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Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate)

Soulless - Gail Carriger, Gail Carriger I'd really like to give this book three and half stars, but the system doesn't allow half ratings! I picked this book up because I like all the genres being mashed together - steampunk, historical romance, paranormal (ok, I don't really love paranormal.) I was struck by the main character immediately - her voice was distinctive and I loved the style of writing.

It seemed to have a bit of self-awareness and didn't mind poking fun at the genres. Or at least that's what I assumed, as the first appearance of a pair of goggles came right away, with dirigibles soon to follow. As I read on though I was less sure. There wasn't really much in the way of steampunk except for the aforementioned items and an occasional steam powered tea kettle. And that's ok, but I wish it hadn't been replaced with extra romance and a helping of vampire/werewolf political intrigue.

I know it's a personal pet peeve, but I really don't like how every book about supernatural beings has to spend so much time on the political structures involved. It's tedious, and I really don't find myself caring about them. As for the romance, well... it felt a bit forced. I read plenty of romance, and I didn't buy this one. I disliked how Alexia was constantly in need of saving by her "Alpha" (hate that term.) It robbed the character of the spunk and independence I saw in the beginning. I found the intimate scenes to be a bit dry and almost embarrassing to read. I did not find the hero to be especially appealing.

The resolution to the story was rushed. It all made sense, and I don't have a problem with the idea, but it seemed to come all of a sudden. I did like some of the supporting characters, in particular Lord Akeldama. Having said that, I was troubled a few times by how often the author went to the well of stereotypes to paint him as a homosexual. At one point I he says: It was such a glorious time to be alive, when men finally and truly got to wear sparkly things... That instance really stuck out to me as a bit over the top. To be fair, Lord Akeldama does get to have a bit more depth later on, and in the end was one of the best understood characters.

So I guess what I'm saying is that I'm conflicted - the first half was 4.5 stars, and the last half barely three. I still liked it enough to continue in the series, and I hope to get to those soon!

As an aside, I read the Kindle version, which was fairly riddled with typos. Not enough to be distracting, mostly a few missing spaces between words etc.