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Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate)

Soulless - Gail Carriger, Gail Carriger In Soulless, Carriger creates an alternate Victorian England (of the steampunk genre,) one in which vampires, werewolves, and ghosts are open and active members of society and politics. Ms. Alexia Tarabotti, a half Italian spinster, is a preternatural and has the rare ability to return supernaturals to their human state with a mere touch.Alexia and Lord Conall Maccon (a werewolf pack leader alpha) become embroiled in some crazy drama when werewolves and vampires start going missing, newly created vampires start appearing out nowhere (one of whom Alexia does away with in the first chapter using a wooden hair pin,) a scary wax man monster starts pursuing Alexia and, oh yes, Alelxia and Lord Maccon finally start making out. :-)This was a delightful read on many counts. Number one, the writing is witty, deliciously dry dry dry and laugh out loud hilarious at times. Carriger has little problem poking fun at her characters and making them the butt of her snarky humor, which is rather fresh and fun. I guess I didn't know I was getting tired of romance authors idealizing their characters all the time.Number two, Alexia is awesome and one of the most interesting and unique heroines I've seen in awhile. She's bossy, sharp-tongued, direct and quite the ball buster. She's incisively intelligent and takes no nonsense from anyone. She is, perhaps, secretly lonely and insecure about her swarthy looks (Italian features apparently, inherited from her dad,) but but doesn't sit around feeling sorry for herself or making drama over it. Lord Maccon is the dreamiest- strong, intelligent, gruff and protective (but not annoyingly so.) They make an amazing pair. The supporting characters are a lot of quirky fun too, from Lyall to Floote to Ms. Hisselpenny who each enriched the story in their own way and made each scene interesting.Number three, the social construct of the vampire hive (with the queen bee vampire) and the werewolf pack, along with their loyal human servant clavigers/drones was rather interesting. The relation of the amount of soul to the supernatural was unique, and Carriger puts a lot of thought into creating her steam-punk world.My only complaint is that I wish there was a little more steam and a lot less punk in Soulless. The novel takes place over 3-4 days, and I wanted more time for Alexia and Lord Maccon to interact, bicker, make out and fall in love. There were many long scenes with Alexia and secondary characters, which was a lot of fun, but I wanted more Alexia and Lord Maccon social situations and tension. In many ways, this book seemed like an alternate history paranormal novel with romance in it, rather than a romance novel which takes place within a paranormal alternate history. That would be the only reason why I wouldn't want to read book 2 in the series. I like reading books in which the development of the relationship is central to the plot.Otherwise, the book was fresh, hilarious and recommended. A great read!