This third entry in the Parasol Protectorate follows Lady Maccon/Alexia Tarabotti as she leaves London to travel to Italy. She is pregnant, which is supposed to be impossible given she has only had intimate relations with a werewolf of sufficient age to no longer have active sperm and women preternaturals are supposedly unable to carry to term. However, she is a preternatural, which means her touch renders supes mortal, so all kinds of unlikely things happen around her.
Her husband has been completely unreasonable, and the attempts to kill her continue. She takes the charming cross-dressing inventor Madame Lefoux and her father's valet-of-few words with her. Their thinking is that the Templars in Italy probably know as much or more about Alexia's kind than anyone else and thus might be able to prove that Lord Maccon (a werewolf) really could be the father of Alexia's unborn infant-inconvenience. Unfortunately, it took a lot of doing to get Alexia's father _out_ of Italy, so this is not a risk-free research outing, even ignoring the ongoing efforts by the vampires to kill her and the child. Apparently the last time there was a preternatural/supernatural offspring, it had a vampire parent and the result was really, really, really scary.
The Biffy subplot promises to be _really_ interesting.
Readers who were really upset by Lord Maccon's behavior in book two may or may not be happy with the way the relationship is resolved in this entry. He spends a chunk of the book drunk off his ass on formaldehyde and his delay definitely endangers a variety of people. The Maccons get back together, and I thought the overall arc was plausible: Conall and Alexia are volatile, powerful and passionate people, so I was prepared to accept that they could both have a massive falling out and find a way to recover from it. Not everyone is going to be happy that Alexia took him back, and even those who might be may question whether the rough ride the author has put the reader through was really worth it.
I will confess to doing a certain amount of hoping that should Conall really become insufferable, Alexia will turn to Lefoux for comfort. Yum.
Many things are explained in this steampunky supernatural tale, including why the Italians so love their garlic. Vastly entertaining; I am quite looking forward to the next entry.