A short time ago, I made a brief list of recommendations for those wishing to read more Steampunk novels. On that list was Soulless by Gail Carriger, Book 1 of the Parasol Protectorate and the introduction of Miss Alexia Tarabotti -- a 25-year-old spinster who wields a silver-tipped parasol filled with buckshot. And happens to fall for Lord Conall Maconn, the 200-year-old Earl of Woolsey who is also a werewolf. Yes, you read correctly, a werewolf.
On a related note, Kristin Nelson -- she of Pub Rants fame -- is Carriger's agent. I mention this because the indomitable Ms. Nelson recently posted the query letter that Carriger used to win representation. It's interesting because Carriger billed Soulless as a paranormal romance as opposed to a steampunk romance. And, upon reading the book, I can see why Carriger decided to focus on the paranormal aspect rather than the steampunk.
I say this because the inner dealings of vampire and werewolf politics are a bigger portion of the book than the steampunk science elements are. However, and this made me very happy, the final third of the book is a tour-de-force of Frankenstein-esque mad science perpetrated by men who believe they're helping humanity by putting supernaturals -- vampires and werewolves -- through testing worthy of the craziest madmen in literature.
Soulless is definitely a romance novel. The amount of detail in the make-out scenes between Alexia and Conall makes that abundantly clear. All in all though, Carriger crafts an interesting, brainy heroine; an intelligent, powerful man to match her; and a villain that you really really want to see them triumph over. And the voice of the novel recalls some of most entertaining Victorian stories ever.
Suffice to say, I loved reading this book. The sequel -- Changeless -- is coming out at the end of March, by the way. I'll probably read that one too. Even if it is another romance novel. ;)