Sunday, September 12, 2010

Blameless by Gail Carriger


Book Description:
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.

Blameless is the much anticipated third installment of the Parasol Protectorate, the romantic steampunk adventure series starring the very much lately maligned and pregnant, Alexia, Lady Maccon.  Picking up on the cliffhanger ending of the last book, Changless, Alexia flees her werewolf husband, Connall Woolsey, after he denounces her as unfaithful upon learning of her unprecedented condition.  In the alternate paranormal Victorian world in which they live, it is impossible for werewolves to breed.  Hence, Connall accuses Alexia of shacking up with someone else, thus getting himself in a colossal tizzy leading to a permanent state of formaldehyde induced inebriation.
Not about to take his sh*t, Alexia packs her things up and with the aid of her remaining friends, escapes to Italy looking for proof that the baby is indeed her husband's (even though she's mad as hell at the lout and wishes the worst upon him). Facing deadly vampires, a single-minded and ex-communicated German professor and a host of Templar Knights, Alexia still finds time to partake and enjoy in the delights of Italian cuisine. The book was a fun read, but disappointing due to the long separation between Connall and Alexia.

In the last two books, their relationship is my favorite aspect of the series.  I just sort of put up with all the steampunk mechanical folderal because I loved Conall and Alexia.  Here, they are separated, in fact he is drunk most of the time and not even around.  She's off defending herself against motorized poisonous ladybugs and inquisitive scientists who want to dissect her and learn why she, a preternatural, can become pregnant with a werewolf's child.  I wanted more of Alexia and Connall - together!  It's not until the last chapter we finally get our wish, but it was long in coming.   I was gratified by the ending when they are finally reunited, yet Connall's gross error and delay in rectifying it just seemed to be glossed over. Are we supposed to believe because he is a highly emotional werewolf and alpha of the pack he's entitled to these kind of lapses in judgment? I did rejoice inwardly with Alexia when she realizes he has printed an "apology" in the London papers, thus making Alexia acceptable again in society, yet by the time they are reunited, there is no climatic moment in which he begs her forgiveness.  It's all just gruff and understood, it doesn't help that all hell is breaking loose and it's kind of hard to talk at that moment either!

Now, of course, it wasn't all bad, but just not what I anticipated or wanted to read about.  It was a let down, particularly since reading Changeless I've become acquainted with the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters and I definitely see the similarities.

As with Amelia and Emerson in Peters' series, the energy needed here to keep the series afloat is dependent on Alexia and Conall’s relationship. To me, all the other side characters, steampunk inventions and silliness come in second to their interaction, hence why Blameless was not as satisfying a read to me.  I can't help but compare my new favorites, Amelia and Emerson to Alexia and Conall - only in supernatural form.  The zest, the appeal - the sheer giddy humor between Alexia and Connall from the last book was sorely missed in this one! I still enjoyed it, but the reason why was mostly thanks to Prof. Lyall's side story as acting alpha while Connall is out of commission on his neverending bender.  His interaction with Lord Akeldama's close and personal friend, Biffy, was also a welcome and thought provoking surprise to what was an otherwise dullish story.  Another figure I find interesting is Colonel Channing Channing who plays an important, albeit covert, role.  I'd like to know what Ms. Carriger has in mind for his future in the series as well..

I've read the reviews that are out there on Blameless and I agree with the overall consensus that because of the separation and lack of banter and simple proximity between Connall and Alexia, Blameless lost it’s fizz and wasn’t as entertaining a read as the first two previous books in the series. But, I have high hopes in regard to the future!  I’ll admit much of the mechanical descriptions were beyond me and not my “thing,” yet I still enjoyed the book and there were loads of funny predicaments, and I loved Alexia's love for pesto (and Connall's aversion to it!), her many one-liners and a particularly delicious image of Connall blithely walking around in the buff.  Yet, I missed what should have been the grand finale in which Connall prostrates himself in undying love and begs Alexia's forgiveness, although something tells me Alexia is not going to let him live this indiscretion down.  Still, I'm crazy about him - the big, hairy lug.



Blodeuedd said...

Too bad it isn't as good :( But yes Connal and She makes the book so I get that. oh and heard that he doesn't beg, he should have begged on his knees....will read soooon!

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Blod - yes, there's no big climatic moment between them when he begs her forgiveness. She finds out from a newspaper clipping and then by the time they do see each other again - it's old news!

Danielle said...

I agree 100%.
I think Carriger wanted to shake the foundations in this 3rd book... and that could have worked, if she hadn't built up Alexia and Connall so beautifully in previous books that their lack of proximity actually *hurt* and made this book lacking.

I can kind of see where Carriger was coming from (and 3rd books, generally, have to be a spanner in the works of the series and protagonist) but it wasn't executed quite well enough in this novel.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Danielle-so it's almost as if Carriger has been hurt by her own success? I do agree that she tried to shake things up with this book and be daring with the plotline by keeping them apart. It's almost as if she's toying with her fans - a no, no in my book. Didn't she realize her Alexia?/Connall fans would have felt put out and deflated? There's a happy ending, but even that was one chapter, if that, and I think many wanted to see Connall grovel on his knees. I know in my case, I would have preferred more of their relationship and less steampunk inventions and gadgetry.

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