So. As I said two weeks ago, I broke my own rule and I bought a book without reading the free sample first.
Now, the review of Blameless, by Gail Carriger.
The first thing you might note is that it took me 14 days to finish reading the book. You might think, since I was so excited about reading it, that this is significant. You might be right.
The first book in the series was great fun, as was the second. These books are lighthearted Victorian steampunk with vampires and werewolves (and Templars), oh my! When in the opening sequence of the first book, Soulless, our heroine is forced to kill a vampire not because he tried to bite her, but because he didn’t introduce himself properly first? Well, Victorian fun is about to cut loose. These books are published by Orbit, a science fiction/fantasy publisher. They are not romances. But the relationship between the headstrong, unmarriageable spinster Alexia Tarabotti and the surly, Scottish werewolf Lord Maccon is such a huge part of the books’ appeal. It is charming and cantankerous and pulled in a lot of readers who were at least as interested in the romance as the steampunk fun.
Carriger was the victim of some bad promotions because at the time the second book, Changeless, was released, Amazon was already promoting Blameless and making it available as a pre-order–with a summary that revealed the huge cliffhanger ending of book two. There were many readers who decided they would not read Changeless until they had Blameless in hand, because they didn’t want to have to wait months for the sequel. I assume it was Orbit’s summary that was used, and I can imagine how frustrating it was to Carriger to put disclaimers on her blog in every single post, warning potential readers not to read the summary of book three unless they wanted to be spoiled. However, she has had phenomenal sales so hopefully it hasn’t hurt too much.
I, for one, loved the cliffhanger, and (as has been noted) eagerly awaited its resolution.
Which brings us to Blameless. I hate spoilers. This is one spoiler that I would have appreciated. I might have been better prepared to enjoy the book had I been forewarned.
What I am about to say has been mentioned in every review I’ve read because it’s impossible to review the book without mentioning it, but if you hate spoilers, skip the next paragraph. And if you want to know more than I’m willing to say, go find other reviews.
Alexia and Lord Maccon are kept apart throughout the entirety of Blameless. At least half of the charm of the first two books is missing. And if the relationship between them (and how they are going to deal with the “cliffhanter-inconvenience”) is what has left you Breathless for this book, you, like me, are going to be disappointed. That said, the book is filled with twists, turns, steampunky goodness, and Professor Lyall. It has much to offer. But in this case I think I would have been better served if I had known going in that the irascible duo were not going to be together in this book, because that is why it took me so long to read it.
That said, it does have some wonderful twists and turns, including one near the end that has introduced an entirely new twist to spice up the next book in the series. I’m glad I bought it, glad I read it, and will read the next and the next. But I agree with reviewers who had problems with the aforementioned spoiler, and a certain resolution at the very end of this book.
If I were someone who gave stars for reviews, Blameless would get fewer stars than Soulless and Changeless. But it would still get a decently-high rating.
Edited to add: I’m glad to report that I recently saw a review where the reader liked Blameless better than Changeless, so see? Mileage definitely varies!
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