I’m beginning to wonder if Gail Carriger is capable of not hitting one out of the park. Soulless, the first book in the Parasol Protectorate series (reviewed by me here), was incredibly unique. Book 2, Changeless (reviewed by Stacy B here), improved on the unique setting of the first book, introducing more of the supernatural world and the fascinating steampunk technology.
Blameless picks up right where Changeless left off (which means if you haven’t read Changeless yet, beware spoilers in this review!), with a pregnant and shamed Alexia who has moved out of her husband’s house and back in with her lovely family. When she discovers that Britain’s vampires (with the exception of Lord Akeldama, who has gone missing) want her dead, she goes on the run with Madame Lefoux and faithful Floote, her late father’s valet.
I think I was most impressed by Alexia’s continued judicious use of spine. She’s found herself in quite a shameful position–pregnant and cast out by her husband, and in Victorian England’s snooty and prudish society, that’s probably the worst thing that could possibly happen to a woman. Alexia is more irritated by this than anything else, and despite the physical woes of early pregnancy, she still keeps her head high and kicks some ass when necessary. I absolutely love this character.
Carriger’s prose is, as usual, laugh-out-loud funny and elegant in its mimicry of Victorian fiction. Most of the story is a cross-continent chase during which Alexia tries to figure out both how she was able to get pregnant and what her child might be when it is born. The scenes in which Professor Lyall attempts to find out why the vampires are after Alexia are very welcome. I liked Lyall in the other books, but he gets his chance to shine in Blameless, and he proves himself to be an excellent beta to Lord Conall Maccon’s pack as well as a good leader in his own right.
My only complaint about Blameless (and admittedly, it is kind of a major one) needs to go under a spoiler cut, since it deals with something that happens at the end of the novel. Beware Blameless spoilers below!View Spoiler »I don’t think that Conall groveled enough to get Alexia back. I was just as relieved as she when she found out that he had publicly apologized for being a right bastard, but his actual groveling in Italy? Not enough. I really wanted an emotional scene where Alexia vents all of her justified anger and Conall has to really, truly feel bad about how he reacted. Instead, I got a short, jokey scene where Alexia demands he buy her expensive things to win back her heart.
On one hand, I can understand Conall’s initial reaction. In his long life, no supernatural has been able to produce offspring, so it makes sense that he’d initially think that she had been untrue. On the other hand, he’s a reasonably smart guy, so I would have expected him to come to the realization that DUH, when Alexia touches him, he becomes mortal and could maybe produce some viable little swimmers. If he had realized it too quickly, though, it would have changed the whole rhythm of the story. I think, though, I almost would have preferred it if he had been trying to track her down throughout the story rather than popping up at the end in an almost deus ex machina sort of way.
I’m really hoping that Carriger deals more with my problem in the next book, because I think the forgiveness-and-back-to-a-happy-couple thing happened way too easily. I want Alexia and Conall to be happily back together, but I’d like a little more realistic conflict along the way. « Hide Spoiler
Other than that complaint, though, I enjoyed the heck out of Blameless and count myself as a devoted reader of the Parasol Protectorate.