By Gail Carriger
Publisher: Gail Carriger
To Sum It Up: Lady Preshea Villentia has buried four husbands, earning her the nickname the Mourning Star and quite the notoriety to go with it. Her lethal reputation is not entirely unfounded, however, as Preshea has, in fact, been thoroughly trained in a variety of deadly arts. Her current mission finds her thwarting an unsuitable love match and a possible assassination. Preshea is accustomed to walking into danger, even if it is at a house party in the country, but perhaps the biggest threat she faces is having her heart stolen.
Review: Gail Carriger’s works are always a hoot to read, so of course I had to snap up her new novella, Poison or Protect, which takes place in her Victorian steampunk/paranormal world. The novella is set between Carriger’s YA Finishing School series and her adult Parasol Protectorate series and features Lady Preshea Villentia (née Buss), one of the characters from Finishing School. Preshea has gained quite the scandalous reputation since leaving Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality; four dead husbands have earned her the moniker the Mourning Star. But then, Preshea’s education was just as focused on the arts of espionage and assassination as it was on perfecting a curtsey.
In Poison or Protect, Preshea gets the opportunity to flex her formidable skills at a country house party, where she crosses paths with Captain Gavin Ruthven. The chemistry between these two is instant and an absolute delight to watch evolve. There’s so much more to Preshea’s character than society’s perception of her as a widow four times over, and kind, patient Gavin realizes that. He’s truly a gentleman, of the sort that induces intense swooning. Gavin and Preshea are also well-matched wit-wise, and their verbal exchanges will have you smiling throughout.
I often hesitate to read novellas because I’m afraid they’ll end too soon. Poison or Protect, however, makes maximal use of every word. I was extremely impressed with how much story this novella packed into its pages. The plot is perfectly paced, and we get to spend plenty of time becoming acquainted with its characters. For fans of Carriger’s other series, there may be a surprise cameo or two. And you can absolutely read this even if you’ve read none, some, or all of Carriger’s previous books.
I LOVED Poison or Protect. I laughed, I swooned, and I occasionally had to put the Kindle down to crank up the AC because this splendid little story gets quite steamy, and not from the steampunk. I can’t recommend this novella enough; it’s brimming with humor and intrigue and will utterly charm you.
All in All: Gail Carriger’s foray into adult romance is a smashing success! I hope she has a lot of these Delightfully Deadly novellas planned because I plan on reading every single one of them!