Defy or Defend is a romantic comedy set in Gail Carriger’s paranormal, steam-punk Parasolverse and it’s as charmingly whimsical as all of her books. It’s a through-and-through feel-good read that had me smiling from start to finish. The dry humor is to die for. And it was exactly what I needed now when it seems like the whole world is going to shit.
However, I was a bit hesitant about this book at first. This is a spin-off from the Finishing School series and follows Dimity Plumleigh-Teignmott, a.k.a. Honey Bee, as a grown-up, working as a spy for the War Office. As Finishing School is a YA series, I ended up never finishing it. In addition, Dimity was not a character I particularly cared for. But I really needn’t have worried.
So, for the blurb. Dimity is assigned to infiltrate a vampire hive that is suspected of being on the brink of going Goth. For security, Sir Crispin Bontwee accompanies her, acting as her husband. And since Sir Crispin also happens to be the man Dimity is secretly enamoured of, she decides to make the most of this opportunity and seduce the unsuspecting Cris while on the mission.
Defy or Defend is utterly delightful. It doesn’t get more entertaining than this. When it comes to romance, in my opinion, angst-free often means boring. But that is not the case here. The combination of the eccentric characters, the importance of accessories and the gloriously witty and exaggerated British humor is nothing but utterly charming and hilarious.
And, as is Carriger’s trademark, the side characters are as interesting as the main ones. In Defy or Defend, I particularly liked Justice, an exceedingly melodramatic vampire with a fondness for billowing night-gowns. I really hope to see more of her in future installments of the series. Also, I was thrilled that both Lord Akeldama and Lord Maccon made small appearances in this read. I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of those two.
Another fabulous thing about this read is that it’s absolutely not meant for bigots. It’s probably one of the aspects of her world building that I like the most. Sexual preference and gender identity aren’t factors that define someone’s worth, they’re merely viewed as facets of said person. Much like hair color or a food preference. It’s bloody refreshing is what it is.
Now, if I could have changed one thing about Defy or Defend, it would be the very inconvenient time-lapses during certain shenanigans. I mean really, when Dimity and Sir Crispin finally get it on, I’d say it’s just common courtesy to provide the details. So in that sense, I got a bit of a YA feel from this book, even though it supposedly isn’t one. On the other hand, the cooked sausage analogy more than made up for the lack of explicit detail that I’m usually rather fond of.
So in conclusion, if you’re an open-minded person of the dry humor inclination, this is a must-read. You’ll love it.