Soulless by Gail Carriger

Soulless coverAlexia 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 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?

At first, all I knew about this book was that it was a Steampunk mystery and I was excited to begin it. I quickly found that it includes vampires, werewolves, and ghosts, which made me less excited to begin it. I’ve found that novels containing the supernatural can be very good, but most of them are simply awful. Nevertheless, as this was scheduled for book group, I began reading.

I was very pleasantly surprised. There’s no other way for me to explain Soulless than to say it is a Steampunk-Sherlock Holmes-Twilight-Jane Austen romance novel. It’s got a little bit of everything. I thoroughly enjoyed the humor in it as well. I think my favorite line is after Alexia’s family discusses how horrible it is that scientists are moving in next door to an acquaintance of theirs and Alexia replies, “How ghastly for her, people actually thinking, with their brains, and right next door. Oh, the travesty of it all.”

I recommend this to fans of paranormal romance and paranormal mystery who like a little something extra in their reading material. I also recommend it to fans of Jane Austen who have an interest in the supernatural.

Five stars!

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The Mischief of the Mistletoe (Lauren Willig)

CoverAll right, I have a new favorite Regency author. Lauren Willig may not be Jane Austen (who is?), but she’s an excellent writer in her own right. The Mischief of the Mistletoe comes in the middle of her Pink Carnation series. Even so, it works very well on its own. I haven’t read any more of the series (it’s on my list now!), but I didn’t feel in the least bit lost or confused. If you like your Regency titles a little on the comical side, you’ll love The Mischief of the Mistletoe. Chapter 11 alone is worth the price of the book.

The Mischief of the Mistletoe is set in the early 1800’s, during the Napoleonic wars. Our heroine, Arabella Dempsey, is a poor relation who is more or less on her own now, thanks to her aunt’s marriage. In spite of the cautions of her childhood friend, Jane Austen, she takes a position as an instructress at a girls’ school in Bath. There she (literally) bumps into Reggie Fitzhugh, also known as Turnip. As you might guess, he’s an easygoing, friendly sort, if a little brainless. He’s also quite wealthy. The attraction between the two is obvious to all except them. After a Christmas season dealing with snippy Society ladies and their cruel husbands and male friends, cold castles, missing manuscripts, French spies, and Christmas puddings, we finally reach the expected end. That was when I knew I had to read more about these wonderful, engaging characters. I think you’ll want to, also.

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