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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

'Poison or Protect' Delightfully Deadly novella #1 by Gail Carriger

Received from the author in exchange for an honest review

From the BLURB:

Can one gentle Highland soldier woo Victorian London’s most scandalous lady assassin, or will they both be destroyed in the attempt? 

New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger presents a stand-alone romance novella set in her popular steampunk universe full of manners, spies, and dainty sandwiches.

Lady Preshea Villentia, the Mourning Star, has four dead husbands and a nasty reputation. Fortunately, she looks fabulous in black. What society doesn’t know is that all her husbands were marked for death by Preshea’s employer. And Preshea has one final assignment.

It was supposed to be easy, a house party with minimal bloodshed. Preshea hadn’t anticipated Captain Gavin Ruthven – massive, Scottish, quietly irresistible, and… working for the enemy. In a battle of wits, Preshea may risk her own heart – a terrifying prospect, as she never knew she had one.

Buy Poison or Protect today to find out whether it’s heartbreak or haggis at this high tea.

Warning: Contains men pleasing women, and ladies who know what they want and ask for it, sometimes in detail. May also contain plaid, appearances from favorite characters, and the strategic application of leather gloves.

‘Poison or Protect’ is the first in a series of ‘Delightfully Deadly’ novellas, set in the same universe as Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate and Custard Protocol series’.

Before I delve into the deliciousness of this first novella, I’ve got to quote from Ms Carriger’s website and get just a little bit excited over what readers have in store from the pre-eminent steampunk romance author.

The Delightfully Deadly novella series is set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate series and features characters who appeared in the Finishing School series but are now grown up. As well as the DD novella series, fans will be treated to Supernatural Society Novellas – stand alone LBGT romances – as well as Claw & Courtship Novellas – which are coming in 2017, and are stand alone werewolf romances. This shall be nothing short of a fantasy feast for fans – and this fan in particular who is always happy to visit and revisit Carriger’s endlessly fascinating and fabulous steampunk/urban fantasy universe.

The first in ‘Delightfully Deadly’ is ‘Poison or Protect’, which tells the story of ex-drone to Lord Akeldama, turned deadly assassin, Lady Preshea Villentia (I always want to applaud Carriger’s character names). Preshea is tasked with attending a house party where she’ll be expected to protect her Tory host from assassination, and dissuade his young and impressionable (not to mention, moneyed) daughter from marrying a gauche gentleman and fortune-seeker called Jackson.

Except there’s one problem – young man Jackson is attending the house party with his best friend and fellow werewolf, Captain Gavin Ruthven – a much more sensible (and sensuous) retired Scottish officer who Preshea becomes complicatedly attracted to.

I adored this novella. There are lots of old favorites and familiar faces peppered throughout, but Preshea and Gavin’s romance is entirety fresh and fabulous. Both characters have interesting enough back-stories and proclivities that were simply delicious to unpack. Preshea, for instance, is nicknamed The Mourning Star because she’s been through four husbands already (and she’s too beautiful for a moniker like Black Widow Spider, thankfully).

“My skill set is in quite the opposite direction. It is unladylike to brag, but I could steer this dirigible, if needed.” 
Both men looked more admiring than shocked. Good, I have judged them correctly. These were that unusual breed of male that admired a capable female. 
Preshea found herself in an unexpected predicament. Enjoying the float, fighting an inclination for the wrong man, and a genuine affection for both.

Gavin may be big and burly, but he’s a gentleman who likes to be led by a stronger female in the bedroom … And when these two meet there’s a slow spark of chemistry that ends up igniting on the page.

“Lass, I want this clear – I’d apply for the position of fifth husband, if you’d permit.” 
“Oh, yes? Here I thought you desired a long and happy life.” 
“Aye, lass, but I’d as soon a shorter one with you than a longer one without.”

Gail Carriger is just one of the funniest, most charming and original writers I’ve ever come across – and I’m downright delighted that she’s gifting readers these novellas, so as to consume more of her words and live a little longer in her worlds. I’m particularly excited for the Supernatural Society LGBT+ novella series, and even more so since there’s a couple in ‘Poison or Protect’ who really intrigued me. I have a feeling that as more of these novellas come out, I’ll be moved to re-read all of her series in chronological order just for my own pure delight!


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