Gail Carriger
Blameless Cover



Gail Carriger's The Parasol Protectorate novels are like delicious, ridiculously decorated little petit fours of books. I read Blameless in under twenty-four hours, mostly in two sittings. I went through two cups of lavender Earl Grey tea, one glass of wine, two espressos, and one cup of vanilla black tea while reading it. The espresso is not very Parasol Protectorate-ish, but Alexia was in Italy for that portion of the book.

I was a little afraid going into this book, because the end of the last book was very heavy, and also Conall was absolutely terrible, so I was afraid that in order to provide conflict throughout this book, he would continue to be a jerkface and then I wouldn't be able to be happy about him and Alexia getting back together (which was basically the inevitable ending). Luckily, things weren't as bad as I feared on that front, since (a) the book only takes place over a few weeks, and (b) apparently Conall deals with his feelings by getting sloshed off formaldehyde and then the mess he created continues because he can't sober up for weeks, not because he is continuing to actually have dumber-than-a-brick opinions about the whole mess.

The mess is that Alexia is pregnant, which is supposed to be impossible, as Conall is technically dead. Conall initially thinks this means she cheated on him, hence the formaldehyde. The vampires seem to believe it's Conall's baby, because they are now trying to kill Alexia. In order to get away from her dreadful family, the public scandal of her getting kicked out of her husband's house, and the angry vampires, Alexia—accompanied by her cross-dressing mad scientist friend Madame Lefoux and her loyal butler Floote—decides to take a trip to Italy.

Italy is not as progressive as England, in that they have not integrated their "supernatural set," and the Order of the Knights Templar is still quite active there. The Knights Templar are supernatural-hunters, and they don't think much of preternaturals either—referring to them as "devil spawn" for their soullessness—but they are willing to use preternaturals as anti-supernatural weapons. Alexia's father has had some mysterious connection with them, and they are very, very interested in Alexia. From then on there is the usual mishmash of naked werewolves, steampunky flying things, improbably clockwork mechanisms, and Alexia having strong feelings about food that characterizes this series. (Apparently, in this universe, pesto was developed as a minor anti-supernatural weapon, as vampires are allergic to garlic and werewolves are allergic to basic.)

We learn a lot of weird fake science about souls and the aether and a mysterious legend of a being called a soul-stealer, offspring of a preternatural and a vampire, which may or may not end up being roughly what Alexia's baby will turn out to be.

There is also an ABSOLUTELY DEVASTATING (if you are me) subplot in which the potentate, Queen Victoria's vampire advisor, kidnaps Lord Akeldama's favorite drone Biffy, causing Lord Akeldama to go into hiding. Conall and Professor Lyall, his Beta, go to find and rescue Biffy (in their capacity as BUR sundowners, not as Woolsey pack members), and in the ensuing mayhem, Biffy has to get changed into a werewolf instead of a vampire. This causes things to be very weird and tense but also it's very cute and very, very gay. Biffy has been one of my favorite minor characters and I hope to see more of his adaptation to werewolf life in the next two books in the series.

I have put a hold on Heartless at the library and I do hope it gets here soon! After I finish this series I am very keen on checking out the assassin finishing school one.

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