Title: Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate, #1)
Author: Gail Carriger
Publication Date: September, 2009
Paperback: 357 pages
Genre: Cozy Paranormal Mystery
Description: ALEXIA TARABOTTI IS LABORING UNDER A GREAT MANY SOCIAL TRIBULATIONS.
First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.
Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire --- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.
With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia is responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?
My Thoughts: This book seems to cover several genres at once. Historical romance as it is set during the reign of Queen Victoria when women’s fashion included a bustle and corset and leaving the house with the incorrect hat was an unforgivable social faux pas. And in Alexia Tarabotti’s case, carrying a parasol is a must as well. The romance depicts two characters, a spinster and an earl performing the mating ritual required by Victorian society. This book could also be viewed as a paranormal romance as the characters involved in the romance have a paranormal background. Our hero, Lord Maccon, is the leader of one of the local werewolf packs. Our heroine, Alexia Tarabotti, is a preternatural. She has the ability to reverse the abilities of a supernatural being simply by touching them. Werewolves revert back to human form and vampires become human and are able to go out in sunlight. The only catch is this only works as long as she maintains physical contact. Once the contact is broken, the supernatural being goes back to his former state. Finally, this book could be considered a cozy mystery as there is mystery and foul play afoot. Newly made vampires are appearing without any apparent connection to the vampire hive in London and other vampires, high ranking members of London society are disappearing and someone is also after Alexia as well.
Regardless of which genre you decide to label this book, you will find this story to be highly entertaining. The chemistry between Lord Maccon and Alexia is intense. Besides the sexual tension lying just below the surface, there is a history between them of earlier confrontations and conflict. They definitely get on each other’s nerves. As a spinster, Alexia is not the typical simpering female solely motivated to finding a husband, sipping tea and being brainless. Alexia’s mother and two sisters fill that role perfectly. Instead, Alexia questions everything around her and I found her inquisitive and independent nature refreshing.
Lord Maccon is the type of hero I always enjoy reading. He is very protective of what is his and he is very much the alpha male. Ironically, only an alpha female is suitable as his mate and when it is decided that Alexia will be his mate, he automatically assumes she will take on the nature of an alpha female werewolf. Not being a werewolf, she has no idea what he expects and the results were quite entertaining. A Scottish werewolf…what’s not to love? If you need further encouragement, there is an extended scene when Alexia has to revert him back to human form while he is a werewolf. It was a little scary but in the end having to keep her arms wrapped around a very naked Lord Maccon was quite enjoyable, at least for the reader and I didn’t hear Alexia or Lord Maccon complaining about it either.
The author brings a story laden with humor filled with characters that I enjoyed meeting and found refreshing. I loved the story, the characters, including the brief appearance of Queen Victoria and some of the supporting characters like Lord Akeldama, Ivy and Professor Lyall. The only thing missing to make this experience perfect is having my copy of the next story, Changeless on hand.