The Empty Hourglass (Deal with a Devil #3) by Cornelia Grey

DealWithTheDevilThomas Escott has always wanted to be a toymaker, yet just as he achieves his dream, an accident claims his right hand. He’s certain his life is over—until he hears about groundbreaking prosthetics being made by a reclusive inventor.
Jethro Hastings is perfectly content to live alone up in the mountains working on a secret masterpiece: a humanoid automaton that will change the scientific community forever. He’s behind schedule, and the date of the unveiling is fast approaching, so when Thomas shows up on his doorstep offering help in exchange for a mechanical hand, Jethro agrees. Time, after all, is running out on another deal he’s made: one with the devil.
The devil gives Jethro’s inventions life, but he can just as quickly take life away—Jethro’s, to be exact. As the sand in the devil’s hourglass falls, marking the time until the end of the deal, inventions go haywire, people get hurt, and Thomas realizes he needs Jethro just as much as his prosthetic. Now he must find a way to save Jethro’s soul, but negotiating with a devil is just as difficult as it sounds.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1It’s been a while since I’ve read a Steampunk book and even though it takes me a little longer to get into them than normal (at least for me) I forgot how much I liked this genre.

There’s a couple of things that should probably be pointed out about The Empty Hourglass. First, even though I numbered it as the third book in the Deal with a Devil series, you can read any of the books in any order. This just happens to be the third book written in the series. I’ve enjoyed all the books so far, but I have to admit that I enjoyed Devil at the Crossroads and Circus of the Damned a little bit more. The other thing I need to mention is that even though this is listed as a romance, everything was behind closed doors. That’s honestly not a complaint… just an observation.

The Empty Hourglass was also different from the other books in this series because the story was told from Thomas’ POV and he wasn’t the one who owed his soul to the Devil. For me, that was kind of a neat twist, but I still would have like to have been in Jethro’s head just a little, because honestly, throughout most of this book he was a really hard character to like.

So, basically I really liked the Steampunk aspect of this story and I had a semi love/hate relationship with the characters. Not sure that Jethro really deserved Thomas, but I love how it worked out for them in the end.


The Circus of the Damned (Deal with a Devil #1) by Cornelia Grey

CircusOfTheDamnedMagician Gilbert Blake has spent his entire life conning drunkards in the seediest pubs in the darkest towns, careful to hide the true depths of his power. But when he spends a little too much time in Shadowsea and the infamous slumlord Count Reuben gets wind of his abilities, hiding within the Circus of the Damned may be Gilbert’s only chance at survival.

But there’s more to the Circus than meets the eye. Every time a performer dies, a new one must take his place, or the entire circus suffers the consequences. And while the handsome ringmaster Jesse isn’t one to coerce unwilling performers into giving up their souls to the devil, a recent death in their ranks makes Gilbert exactly what they need.

Yet the longer Gilbert stays with the Circus, the more danger he seems to bring them. Being with Jesse is more than Gilbert could have hoped for, but as Count Reuben’s men continue to search for Gilbert and the Circus loses another performer, they all face running out of time long before the Devil claims his due.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1It’s been a year since I read the first book in Cornelia Grey’s Deal with a Devil series, Devil at the Crossroads. I liked it, but it wasn’t quite long enough to get to know the characters. Circus of the Damned more than made up for that introduction. I might even go back and read the first book. Yeah, you could say I’m hooked.

I’m not sure what I liked most about this book. I loved Gilbert. He was talented and broken in so many ways. Besides that, how could you not love a character whose best friend was a mouse that he doted over? Jesse was mysterious and amazing as well. The more layers that were revealed about these two men, the more I wanted them to be together.

This was a book full of misunderstood, lovable, beautiful characters with an interesting Devil thrown into the mix. The world saw them as freaks, but together they were family and depended on not only the Circus but each other. Gilbert fought that connection as long as he could but once he gave in he embraced it. This book made me feel, and I’ve said more than once, those are my favorite.

