**This review was completed from an e-ARC provided by the author. I have also purchased the e-book and ordered the print copy as well, it’s that good**
There are some books that one races through, delighted to be taken on an authorial romp or determined to find out how the story ends. There are others that are a slog or which must be chewed slowly in order to digest everything within. And then there are those that you string out as long as you possibly can because you’re enjoying it and you don’t want it to end.
By the start of the second chapter section, cleverly set off with werewolf shadow icons, I knew this was that last kind.
Carriger brings her readers back to a post-Alexia world and while it is firmly within the Parasolverse she has so comprehensively created, this book easily stands alone. New readers will intimate there there have been other stories, but this doesn’t prevent the enjoyment of seeing an alpha male (in the romantic story sense, not the werewolf sense) meet his match.
Excepting the paranormal aspect of it, this is a fairly straight-forward historical romance — I’d call it a Regency Romance more for the style than the time period. Boy meets girl; boy and girl are both rather flawed; boy and girl spend the book trying to sort out each other and their romance. There is sexual wordplay but it’s overall chaste until the end.
But Carriger is never quite that simplistic. We are dropped into a story that opens with familial anger at some misbehavior on the heroine Faith’s part. She is banished to England (an amusing reversal) to find a werewolf husband only to encounter on first landing the obnoxious Channing. There is a sub-plot of missing Sundowner bullets and another of parental abuse towards a child that may be difficult for anyone who knows what it is to walk on eggshells around a parent known to unexpectedly lash out verbally or physically.
Carriger does not excuse the faults of her leads, nor does she indicate that love will perfectly solve everything. That realistic aspect keeps the characters from becoming caricature.
After so many books, it was sorrowful and a relief to learn Channing’s past and to have a happy ending for him. And where Carriger’s last book was a love story to her readers, this felt a little fresher. I was left with anticipation for further books in the “Claw and Courtship” series, ones that may not include characters I already know so well.
This book though I needed to also order in print, so that next time the author is in town I can bring it along, abused, dropped in the tub once, and splattered with hot tea on a few pages, for a signature.