This book and those that come after it in the Parasol Protectorate series has been on my radar for some time. I love a blending of steampunk and paranormal so it caught my eye the minute I saw it a few years back. Finally, I had the opportunity to start it and it was quite the surprise with the addition of the humor, creative paranormal background, and the sparkling chemistry amongst the cast of characters.
The book opens with eccentric spinster, Alexia Tarabotti slipping into her ball hosts’ library where she had sent for tea all because the promised spread of food was scarce. Miss Tarabotti had no other reason to enjoy the party since she was the odd, odder looking older child from a previous shameful marriage for her mother who preferred to hang her hopes on Miss Tarabotti’s younger, pretty silly half-sisters.
But the library is not unoccupied. A very young and ignorant rogue vampire decides she’s his next meal and the kerfuffle leads to a dead vampire, a decimated tea cart, and an impatient werewolf investigation team lead by the aggravating Lord Maccon questioning her.
Miss Tarabotti and Lord Maccon rile each other up with each new encounter and find the attraction between them inconvenient- until it is suddenly not. Only disappearing vampires and werewolves, reappearance of more newly made rogues, the creepy appearance of a mysterious man that’s not quite human, kidnapping attempts, and Miss Tarabotti’s informative friend Lord Akeldama even in the dark lead to dangerous and exciting times for them all.
From page one, I was enchanted by this fun story. Alexia Tarabotti is a blend of sensible and scientific with quirky, strong-willed and heedlessness when she’s nosing out the answers. Conall Maccon is a good foil for her with his brash, equally stubborn and sensible nature alongside his willingness to see the true diamond in a lady that almost all of London society rejects or ignores because she is different. They are surrounded by a colorful set from the avant-garde Lord Akeldama with his flamboyant mannerisms and appearance, but cunning aged knowledge and Maccon’s beta the canny and astute Professor Lyall, Alexia’s family, and her best friend who is a poor judge of fashion.
The story does well as an opening to a series with its good pacing of background and set up without bogging down the current plot. Things move along with steady development of romance for Alexia and Conall and spikes of excitement from the action side of the plot. I loved to see them working the case from different angles and that exciting climax scene.
The build of romance is full of sparks and eventually heat as the intrepid Alexia gets curious about her attraction and Maccon can’t seemed to resist the sharp-tongued independent female that also exasperates him beyond measure.
The end of the story left things in a good place for the rest of the series with the current situation solved, but a chance for this pair and their friends to get involved in further adventures.
The steampunk and paranormal elements were balanced well. Gadgets and inventions had their showing alongside a very different way of explaining the presence of paranormals.
All in all, this was a fun story and the beginning of what I suspect will be an addicting series. If you enjoy quirky characters and worldbuilding with a blend of steampunk, paranormal, and romance, then give this one a go.
Romance Roundabout #265 SP
Mt. TBR #97
New to Me #111 author/series