Circus of the Damned was full of magic, danger, mystery, suspense and a surprisingly sweet romance that I didn’t really expect but totally enjoyed. I’m kind of hoping that there’s more to come with this series.


Precious Metals (Metals #2) by L.A. Witt

PreciousMetalsFor Constable Paul Benson of the North-West Mounted Police, monotony is a blessing. As a provision inspector below the Chilkoot Pass during the Klondike Gold Rush, he’s seen miserable conditions and gold fever turn civilized prospectors into madmen.

Joseph Starling is on his way to the Klondike to find the men who savagely beat him, murdered his eldest brother, and stole their mining machine. They’ll kill his youngest brother if Joseph doesn’t operate the machine for them—it won’t work without him. With time running out, Joseph must purchase an expensive ticket aboard a crash-prone airship. But the station is miles away through dangerous terrain.

Under orders, Paul grudgingly escorts Joseph, but quickly finds himself intrigued by the young man. As they make their way toward Juneau, it’s not just the need for warmth that drives them closer together. But neither man can draw an easy breath until they make it to the gold fields . . . and there’s no guarantee that Joseph’s brother will still be alive when they do.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I liked the first book in L.A. Witt’s Metals series. Noble Metals did a great job of introducing the  harshness, greed and danger that prospectors were exposed to. Precious Metals drew the same vivid picture, but there was less world building. You can read this book without reading Noble Metals but I think reading it gives the story just a little more depth.

Paul and Joseph had a rocky start as far as relationships go. Joseph didn’t trust Paul and Paul didn’t trust himself around Joseph. Setting off alone brought them inevitably together, but it wasn’t instant love – or even like. The progression of their relationship was only part of the story.

I have to admit that historical fiction isn’t my go-to genre. If it’s steampunk though, I find it hard to resist. Joseph was young, but brilliant. He was stronger than people gave him credit for at first glance. Watching Paul slowly gain respect and admiration for him was what made me grow to like him as a character. Honestly, I wasn’t sure at first. Their journey was full of danger, revelations and just enough romance to keep things interesting.

I really hope that this series continues. I enjoy the break out of my usual reading norm. While you’re here, be sure to check out the Gaslamp Fortnight: A Steampunk Book Tour between now and November 7, 2014. Enjoy!


Noble Metals by L.A. Witt

NobleMetalsEver since Robert Belton gambled away the money to stake his claim in the Klondike gold fields, he’s been stranded in Seattle working as a prostitute. When an attractive customer needs help hauling provisions to the frozen north, Robert eagerly volunteers.

Dr. John Fauth is only searching for one thing, and it isn’t gold. He needs platinum for the prototypes of his revolutionary inventions, and if he doesn’t find it in the Klondike, his university career—and his research—is over.

Getting to the Klondike is a grueling, dangerous journey, and just hours after leaving Seattle, John and Robert find themselves in over their heads. John is carrying an invaluable device that his competitors will do anything to get their hands on. And as the cold nights and mutual desire pull John and Robert closer together, they discover that they have much more to lose than gold or platinum.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1You know the saying ‘It’s not you, it’s me?” Before you jump to conclusions, I’m not breaking up with anyone. I’m just trying to give you a frame of reference. I honestly love both steampunk and historical fiction/romance, it just takes me a while to get into. Kind of like dystopian worlds. Once I get my head wrapped around it and get comfortable in the world, I’m good. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get down to the review.

Robert was definitely my favorite character in this couple. He was a little bit broken and pretty much resigned to the fact that he was stuck with the hand he’d been dealt. That didn’t stop him from looking for a way out. Robert was pretty much an open book from the time he was introduced. He had one deep dark secret, but it wasn’t much of a surprise, at least not to me.

John was a different story. Even though the story was told from Robert’s POV, John thoughts and feelings were revealed in his journal entries. I kind of liked that approach, but I still didn’t feel nearly as connected to John as I did to Robert. These men were both driven by entirely different forces and I think I admired Robert’s drive more than John’s.

