The second installment of Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series, Changeless, is a fine sequel to an excellent beginning. Lord Maccon has married Alexia Tarabotti (despite her being very headstrong and half-Italian) and the now Lady Maccon is learning just what it is to be the Alpha female of a pack... and still deal with her damned Scottish husband who means well, but is either under her petticoats or nowhere to be found. With her marriage giving her a certain level of propriety (an unmarried lady, apparently, just wouldn't cut it), Alexia was offered a place on Queen Victoria's Shadow Council (as England's preeminent preternatural), which means she argues weekly with the potentate (a rogue werewolf) and the dewan (a rogue vampire) over supernatural matters concerning the crown and greater English populace. It certainly helps that her husband is the head of the BUR when it comes to gathering information, but still, no one really tops her dear friend Lord Akeldama and his host of fashionable drones.

While London has a reasonably tolerant atmosphere towards supernaturals, it doesn't mean that everyone is delighted with them (as evidenced by the last book where scientists with a radical bent were intent on wiping out most supernatural creatures) and so the question of a way to fight/control supernaturals is always buzzing about... most particularly after a period of time in which all of London seems inflicted with some kind of normalizing effect that renders werewolves unable to change and vampires incapable of showing fang. This is highly unsettling, indeed, but perhaps more unsettling for Alexia is the fact that her husband takes off for Scotland to figure out the source of this normalizing (and deal with a few matters pertaining to his old pack) without so much as a by-your-leave! And with a full regiment of werewolves camping on her front lawn, to boot!

Unsurprisingly, Alexia ends up following her husband, though she comes with a large train of hangers-on including her best friend Ivy, her husbands top claviger Tunstell, her annoying sister Felicity, and a French milliner/inventor named Madame Lefoux who appears to be flirting outrageously with Alexia even if we can't quite be sure whose side she's on. Alexia is learning all kinds of new things about her husband, including his past history, what made him leave his old Scottish pack, and his political beliefs... but it won't be politics that ultimately prove the most shocking reveal for this couple. Admittedly, the big reveal of the ending is rather predictable... but the response to it is certainly not and makes for some excellent drama. Thank goodness Blameless has been published already so you can immediately reach for that to see what happens next.

If you liked the first book, you're almost guaranteed to enjoy the second, if only because it provides more Alexia and Lord Maccon, though I'll note that it's not quite as delightful (as it no longer as the new and fresh feel of the first). There's also more Professor Lyall, who might be my favorite character, though Lyall has to hold down the fort while everyone else seems to skip off to Scotland. Madame Lefoux is an interesting character (though I doubt Carriger is risque enough to do anything truly fascinating with her) and I assume we'll see more of her, if only because Lady Maccon will need a somewhat more mobile female sidekick than Ivy, though I feel like Madame Lefoux keeps getting knocked out at inopportune moments. Hm. This is, however, another fun installment of the series and it's well worth the read if you got a kick out of the original.

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