I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
Alexia 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?
A cute paranormal romance, set in an alternate Victorian England, featuring steampunk elements, werewolves, and vampires. And really, if Victorian England doesn’t have werewolves and vampires, why would I read about it? Our heroine, Alexia, is soulless and therefore able to neutralize the magic (or excessive amounts of soul) that animate both of vampires & werewolves in this version of London.
This is kind of a modified Cinderella tale--Alexia actually has two gorgeous half-sisters, rather than step-sisters, and a mother who doesn’t value her unique qualities. They consider it punishment to stay home from various social events, but Alexia has somewhat reluctantly come to prefer her books and a good cup of tea. However, she is thrown into the company of Lord Maccon, the werewolf in charge of investigating paranormal oddities, and sparks fly. Her family’s idea of Alexia as an unmarriageable spinster may need some adjustment.
Bonus point for Lord Akeldama, a flamboyant vampire who chooses to be Alexia’s friend and confidante. He is tougher than he chooses to appear. Minus a point for Alexia’s sidekick, Ivy, who doesn’t get to talk to Alexia about anything besides men and her poor taste in hats.
There is nominally a mystery to be solved, but it comes to a conclusion almost as a side issue to the opponents-to-lovers romance plot. To some extent, I think the author might have been better served to draw out the couple’s courtship over two or three books, to produce more dramatic tension in the future volumes, but perhaps there is still enough oomph to carry the action forward for 4 more installments. I’m more than willing to give the next book a try, anyway.