Regardless, I liked the story. There was danger, action, a new world to get used to and it was all laced with a sweet, yet hot romance. The best part is by the end John won me over. It took him a while though 😉


Agamemnon Frost Trilogy by Kim Knox

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1At first I was going to review these books separately, but once I started reading them I decided to just combine the reviews into one post. They are so inner twined that one flows right into the other. I suggest reading them that way too. I have split the reviews into sections though, but if you read from one to the next I can’t promise you won’t find some spoilery… consider yourself forewarned. 😉

Agamemnon Frost and the House of Death (#1)

AgamemnonFrost1Liverpool, 1891

Decorated artilleryman Edgar Mason was forced to find new work when the British Empire replaced its foot soldiers with monstrous machines. Now he waits on the Liverpool elite as a personal servant. He has just one rule: he won’t work for fashion-addled dandies.

Agamemnon Frost, however, is far from the foppish man-about-town he appears to be. He’s working to protect the Earth from an alien invasion being planned by a face-changing creature known as Pandarus. And on the night he plans to confront the aliens, he enlists Mason to assist him.

For a man to love a man is a serious crime in Victorian England. But when Mason meets Frost, his heart thunders and his blood catches fire. And when Pandarus drags the two men into the torture cellars beneath his house of death to brainwash them, Mason’s new passion may be all that stands between him and insanity.

This is a Steam-punk like I’ve never read before and I liked it. In Kim Knox’s world, Victorian England (and ultimately the world) is invaded by aliens. Their goal is not only to invade and take over, but they turn a select few into their own brand of foot soldiers. It’s a pretty scary concept and the action, danger and mystery keep the pages turning.

In The House of Death, nothing is as it seems and there are few who can be trusted. Mason is thrust into a world that he knew nothing about. Frost is both the cause of his current situation and the only person who can keep him from becoming totally lost. There is a strong attraction between the two men, and the encounters between them are few, but intense. Yet, they walk a fine line and by the end you’re still not quite sure whether Frost is keeping Mason close because of loyalty, guilt, attraction or mistrust… and neither is Mason.

I liked the concept and enjoyed the book, but I’m glad that the next book is already released. Too much was left hanging at the end of this one to walk away from it feeling good about where any of the characters were left. My suggestion is that if you read The House of Death, make sure you have Hollow Ships close by.


Agamemnon Frost and the Hollow Ships (#2)

AgamemnonFrost2Edgar Mason is ready to embark upon his new life at Agamemnon Frost’s side. But all is not perfect. His Martian overlord, Pandarus, has implanted a dark voice in his mind, a voice that urges betrayal. And though Mason can keep close to Frost, there’s little room for romance under the watchful gaze of the engineers from Station X.

That changes when Mason and Frost reopen their investigation into their old enemy’s whereabouts. Posing as double agents and investigating cryptic rumors of “hollow ships,” they find him impersonating a London banker and worm their way into his confidence.

But their success brings them trouble in spades. Pandarus takes them into the belly of his ships, where he plans to transfigure them into mindless automata. And with Earth on the brink of invasion, Frost’s old flame Theodora reappearing and Pandarus’s brainwashing growing more effective, Mason and Frost will find their bond tested as never before.

Things get even more intense in this installment. Not only do Frost and Mason need to find Pandarus, the task seems nearly impossible because they don’t know ‘who’ he is. That, combined with the fact that Mason is fighting off the pull of Pandarus and the constant battle in his head, keeps things more than interesting.

I’m liking this story more as it goes on. The concept is complicated and the pace is fast, but the characters are interesting. It’s been a while since I’ve visited a Steampunk world, so I’m also enjoying the change of pace.

Once again, nothing is as it seems and even when the characters think they know what to expect, another mystery or complication changes things. I like the unexpected. The intense attraction between Mason and Frost is still strong and they manage to work in a few stolen moments, but fate seems to be against them at every turn and when a few other revelations are made, it’s hard to figure out exactly how things can end well for either one of them.

