Imprudence, the second outing of The Custard Protocol series by Gail Carriger, is a fun supernatural steampunk adventure with a dash of romance. I love Ms Carrger’s turns of phrase and wit as well as her plotting, and I was not disappointed by this latest novel.
We are again following Rue and her crew, this time to Egypt. Rue (short for Prudence, which is also the title of the first book) needs to transport her parents there, into the zone of effect of the God-breaker Plague before her father, a werewolf, goes mad from Alpha’s curse. Of course that isn’t the only complication. Rue’s navigator and head engineer are in a academic snit—a snit which naturally leads to fisticuffs—over who published what discovery without crediting the other. And of course there’s the attacks of unknown source on Rue’s ship. And did I forget to mention the quest to find a lost pride of werelionesses?
Imprudence doesn’t, thankfully, read like a travelogue but there’s enough description to give a sense of place to each stop on the trek. This isn’t just the old time sets we’ve seen in movies, after all, this is a steampunk world of dirigibles and supernatural creatures. I won’t try to describe the places myself, but the images Ms Carriger weaves will stick in my head for a while.
I’m not usually that interested in the romance subplots but Rue’s and Quesnel’s has an interesting twist I’ve not seen before—caveat, I don’t read pure romances so I’m not saying this hasn’t been done before, just that I’ve not personally run across it. Rue and Quesnel have an arrangement for Quesnel to give Rue “French lessons”—lessons in foreplay and sex and whatnot.
Quesnel’s reputation as a hardened flirt is what decided Rue to ask for such an arrangement though—not a spoiler at all if you’re even passingly familiar with romance conventions—Quesnel’s heart isn’t as hardened as reputation would have it, at least not where Rue is concerned. For Rue’s part, she can be a little dense about her interpersonal relationships—not uncommon in real life—so in some scenes the romance both advances and retards at the same time. As this is all done with the same witty humor as the rest of the book, it’s amusing rather than frustrating and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Oh yes, on how explicit the book does or doesn’t get—we do go into the bedroom but details are kept to a minimum and euphemisms are employed (thankfully not purple).
3—The Growing Up
This is also a coming of age story as Rue attains her majority, having turned twenty one while away in India. Rue is a legal adult now and must deal with the consequences of that, as well as the consequences of her actions in the last book and the consequences of others’s actions. I enjoyed watching Rue grow more fully into the role of Lady Captain, being conscious of her responsibilities as a leader.
I thoroughly enjoyed Imprudence and devoured the book. I got to go new places and make new friends, as well as catch up with a particular old friend from the Soulless series which are the adventures of Rue’s mother, all of which I also recommend. I can’t wait for the next book in the Custard Protocol.