Tuesday, October 25, 2011
When readers left the soulless Alexia Tarabotti at the end of the last book she was about to be married to man...uhhh...werewolf of her dreams and had accepted an appointment as a supernatural liaison from none other than Queen Victoria herself.
Changeless finds the former Miss Tarabotti now known as Lady Maccon and married to Lord Conall Maccon, the dashing Scottish werewolf, she's also being ravished on a regular basis and despite her protestations to the contrary, one gets the impression she rather enjoys her husband's attention.
The life of wedded bliss is interrupted by all manner of things. Something is disrupting supernatural activity; werewolves are unable to change, vampires have lost their bite and large numbers of ghosts have been exorcised. Her Majesty is not amused and exactly what is Alexia going to do about it. Connal's pack has returned from active duty overseas and set up camp on Alexia's front lawn, it's terribly inconvenient and the odious Major Channing Channing of the Chesterfield Channings telling her that they've always done it, does not make situation any more bearable. Most importantly Alexia's best friend Miss Ivy Hisselpenny, she of the horrid hats, has become engaged!
Without warning Connal takes off on urgent pack business to the wilds of Scotland and Alexia has no option, but to jump on a dirigible with her annoying younger half sister Miss Felicity Loontwill and Ivy in tow, being mooned after by Connal's claviger (a potential werewolf, the vampire version is called a drone) Tunstell, she's also shadowed by a possible French spy, Madame Lefoux, who runs a hat shop, invents things and affects masculine dress, and go to Scotland.
Alexia will discover more about her husband, her mysterious father, Madame Lefoux and her servant Angelique and get to the bottom of the supernatural disruption. Will she do so in time to avert disaster, though?
The style of the Parasol Protectorate books is absolutely delightful, and Alexia is one of the more entertaining heroines I have ever encountered. Her insistence on remaining polite in the face of the most extraordinary situations is endearing and incredibly British.
The steampunk influence is far more in evidence in Changeless than it was in Soulless, and some of the more complex descriptions of the technology could have been excised without affecting the story. It was rather unfortunate that those passages tended to involve the urbane, flamboyant vampire Lord Akeldama, because his italic laden appearances were one of the highlights of Soulless and they were affected in this one, although it is fun seeing just how many completely inappropriate names he can come up with for Alexia.
One thing that I really loved about Changeless was that we got to see a lot more of Miss Hisselpenny. I like Ivy, she comes across as totally clueless, her comment about the range of bang on hunting rifles was priceless, as was her lack of assistance to Alexia when she was literally hanging by a thread on the side of the dirigible. The talk of her hats and how horrible they are becomes a little tiresome, but her habit of fainting whenever there's a loud noise or the mention of blood is very funny.
It may have been authentic, but I also found the regular references between Alexia and Connal to each other as 'husband' and 'wife' a little jarring. They did this even in private, yet it was apparent that they are both deeply in love, so I thought they would have used each other's first names or some sort of endearment more often.
That minor criticism aside Changeless was a hoot and the cliffhanger ending makes me very eager to read the third book in the series; Blameless.