By the time I finished Hollow Ships, I was even more glad that the last book in the trilogy, Crown of Towers, was readily available.


Agamemnon Frost and the Crown of Towers (#3)

AgamemnonFrost3Edgar Mason is losing Agamemnon Frost despite everything they’ve been through—the passion, the torture, the heat. Frost’s fiancée, Theodora, is back, and Mason can feel his lover gravitating toward her. Every day he sees them together, it tears at his heart.

Frost feels raw himself. His brother and sister-in-law are missing, and his guilt about failing to save Theodora from Pandarus eats at him. His feelings for Mason, whom he has put through hell twice already, just twist the screws tighter.

On top of that, Pandarus and the Martians are back to make their final push to Earth, and Frost and Mason are duty bound to fight them. People are vanishing. Bodies are turning up burned beyond recognition in the slums. The bleak, human-less future Frost and Mason saw in the hollow ships has nearly come to pass.

And in order to prevent it, each man will have to make a final choice: lose his lover or doom the world.

I ended up really liking this series. It was full of surprises and it was so worth sticking with until the end. Not that I ever had any doubts.

Mason spent most of Crown of Towers still doubting why Frost kept him close. He was convinced that it was a combination of guilt, protection and and possibly a lack of trust. The one thing he was sure of was that Frost did not care for him as deeply or in the same way that Mason cared for him. The fact that Theodora was back in Frost’s life was the most obvious clue. Basically, Mason spent most of the book heartbroken and trying to hide from Frost.

Frost had plenty to keep him distracted from Mason – keeping Theodora safe and hiding her ‘condition’ from others, finding his brother and family and trying to figure out exactly what Pandarus’ plans were. Not surprisingly, Crown of Towers turned into a fight to the death.

The Agamemnon Frost Trilogy had plenty of action, witty characters and just enough romance to keep things interesting. I liked the new twist in a Steampunk setting. It kept things interesting and definitely made me want to check out more of Kim Knox books.

I ended up giving this book 4 Stars. If I had to rate the series as a whole, it would be a solid 4 as well. I suggest if you pick up one, you pick up the rest. They are much more enjoyable if read one after the other, especially since they are each less than 100 pages. 


Clockwork Princess (Infernal Devices #3) by Cassandra Clare

ClockworkPrincessDanger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy

Tessa Gray should be happy – aren’t all brides happy?
Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute.
A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa’s heart, will do anything to save her.

I’ve actually started this review a couple of times, but didn’t get very far. Why the hesitation? Several reasons actually. The most powerful is that I know that no matter what I say here, how much I wax poetic about the writing, the characters and this amazing world created by Cassandra Clare, I know for a fact that I will never even come close to doing this book even the slightest bit of justice. *sigh*

Clockwork Princess begins pretty much where Clockwork Prince left off. Not much time has passed anyway. There’s a shadow hanging over everyone’s head because of Mortmain and his threat to everyone, especially Tessa, but life still goes on. Wedding plans are being made, name choices for Charlotte and Henry’s child are being tossed around and everyone is trying to get back to normal regardless of the tension they are surrounded by. I think I read the first few chapters of Clockwork Princess just waiting for the next bad thing to happen. In that way, I’m sure, I could sympathize with the characters. Heart break in this book was inevitable. If you’ve read the first two books in this series you already know that. Trust me though, you have no idea exactly how much heart break there is until you read it. The thing is though, there’s also hope despite the heartache. Cassandra Clare did an amazing job of making you feel every happy, sad and angry moment there was to feel. There is no possible way to walk away from this book without feeling something.

I think what makes this series for me is the characters – both the heroes and the villains. Mortmain was beyond evil, but he wasn’t the only one…. you’ll have to read the book to see what I’m talking about. Yet, even he had enough of a human side that you could relate to him in a way. Just enough to see how he became who he was. It didn’t excuse anything that he did, but just that little bit of insight gave his character a whole new dimension. As far as the other characters go? I don’t even know where to begin.

