I really wanted to like this book. I really did. It has a gorgeous cover. It has an awesome concept. My problem is that it is not quite as advertised.
Read the blurb. Look at the cover. If you're like me, you're expecting kind of a Victorian-steampunk urban fantasy with a kick-ass heroine vampire-slayer, maybe with a secret society of other monster hunters (hence the Parasol Protectorate title), and maybe with a small side of romance.
Instead, what lurks inside these pages is a bodice ripper, complete with stereotypical alpha male, with all the potential of a great story wasted.
Alexia as a character really bothers me. She's a cobbled-together mess of stereotypes. She doesn't think she's pretty, yet she's often described as having a great body and 'exotic' looks from her Italian father. She reads a lot, but doesn't come off as bookish. She's a special snowflake too because of her 'soulless' status.
The soullessness is one of the biggest flaws, IMO. It felt over-simplified and often glossed-over. It really doesn't seem to impact her much, outside of a tendency for blunt speech and the fact that she says she has no taste of her own, so she dresses in the height of fashion. Plus, if she doesn't have a soul, would she fall in love at all? The author seems to abandon her soulless idea often when it suits her.
Alexia's romance with Lord Conall Maccon, the Scottish alpha werewolf, is a real disappointment. It's the kind of romance I typically like, consisting of bickering leading to heated moments, with tension ratcheting up between the characters until they admit their feelings. However, there was something about the romance that left me cold, no matter how many excuses the author found to have the characters wind up on top of one another in various states of dress.
I will say that I liked several of the side characters, including Lord Akeldama, Ivy, and Professor Lyall, and wished for more of them. But overall, I'm too disappointed in the wasted potential here to read further in the series.
(Edited: fixed a spelling error)