Romancing the Inventor, a novella by Gail Carriger, follows Imogene, a maid at a vampire hive, as she falls in love with a heartbroken lady inventor.
Heat level, open door on the sex scenes but not terribly graphic.
Note: I read this story as part of a limited-edition and out-of-print omnibus collection, Fan Service, but Romancing the Inventor is available as a stand-alone.
Everyone thinks Imogene arrogant because she won’t take a husband, but the truth is that no man appeals to her. She secretly pines for women, a thing illegal in Victorian England. So Imogene takes a job as a maid with the local vampire hive, hoping the countess might take an interest in her—supernaturals are exceptions to the law—but the countess, indeed all the vampires, ignore her.
Then one day, Imogene is sent to take lunch out to the potting shed, and she meets Genevieve Lefoux, resident inventor, and falls madly in love. Unfortunately, Madame Lefoux doesn’t seem to share Imogene’s interest—or does she?
2—Vampires, Werewolves, and Flirting Ladies
The previous inhabitants of Woolsey Castle were werewolves, and well-thought-of by the locals. But for various reasons covered in the Parasol Protectorate series, they left and the vampires came. Though the werewolves do come to visit on occasion, mainly the Alpha and his wife, Lord and Lady Maccon, and another werewolf who happens to know Imogene’s secret. Lady Maccon and Madame Lefoux have a history together, a history that leads them to flirt with each other, quite openly, to Imogene’s jealousy. Though Lady Maccon turns out to be an ally for Imogene in trying to win Genevieve’s heart.
Not all runs smoothly, of course. Henry, a footman, has come to hate Imogene for taking his place bringing Madame Lefoux her lunch. Then Imogene discovers Henry is conducting industrial espionage, but no on believes her when she tries to tell—no one but Madame Lefoux. Unfortunately, this all brings Imogene to the attention of the Countess, attention Imogene no longer wants—and one does not lightly refuse a vampire queen.
I lovedlovedloved Romancing the Inventor. There were so many ups and downs in such a short reading, but the story never felt rushed. It was fun and heartwarming—and occasionally frustrating, but in a good way—to watch Imogene and Genevieve fall in love, Genevieve trying so hard not to give in for fear of breaking her heart again, and Imogene trying to learn to flirt. But it all makes for a good ride with a satisfying ending. Highly recommended, even if you haven’t read anything else in the Parasolverse.