  • Sophie was one of my favorite supporting characters. I loved her strength, her support and her wisdom. She was humble yet not afraid to put people in their place when they needed it.
  • Gideon and Gabriel were the big surprises to me in Clockwork Princess. I don’t want to say too much because reading it all first hand was just too much to spoil.
  • Cicely was another surprise. I originally thought that she was introduced just to add another layer to Will, but she turned out to be so much more than that. True, she was so much like Will at times it was scary, but she was also her own person too. She was witty, strong and determined and her character grew just as much as everyone else’s as the book progressed.
  • Charlotte and Henry went through so much in this book, yet they were as strong as ever. I loved the exasperated way that Charlotte dealt with the Shadowhunters on the surface when it was sometimes painfully evident just how much she not only loved and cared for, but respected them all. I loved Henry even more in this book than in all the others. His creativeness and strength really came through in Clockwork Princess. In a way it felt like he finally got some of the respect he deserved.
  • Magnus…. what can I say? He was perfect in Clockwork Princess, but isn’t he always. He puts up quite a wall around himself, but you could see bits of it crumble from time to time. I love how he is so different in this series, yet in so many ways just the same as he is in the Mortal Instruments.
  • Tessa, Jem and Will… I know that these three characters are separate and deserve to be mentioned as individuals but really, they aren’t. They are who they are and especially who they have become because of each other. What was created in this series is so much more than a love triangle. There’s no animosity between the three. It might be hard to fathom, but they love each other as fiercely as is humanly possible. They have all grown so much as this series has progressed and that love has grown proportionately with them. They are all more than willing to give up everything in order to ensure that the other is okay. The love story between these three is amazingly beautiful and so are the characters behind those emotions.

I honestly had no idea what an amazing journey this series would be when I first asked my daughter if I could read her copy of Clockwork Angel. It was the first book of Cassandra Clare’s that I read and for that reason I still think that the Infernal Devices will always be my favorite. I’m still glad that I’ve read them all though. As amazing as this series is, knowing what happens in the Mortal Instruments adds so much dimension to both series. There are so many subtle references and side comments that you just wouldn’t get if you hadn’t read them both.

As for how the series was brought to a close…. wow… That pretty much sums it up. I couldn’t have picked a better ending. Even though I had a pretty good idea of how one scenario would go, I had no idea how things would finally end. There is absolutely no better word for it than amazing… honestly it was perfect and fans of this series couldn’t have asked for anything more.

I really could have picked quotes from just about every page of this book to share, but I chose this discussion between Magnus and Henry. One of the reasons was because of the humor that is evident, but the other was because of the banter between these two characters. I loved the respect that Magnus showed Henry in not just this scene but others as well. Just one of the many reasons I’ve fallen totally in love with his character.

“Impressive!” Magnus exclaimed, pleased. He lifted a construction of fabric with a large dead bird perched atop it.” And what is this?”

“The Lethal Bonnet,” Henry declared.

“Ah,” said Magnus. “In times of need a lady can produce weapons from it with which to slay her enemies.”

“Well, no,” Henry admitted. “That does sound like a rather better idea. I do wish you had been on the spot when I had the notion. Unfortunately this bonnet wraps about the head of one’s enemy and suffocates them, provided that they are wearing it at the time.”

“I imagine that it will not be easy to persuade Mortmain into a bonnet,” Magnus observed. “though the color would be fetching on him.”

Henry burst into laughter. “Very droll, Mr. Bane.”

If you haven’t read this series, you’re missing an amazing journey.


