Author: Gail Carriger
Published: June 28th, 2011
Synopsis: 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? (from Goodreads.com)
If you've been following my blog for any length of time, you are most likely aware that I am a fan of the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger. Her humorous steampunk novels are a tickle in a world that needs as much as it can get. If you have never read Gail's work, you can find my reviews for BOOK 1, BOOK 2 & BOOK 3 by clicking the links.
Ms. Carriger's fourth book in the series is another brilliantly, lovely read. However, while I feel that Heartless is nothing but spectacular, I also feel that it doesn't quite live up to the amazingness that was the first in the series, Soulless. The initial book in the series starts off with Alexia Tarrabotti in the thick of spinsterhood. I believe it is this preliminary introduction of Alexia and her creative antics that leads to the addictiveness of that first book and, in following, the rest of the series. Changeless was hilariously perfect with the addition of the scientific genius Madame Lafoux in all her manly garb, during a century when she would have been looked down on for such dress. Blameless, book three, added in a more developed personality of Floote, Alexia's dearest butler, and a broader look at the world in which Alexia lives.
Heartless, the fourth and most recently published, in the series is that of a very pregnant Alexia and her plan to keep from getting killed. While scheming and plotting with the devilishly brilliant Professor Lyall added with the fanatical antics/genius of Lord Akeldama and a yummy touch of Lord Connall Maccon the plot thickens to become one of suspense and interesting clothing choices. When finally it seems Alexia is safe, suddenly she is warned of a plot against the queen and has made it her duty, and that of her eight month pregnant body, to root out the culprit and stop the madness.
I never tire of Alexia's antics throughout every book. Her husband, the deliciously sexy Scotsman werewolf only adds to the mirth set within every line of the book as it does the salivating factor for the reader. However, the most favorite of characters is sure to be Lord Akeldama. He seems to be a multilevel character that never shows his true self on the surface. His mostly permanent face is set for more than just outsiders, it is set for himself. The clothes, the personality, the gayety with which he tackles his continuous existence, it's a coping mechanism...it's also so funny it brings tears to the eyes. But then, just so subtle, just so amazingly light and delicate, he shows his serious side, a side that seems sad and hurt and doesn't know what the next step to take and as the reader, while you feel that stark connection to him, you would rather have the boisterous Lord Akeldama back to temper your good humor back into play. It's an amazing development, to be sure, and it makes me love every part of his character.
Heartless weaves and winds and gives a side to many of the characters that the reader had either decided to not like or be angry at, turning the tides on the feelings that may have been premature in the first place. It connects the series together, finally bringing the Parasol Protectorate into play and pulling at old histories that thread their way through the pages sewing together hints and mentions from previous books, tying some of the loose ends back together and creating an entire slew of new problems and questions for the Parasol Protectorate series. Heartless is a exquisite read that while not quite as good as that very first taste of Alexia, still better than the second or third. Which in turn makes me believe that book five will be only that much better and Alexia will surprise us around even more turns than she has thus far.