Hurray for Gail Carriger, the almighty parasol, and the ongoing legacy of the Finishing School!
In the Finishing School books (which are AMAZING and which you need to read RIGHT NOW), we meet a group of school girls who are trained in the fine arts of flirtation, social niceties, and assassination (among other important skills).
The author treated us to the 2016 novella Poison or Protect, the first in what I hope will be a long continuing series (Delightfully Deadly). Poison or Protect was all about Preshea, one of the Finishing School girls who as an adult has made a career out of her deadly skills.
Now, with Defy or Defend, we get Dimity's story! Dimity was one of the quieter characters in the Finishing School books, a good and loyal friend, a fan of sparkling jewels and accessories, not entirely sure that a career in espionage was really what she was looking for.
Picking up her story several years later, Dimity is a young lady with a talent for unearthing all sorts of wonderful intelligence by way of her charm and flirting abilities. She's a star performer when it comes to undercover work, but she doesn't ordinarily deal with the supernatural set until she's assigned a special new case.
The Nottingham vampire hive is in disarray, with their queen in seclusion, their drones all departed, the remaining few vampires in grave danger of going Goth - that is, becoming overly morose and tending toward wearing disturbing amounts of black velvet. This won't do. A hive out of control is a menace, and if they can't be fixed, the Bureau for Unnatural Registry may have to send an agent to end the hive and its vampires once and for all.
Dimity is on the job, along with Sir Crispin Bontwee, a former military man who works in intelligence as safety - that would be the muscle, basically. He's assigned to protect Dimity while she does the more delicate work of infiltrating and saving the hive.
I could go on and on and tell you all the clever and adorable ways in which Dimity saves the day. (Wallpaper and bustles are involved, among other things. And lots of tea, of course.) But I won't - I'll leave you to discover the joys of this sweet, lovely story!
Defy or Defend is a completely wonderful and welcome addition to the larger world of the Parasol Protectorate. As always, the author gives up quippy dialogue, great fashion, silliness galore, and unexpected treats. (And there just might be a certain muscular man performing ballet in a tight bathing costume)
The tone is sexy with just a little steam, nothing particularly graphic but certainly some sexual content described in non-explicit terms. Which is fine - the characters are warm and likable and we just want them to be happy!
As a bonus for fans of Carriger's world, a few other familiar faces show up for fun cameos. I suppose that's one of the perks of writing about immortal supernatural beings - you can set your story in whatever decade you'd like, and still have a favorite character make an appearance!
Defy or Defend is really a fun read, and will definitely lift your spirits. Here's hoping for many, many more Delightfully Deadly books ahead!