Ironskin (Ironskin #1) by Tina Connolly

Jane Eliot wears an iron mask. 
It’s the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. The Great War is five years gone, but its scattered victims remain—the ironskin. 
When a carefully worded listing appears for a governess to assist with a “delicate situation”—a child born during the Great War—Jane is certain the child is fey-cursed, and that she can help. 
Teaching the unruly Dorie to suppress her curse is hard enough; she certainly didn’t expect to fall for the girl’s father, the enigmatic artist Edward Rochart. But her blossoming crush is stifled by her own scars, and by his parade of women. Ugly women, who enter his closed studio…and come out as beautiful as the fey. 
Jane knows Rochart cannot love her, just as she knows that she must wear iron for the rest of her life. But what if neither of these things is true? Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of her new life—and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Ironskin is a book that took me totally by surprise. I read the synopsis and thought it sounded interesting. I purposely didn’t read any reviews because I try not to before I read a book (on purpose anyway *blush*.) Since I read this as an ARC from NetGalley, that wasn’t hard. The point is, because I didn’t have any background info on Ironskin, I had no idea that it is actually a steampunk, paranormal take on Jane Eyre. Tina Connolly does an amazing job in weaving this familiar tale into something amazingly new yet just as poetic.

The iron mask that Jane wears in Ironskin is not just to hide the scarring from the Fey curse that she sustained during the Great War. It’s there to protect everyone else. The iron is the only thing that can keep the curse in check because if she exposes the scarring, the curse that she fights within herself will be transferred to others around her. Everyone who is scarred and cursed is saddled with a different curse. They even introduce themselves by their particular curse. Some of the cursed stay hidden among themselves, but Jane wants to live a normal life. That’s how she ends up at the Rochart estate. What she discovers there changes her forever in a multitude of ways.

Edward Rochart is just as damaged as Jane but he hides it well. He lost his wife and is left with his young daughter, Dorie. Jane’s task is to help Dorie control her ‘curse’ and live a normal life as well. The events that unfold once Jane arrives and discovers what she is left to deal with turn this book into one that is impossible to put down.

The action and mysteries revealed don’t slow down. The fey in Ironskin are truly evil with no conscience and quite an agenda. That coupled with Tina Connolly’s poetically descriptive writing style ensure that the pages keep turning.

Ironskin is the first book in a series and is due to be released on October 2, 2012.

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will; the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

I’ve been putting this review off for a couple of days now. Why? Well, besides the fact that I had to recover from the emotional upset, I just don’t know if I can put into words exactly how good this book was. I had been anticipating this book since I finished Clockwork Angel. Of course I’ve had the Mortal Instruments books to keep me busy in the mean time, but there’s just something about the Infernal Devices books that have a totally different effect on me when I read them. Maybe it’s because of the time frame, maybe it’s because of the characters. Whatever the reason, out of the two series, this one still remains my favorite. Oh yeah, I was supposed to be reviewing….

Tessa, Will and Jem are front and center in Clockwork Prince as they should be. I loved their story, even though it inevitably broke my heart. (Yes, there will be tears – count on it.) As promised, we find out about Will’s secrecy and more of Tessa’s background. We are shown a totally surprising side of Jem, at least it was one that I never expected. Even though I loved the story arc of these characters, I think my favorite part of Clockwork Prince was getting to know the other characters.

Sophie was the background character that I think I enjoyed the most. We saw a lot more of her in Clockwork Prince and it was great. The other character that I loved getting to see more of was of course Magnus. I have a totally different image of him in the Infernal Devices than I do in the Mortal Instruments. That’s understandable since he has lived a lifetime between the two series, but it is still amazing to see how Cassandra treats him in the different surroundings. We also see more of Nate, Jessa, Gabriel, Charlotte and Henry. Gideon is also introduced along with a few other new characters. Meeting new characters and Cassandra’s continued development of familiar ones keeps everything fresh and interesting. Pair that with the descriptive details, continued mystery and the emotions that are brought front and center on almost every page, it’s no wonder that this book is so hard to put down.

