I just zoomed through the latest two Parasol Protectorate novels, Blameless and Heartless. They were fantastic! I love the character of Alexia Tarabotti. A lot of the lead women in urban fantasy novels are hard as nails, fist-fighting, heavy drinking, one-of-the-boys types. I like that and understand that. But Alexia is a no-nonsense feminine leading lady. She’s a proper Victorian lady…for the most part. It isn’t her fault that her best friend is a vampire. Warning: here follows spoilers.
At any rate, in Blameless Alexia gets kicked out of her family home once it becomes clear that she’s with child. Normally it isn’t a big deal for a married woman to be pregnant but with her it is. Her husband is a werewolf which means that he is, like a vampire, technically dead. So technically, no little swimmers. Her husband, her parents and even the honorable Queen Victoria thinks she’s cheated on Lord Maccon.
This bugged the shit out of me (pardon the language). Alexia is, as covered in the previous books, a preternatural. In this series, it means that when she touches a vampire or a werewolf skin to skin, she restores them to their original mortal state. Original mortal state. Meaning they should be more than capable of having little kiddies. I guess I can forgive the situation a bit by the fact that the author explains that female preternaturals are a rarity. I guess I can suspend disbelief to them being so rare that there hasn’t been one in the whole of written history. If I must.
At any rate, Alexia and her footman Floote and her new friend Madame Lefoux leave England in a hurry after the news broke all over polite society. Oh yeah, and the London hive vampires are after her. Seems that they feel the infant-inconvenience, as Alexia calls it, is an abomination. They’re chased all the way across France and into Italy, where because of the Vatican and the Knights Templar (yes, apparently they were never slaughtered and disbanded in this timeline) kill all vampires, werewolves and their respective human hangers on on sight. But they aren’t fond of Alexia either.
Seems that preternaturals, being soulless, are beyond salvation of the church and are therefore demons. That also kind of bugs me, but I’m not a religious person by nature so it could just be a personal thing. 🙂 Meanwhile, the drunken Lord Maccon is finally talked around by the lovely Professor Lyall, his beta, after the Maccon stops drinking formaldehyde and sobers up. Once he realizes what a complete and utter prat he’s been, he issues a public apology and races after her…just in time to “rescue” from the clutches of the evil (not really an exaggeration) Templars. And by rescue I mean pick up the pieces of Alexia rescuing herself, Floote and Lefoux. As usual.
In Heartless, whose title I still don’t quite understand, Alexia is VERY pregnant and has to foil a plot to kill the queen. As a newly reinstated member of Queen Victoria’s Shadow Council, she is contact by a ghost messenger with a vague plot about the queen being in danger. So she puts the dewan (leading lone werewolf) and the potentate (the always loveable Lord Akeldama) on alert, not the mention her husband and the BUR.
Meanwhile, she has to deal with the infant-inconvenience and the newly made werewolf/former vampire drone Biffy. Biffy was made a werewolf at the end of the last book because it was either that or he would be very much dead and gone. Biffy was Lord Akeldama’s favored drone and the pair were (shockingly in the Victorian era) quite in love. Biffy is not taking his change from potential vampire to werewolf well at all. He can’t control his changes as well as the others and it causes all sorts of grief for the pack, Biffy and Alexia, as she has to turn him human again to calm him down. Not an easy thing to do when eight months along.
Not to mention poor Madame Lefoux is acting very strange and withdrawn from Alexia. Lefoux’s dead aunt, Beatrix “formerly” Lefoux, is losing her hold on the world and becoming a very vague ghost. This is an upsetting time for Madame Lefoux but there’s something else going on…
I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Normally I can see an ending coming after a little while but I was honestly surprised to find out that the plot against the queen wasn’t referring to Queen Victoria but the the vampire queen, Countess Nadasdy. This leads to a very interesting shake up of the social dynamic in London between the vampires and the werewolves. Not to mention Alexia ends up giving birth inside a giant, steam driven octomaton built by Madame Lefoux.
I highly recommend both books. A