Book Review: Blameless: An Alexia Tarabotti Novel by Gail Carriger

I’ve decided to begin a series called  

I prefer to read my guilty pleasure mass markets when I travel. Having no car, traveling anywhere outside the city of Boston usually requires at least two T-lines, a bus, a train, possibly a taxi, and a different type of subway depending on what city I’m going to. In other words, hours and hours of travel, and the inevitable waiting in stations. Reading as quickly as I do, mass markets are the perfect book size (I believe that was the intent behind their creation in the first place) and topic – I can bring several of them along, put them down when I need to, and quickly become engrossed again to the point where I can ignore the smelly person sitting next to me or the baby crying three seats behind.

Blogging about them is a different matter. I’m not ashamed of what I read, but reading so many of them at one time (usually three or more to a trip), means after coming back from a weekend away, I would overrun the blog with them. I don’t think that’s fair, as I read loads of other things too. So, to blog about my urban fantasy romance mass market travel books, I’ve created MASS MARKET MONDAYS. Enjoy!

Blameless: An Alexia Tarabotti Novel
by Gail Carriger
9780316074155, $7.99, Orbit (Hachette)

Blameless is third in the Parasol Protectorate series by first-time author Gail Carriger.

You can read my review of Soulless, the first book in the series, here.
Watch a Soulless book trailer here.
To recap: in Soulless (9780316056632), the reader is introduced to Alexia Tarabotti, who is a preternatural – someone who has no soul. When she touches a supernatural being – a being with excess soul – they lose their supernatural ability while her hands are on them. She can retract the fangs from a vampire, make a werewolf human, and permanently dispel a ghost. Living in London during the reign of Queen Victoria, the dark complected, half-Italian, intelligent and educated, secret preternatural often feels stifled and maybe even a little bored with her idiotic mother, absent step-father, and two silly younger sisters. After accidentally killing a freshly-made rogue vampire who was trying to drink from her (with her incredibly handy, personalized parasol), Alexia gets mixed up with Lord Maccon, the large, shaggy, uncouth, unwed Alpha of the local London werewolf pack. Soon they are off on a supernatural London-wide adventure involving disappearing werewolves, rogue vampires, new scientific supernatural inventions, a scientific organization known as the Hypocras Club, and just maybe, a romance neither of them expected.

In book 2, Changeless (9780316074148), Alexia, now Lady Woolsey, is suddenly left alone to deal with werewolf pack politics while her husband runs off on a secret mission. Her investigations introduce new characters such as Madame Lefoux, the men’s suit-wearing French woman who owns a delectable hat shop and a fully-equipped scientific laboratory, and ends with a trip to Scotland. Unfortunately, there’s a traitor on board her dirigible and Alexia has quite a few narrow escapes on her trip as someone tries to kill her. She does manage to solve the mystery, and finds her wayward husband, though a surprise twist at the cliffhanger ending is very abrupt.
I didn’t review book 2 because I didn’t like it as much as book 1 and I don’t like to write negative reviews. Yet, if you would like to read a proper review, this reviewer on Amazon has basically said everything I wanted to say, and in a very well-spoken, respectful way, so check it out.

Now, considering my disappointment with Changeless, I picked up Blameless with some trepidation. I am happy to report, I was about 70-80% satisfied with book 3. Alexia has returned from Scotland the scandal of the London season. Dismissed from her secret position on the Shadow Council of advisers to the queen, kicked out of both her husband’s house and her parents’ home, Alexia turns to her famous rogue vampire friend, Lord Akeldama, for answers. Unfortunately he’s disappeared, leaving Alexia with a short, somewhat cryptic message: “Leave England. And beware Italians who embroider.” Leaving London again with Madame Lefoux and her father’s trusty butler Floote, Alexia is chased through Paris and into Italy by vampires who want to kill her. Seeking refuge with the Knights Templar turns out to be a bad idea as they alternately ignore her, use her as bait, and then kidnap her, holding her prisoner. Meanwhile, back in London, Lord Maccon is getting increasingly inebriated, leaving his second, Professor Lyall, to hold the pack together and deal with the sudden disappearance of Alexia, Lord Akeldama, and all of Lord Akeldama’s drones. Luckily this is not the first time Alexia’s had to keep her wits about her, and with the help of Madame Lefoux and her scientist friend, Floote, a mysterious white werewolf who keeps showing up at just the right moment, and a beefed-up parasol, Alexia’s not going to stay kidnapped for long. Blameless has the strong characterization, familiar laugh-out-loud wit, and steampunk elements mixed in with history that had gone missing in book 2.
Watch the creation of the Blameless book jacket design in sped-up time here.

Book 4 is apparently called Heartless and I can only imagine what on earth that’s going to be about. No pub date as of yet, but I’ll keep my eyes open.

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