, hey a married couple who still have the urge to be romantic? I'll take it!
Sadly (slight spoiler), the ending made me want a parasol of my own. To soundly beat a certain werewolf over the head. Men.
And now, once again I must wait. For who knows how long for Blameless...