You will notice that I gave this four stars, but that my review still has reservations.
Plenty of people have summed up the plot, so I will not be doing that here. Besides, I'm prone to giving away spoilers, so best to avoid this altogether.
To start, the good:
Loved, loved, LOVED this book as much as the original. The character interactions were as smooth and amusing, the humor was ever-present, the pacing was good, and the story overall was delectable. I am impatient to receive the third book simply because I enjoy this series, not because of the cheap authorial trick utilized. I would recommend it highly to almost anyone who loves werewolves, vampires, Steampunk, Victorian romances, the Victorian era, or just tea and parasols.
This was a cheap and shoddy gimmick that I feel the author should be shot for. I feel it demeaned her story, her writing ability AND her readers. It was like the author, in an orgy of self-destructive tendencies, was jumping up and down screaming; "my writing sucks, and this is the only way I can get my readers to stay!!"
More thorough editing, PLEASE. I was yanked out of the text at least once by an inconsistency involving the showing of the parasol, and later with logistical questions of it's use. I was annoyed by the amazing dumbing down of Ivy (though amused at the same time--worth the ride!), and more-so by the deliberate out-of-character denseness of Alexia herself regarding a certain matter. It is my opinion that a woman of imminent sense and logical mind, one who practically raised herself on her father's journals and had frequent close contact with Lord Akeldama would NOT tend to overlook the one glaringly obvious thing she refused to understand until the end of the book. It felt contrived, like the author needed the character ignorant, but not something the character would actually have been ignorant of.
The cliffhanger ending was also, I feel, a bad move. I ended the book on such a sour note that instead of thinking back on the book in pleasure, I found myself dissecting its flaws. The flaws mentioned above were only the ones I felt though the whole story, before the cliffhanger knocked me for a loop. My list of complaints afterwords was MUCH longer. And, despite the somewhat logical nature of the break between the two books, it also felt arbitrary, as if someone had randomly picked a place, and accidentally picked a chapter into the new book.
I will finish the series and love every second of it.
I will recommend the series to all my frinds.
I do not, for an instant, regret my involvement with these books.
I still stand by that this author is a wonderful author, and the world she creates well worth every moment spent in it.
However, I can honestly say if this author ever works on another series, I will hold back on purchasing it until the entire thing is published in full, as I never want to have this trick pulled on me again. I am also feeling much less forgiving as a whole. If the upcoming book is later than six months, I probably won't buy it, and if it is shoddy, I will not be purchasing from her in the future.
This could just be me; I feel really strongly about the trickery of the ending, and the sour taste of it that lingered long after the novel was done. Again, if you are like me, don't buy this book until the new one is released. You'll be happier that way.