Alexia Tarabotti, is a half-italian, allegedly unnatractive, past-her prime (at 26) young woman. Living in Victorian britain. Who has nothing left for her in life, but to escort her younger and more eligible sisters to parties that she has no interest in (apart from the food, or lack thereof). She also happens to have no soul.
Then Alexia gets accosted by a hungry vampire in the library, and inadverntently kills him while fending him off. Vampires aren't actually suprising in this version of victorian society, nor in fact are werewolves. But what is mysterious is that the vampire was not sired by any other vampire, and was untrained and mostly unaware of his origins. This is the mystery. And that seems a good point to introduce Lord Connal Maccon, Alpha of the local wereworlf pack, and head of BUR (which stands for something pompous to do with paranormal investigation or beurocracy or spies or something). Maccon is apparently big, gruff, scottish, etc, everything that is expected of an Alpha werewolf. And Alexia and he don't get on at all, which is to say, they're blatantly denying the mutual repressed attraction for one another. Adventure follows.
Suprisingly, I gave this book 3 stars. I actually liked it. But I feel like I shouldn't have. I think this is similar to the reaction that some people have when you mention 'twilight' to them, they don't want to admit that they might actually have enjoyed it, or be tempted to read it if they hadn't, and their reaction is always over-emphatically "No, that stuff is awful". Well I rated twilight 5 stars, and I actually stand by that unashamedly, but this novel is different, this must be My version of the twilight dilemma. What I mean is, I feel slightly ashamed of my 3 stars. While I was reading it, my notes (yes I write notes now while reading) were largely about what was annoying, or just plain wrong about the book. And yet I ended up enjoying the thing anyway. I feel like a little bit of a literary failure.
So what was wrong with it? Well where to start.. Alexia is a spinster apparently, we get told this repeatedly, despite the fact that she's only 26 and as such is far from being past child-bearing age. Either this is part of the 'relate to the heroine because she's apparently unnatractive and unworthy but she proves them wrong' trope. Or the author just really loves the word 'spinster', like she loves all other unnecessary words being thrown about, without regard to conventional use or grammatical correctness, because it feels all victorian or something.
Many people have claimed that the book is very 'Austen', No no no no, it's not Austen at all. Thats the kind of thing you might say if you thought you knew or liked Austen, just because you've seen the crappy new Pride and Prejudice movie, or heaven forbid.. bridget jones diary. No it's not Austen. Not any more than Terry Pratchett is JR Tolkien. Not to say that either is worth less than the other, but really, to compare them like that is probably to an insult to at least one of them. This is not Austen style writing, and it's not Austen style wit. It does have it's own brand of humor, and it goes for a faux-period comedic style of writing, that I actually enjoyed, but it's certainly in it's own class, not miss Austen's.
The one thing that was most jarring about the writing, and stopped it from being otherwise a fairly smooth read (despite ignorable grammatical errors), was the quantity of modern American terms used. I'm afraid to say that Alexia had 'jelly' on her breakfast instead of jam, and 'creamer' in her tea instead of just cream. Greatly spoiling the illusion of what was otherwise a fairly enjoyable alternate steam-punk victorian setting.
And so, it may have annoyed and irritated me like mad, it may have been stereotypical on the wallflower heroine/Alpha male hero romance front, Alexia's soulless state had a distinct lack of effect or involvement apart from one supernatural ability which could have been explained by any other non-explained-title, it may have misused and abused the english language.. But I admit. I enjoyed the damn thing. Because if I get over it, it's just fun, and it's got cool steampunk type things, and it's kinda quirky and it grows on you even if you really hate it, similar to a grumpy scottish werewolf I suppose.See my other reviews of the Parasol Protectorate series:#2 Changeless