These are the first (and, so far, only) two books in the Supernatural Society series of novella’s. Set in a steampunk alternative Victorian England where vampires, werewolves and ghosts are very much real, they feature LGBT+ romances. (Set in Carriger’s ‘Parasolverse’.)
Romancing the Inventor
What one werewolf knew, the whole pack knew.
But they’d kept her secret, and now they were gone.
And vampires were perverted.
Or so she hoped.
Imogene is a little past her prime (long in the tooth, on the shelf, whatever you prefer) and her mother is starting to despair of every marrying her off. Imogene has had plenty of offers, plenty of men that want to marry her for she is uncommonly pretty. However, she is disinterested as she prefers women.
In an effort explore her preference, loose her innocence and figure out what’s wrong with her, she decides to join the vampires. (As, rumor has it, they are perverted.) What she doesn’t expect is to meet the lovely trouser wearing inventor indentured to the vampire hive, Genevieve Lefoux.
I’ll be honest, the major reason I’ve been so excited for this story is because I have adored Genevieve since her first introduction in the story. I adore her, and her romance was a little disappointing because this entire story is told from Imogene’s perspective. So, while we get plenty of moments of Genevieve appreciation, we also don’t get inside her head. (We do get to see her flustered though, and that has made me want to run away with her even more.)
Imogene is a real character. She is an innocent, but her thoughts definitely aren’t and, if she had her way, she wouldn’t be an innocent any more (because a lot of her thought’s are along the lines of ways to loose said innocence). She’s fairly practical and down to earth, but has a distressingly low opinion of herself. She also suffers from being too pretty.
Now, I know a lot of people will say that’s not a real flaw – and I agree that how it is usually done, it isn’t. But here, it is. Because, much like real life stories, bad things happen to Imogene because of her looks. She’s dismissed because someone pretty obviously cannot also be smart and, even worse, men want to take advantage of her because she is so pretty. Because of this, and her generally low station in society, some of the story is a little difficult.
Content Advisory: Scenes of physical abuse, mostly from a position of power, most of it sexual. Scenes that could easily be read as attempted rape. Threats of rape. (None of this between the main couple.) Consensual sex. (This is between the main couple. 😉
Romancing the Werewolf
It took a great deal of effort for a werewolf to have style. Getting naked once a month, ripping clothes constantly, and turning into a slavering beast was only the start of the afterlife’s many dandy challenges.
Twenty years ago, newly turned werewolf Alpha Biffy and Beta werewolf Professor Lyall spent a night of passion and comfort in each others arms. However, circumstances intruded and Lyall had to temporarily join another pack in reparation for a decision he made.
Now Lyall, recompense completed, has returned to London, to his pack, to his Alpha – but not everything is smooth sailing. Twenty years is a long time, even for immortals, and Biffy just took charge of the pack upon the previous Alpha’s retirement two months ago. Throw in a pack of werewolves adjusting to both a new Alpha and a new home, children being left on their doorstep and things are just complicated enough for both to wonder if friendship is all they’ll have.
Firstly, Lyall was always one of my favorite characters in this setting, so I was thrilled to see the first tentative get together between him and Biffy in Timeless and even more happy when I heard this book would finally give them some resolution. They are perfect for each other and I adore the way they work together and rely on each other.
Lyall is down-to-earth, calm, practical, a true Beta in ever sense of the word. Biffy is an atypical Alpha. He’s pretty, he likes fashion and was even planning on trying to be turned into a vampire before events transpired. They are very different, but so complementary – especially in that neither is the ‘usual’ rough-and-tumble sort of werewolf.
(Now, I honestly cannot read this book without comparing it to the previous one in the series because I read them back-to-back.)
Where this story wins out over the previous one for me, is three fold. This story has a plot beyond the couple getting together – a plot that we see resolution to and that affords ample opportunity for the typical Carriger insanity that she writes so well. (That was reasons one and two.) (And while Lyall is practical, he’s not as extremely normal as Imogene is, which was somewhat detrimental to Carriger’s writing style.)
The third reason is a case of major personal preference. I usually prefer a romance where we get to witness it through both characters. I like an alternating point of view. I like seeing what each person thinks of the other. (And, in truth, I prefer more than one perspective even if it’s not a romance.) Finally, while I’m not really a fan of the so-called ‘second chance’ romances, this one worked for me because they were never actually a couple before. (More like friends with benefits.)
Content Advisory: Briefly referenced past rape and physical abuse. Consensual sex.
While I find both these books (novella’s, but whatever) very nice additions to the ‘verse that Carriger has created, I’m not sure either work as an appropriate jumping on point. If you’re interested in the first published work, check out Soulless and if you’d prefer to read the series chronologically, try Etiquette & Espionage. (The former is more bodice ripper sexy while the latter is YA boarding (spy) school.)