Poison or Protect by Gail Carriger (Delightfully Deadly #1)
Released: June 21, 2016
Reviewed by Mandi
Favorite Quote: “Listen to me, my deadly little pearl. Choose love. Always choose love. If the decision is between love and anything else, choose love.”
I haven’t read Gail Carriger in so long – fail on my part! I really enjoyed the first few Parasol Protectorate books, and then unfortunately, she fell off my radar. Shame on me. Poison or Protect is an adorable novella, that works well as a stand-alone. It falls in the paranormal/steampunk/historical genre and while it took me a few pages to settle into the prose of this book, it is a fast and adorable read.
Lady Preshea Villentia is known as “The Mourning Star” as she has four dead husbands in the grave. Rumors swirl that she poisoned them all, and Preshea is content to let that rumor go – and is also pretty proud of her title.
Preshea was proud of Mourning Star. It took two dead husbands before they called her anything special at all, and when it stuck through the next two, she knew herself to be infamous. It could have been worse; some of her American counterparts got monikers like Black Widow. Absolutely ghastly.
But as the blurb states, “What society doesn’t know is that all her husbands were marked for death by Preshea’s employer.” Oooooh. And her final assignment might look boring on paper, but things turn very interesting. Preshea is a trained assassin, and this employer mentioned, a vampire, sends her to a house party out in the country with two goals: One, to keep the duke, who has passionate political views, and who resides at this house, safe from an assassination attempt. And two, to help the duke remove his daughter’s suitor, who he deems to be….unsuitable. Preshea agrees, and off she goes.
Our hero is a huge, growly scottish werewolf. Is there anything better than a growly, scottish werewolf? I think not! He is so cute. He ends up at the same house party for two reasons as well: One, his good friend is the unsuitable suitor, who is a little loud, and talks about topics that aren’t really proper, and Gavin goes to help keep his friend, Mr. Jackson in check. It’s a hard job:
“My pearl of the sea,” he declared at one point, “I will find for you all the delectables of the briny deep. Have you ever had winkles?”
“Pardon me?” Lady Violet was taken aback.
“Winkles!” said Mr Jackson loudly. “Sea snails, don’t ya know? Like whelks, only smaller. Very tasty. You must try them. Next time I visit the seaside, I shall return with a bouquet of the little creatures.”
“Oh, dear.” Lady Violet was coming over faint.
When they all arrive, witty banter ensues. Preshea has a reputation, and she knows it, and uses it to mingle innocently with the guests, all the while keeping an eye on the duke and try to figure out how to breakup a courtship. As the days progress, Gavin and Preshea start this adorable romance. Preshea has had four husbands who have treated her badly. She considers herself a virgin, because she has never wanted their kisses or sexual advances. Gavin is this huge guy, and she can’t help but think the worst of him at first.
He would be no different from the others. His tenderness was a front to hide angry force. He was a soldier and he had killed, like her. Once bare of society’s trappings, he would be as demanding as any man, as ignorant of her needs, as cruel in his desire. How dare she want? To forget the past so easily?
But he is so sweet, and so gentle, and when their first kiss does come, it’s exactly what Preshea needs:
“Will you be kissing me now?” he wondered.
“Should you like it if I did?”
She stood on her tiptoes and braced one hand on his shoulder, the other on his wide chest.
He bent down. He had to; even on her toes she wasn’t tall enough. He waited, though, for her to begin. How did he know how much she needed that patience? How important it was for him not to be just another man who wanted to consume her.
Someone find me a werewolf to kiss, immediately!
Great pacing, great sexual tension, great banter – for a quirky, quick read, pick this one up.