I could continue gushing, but I’m afraid if I do I will give something away and I don’t want to do that. Clockwork Prince is something that each reader needs to experience for themselves. As far as Will, Jem and Tessa are concerned? I still haven’t picked a ‘team.’ I don’t think I’ll ever be able to chose between the two and I won’t be disappointed in Tessa’s (or Cassandra’s) choice when it’s finally made either. It’s kind of hard walking away from this one feeling like one choice is better than the other, at least it was for me. Let’s just say it’s not a decision that I would want to make. How much longer until Clockwork Princess?

Heartless by Gail Carriger

Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband’s past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux’s latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines and Alexia barely has time to remember she happens to be eight months pregnant.

Will Alexia manage to determine who is trying to kill Queen Victoria before it is too late? Is it the vampires again or is there a traitor lurking about in wolf’s clothing? And what, exactly, has taken up residence in Lord Akeldama’s second best closet?

Oh Alexia, what fun you are to read about! Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate books are fast becoming one of my favorite series of books. They are just so much fun, I’m not sure where to start.

Alexia’s escapades aren’t slowed down in Heartless by her infant inconvenience, they’re just made all the more interesting. Gail’s descriptions of her waddling and the precarious, unflattering predicaments she gets herself into at the later stages of her ‘condition’ are hilarious. Honestly, this series is one of the few that I can count on to make me laugh out loud. Since I was on a roll with books recently that moved me to tears, Alexia and company were a breath of fresh air.

At the crux of these books is the mystery that Alexia must solve while driving her protective alpha husband Connal crazy and pulling all her friends and associates right along with her. Heartless gave a lot of these supporting characters some unexpected depth. Lord Akeldama was back with an unexpected new role in Alexia and Connal’s life. Ivy once again proves that there is more under those ludicrous hats than meets the eye. Biffy is having more trouble with his new life style than anyone seems equipped to handle. Surprisingly, Floote says more in this book than he has said in any of the others and it is still not quite enough to fill in all the blanks (not so surprisingly.) We learn more about Alexia’s father from several unexpected sources. Probably the most surprising and touching part of this story came from Professor Lyall and seeing a side of him that has the potential to take his character in several different directions.

Through all of this, my favorite part is the unconventional love that Alexia and Connal share. They’re not perfect, they both have their faults, they exasperate one another on a regular basis, but they love each other fiercely. Connal showed a loving side in this book that we hadn’t really seen before. His love for Alexia was always evident (even when he didn’t realize it) but in Heartless he showed not only his loyalty, but his love for the members of his pack. It was a great side of Connal to see and gave us even more reason to love him.

The only bad part about finishing Heartless is that we now have to wait for the next installment. Timeless is, however, available for pre-order and is scheduled to be available in February of 2012. I, for one, can’t wait to see what happens next with the newly expanded Maccon clan. Timeless is sure to be filled with more mystery and most importantly fun! 😉

Blameless by Gail Carriger

Quitting her husband’s house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season.

Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London’s vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.

While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires — and they’re armed with pesto.

Can I just say that I am absolutely in love with this series. I know I keep saying this, but it is just plain fun to read. There is no other description for it. It’s smart, witty and laugh out loud funny. End of story. Well, to be honest, there is a lot more to the story. Which is part of what makes The Parasol Protectorate such an excellent series to get caught up in.

Alexia is front and center in this book, as is to be expected. The real gem of this book is the supporting characters. They all seem to be coming into their own and even flighty Ivy has some unexpected substance in her character. Who knew? Of course as Professor Lyall guessed, she couldn’t have been a friend of Alexia’s and been totally without merit now could she? I did miss Lord Akeldama and his flowery presence, but under the circumstances, he is forgiven. I do hope to see him more in the following books though.

There is so much that goes on in this book, I’m finding it hard to review it without giving anything away. It’s safe to say though that anyone who was less than happy with the ending of Changeless will be appeased by Blameless – to an extent. 😉 There are still mysteries to be solved and answers to be had, but isn’t that what keeps us clamoring for the next book? Ms. Carriger is very clever that way.