Date finished: 16 July 2011
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Urban fantasy; Steam punk fiction
Published: by Orbit in June 2011
As usual, I don't want to post the synopsis for this book because I don't want to ruin the earlier books in the series for anyone...should you want to hunt down a handy summary, you can find one at GoodReads here
This is the fourth of five books in the Parasol Protectorate series featuring Alexia (spinster-come-lady), Lord Maccon (deliciously rugged and handsome werewolf), Lord Akeldama (somewhat effeminate rove vampire) and Queen Victoria.
Set in an alternative Victorian England, these books positively ooze charm and wit and are so much fun to read. The characters are wonderful and the tone just perfect. Kooky inventions, daring transportation, perfectly coiffed hair and battered bustles - what more could you want?! Vampires, werewolves, ghosts and a preternatural...? Why of course!
The only real question is which werewolf you're going to fall in love with. I'm a Lord Maccon girl myself - his and Alexia's relationship is one of the best things about this series. Their sarcastic and barbed exchanges garnered many a chuckle from me and were balanced superbly with a heart-warming sense of genuine, old-fashioned romance. Lord Maccon, however, is an animalistic, barely-tamed Scottish Alpha werewolf. My mother, however, prefers his Beta - Professor Lyall. His more refined, under-stated elegance and subtle command is clearly more her style. (And no, I do not want this psycho-analysing...)
Heartless is a great addition to the series and I actually enjoyed it more than Blameless (the third of the series). There's a good 'mystery' for Alexia to interfere with and some excellent twists to keep you intrigued. It's also a great one for developing the histories of some of the main characters and spinning the relationships and personalities around a little to keep things fresh. Ivy, for one, gets an overdue bit of attention and flourishes for it.
All of this said, if you've read the beginning of the series, I doubt you'll need much convincing to carry on! You really don't need to worry - this is as good, if not better, than its predecessors.
Oh, and the 'Parasol Protectorate' is finally born! Hurrah!
Overall: If you haven't yet read Soulless, what on earth are you doing? Shoo! Go on, find yourself a copy, suspend reality and romp around Victorian England lamenting your bustle and rousing ghosts - you'll be glad you did!