A vampire hive descending into madness. A beautiful spy with a sparkly plan. The bodyguard who must keep them from killing each other.
New York Times bestselling romantic comedy author Gail Carriger brings you a charming story of love, espionage, and Gothic makeovers set in her popular Parasolverse.
Dimity Plumleigh-Teignmott, code name Honey Bee, is the War Office's best and most decorative fixer. She's sweet and chipper, but oddly stealthy, and surprisingly effective given the right incentives.
Sir Crispin Bontwee was knighted for his military service, but instead of retiring, he secretly went to work for the War Office. Mostly he enjoys his job, except when he must safeguard the Honey Bee.
Neither one is a vampire expert, but when the Nottingham Hive goes badly Goth, only Dimity can stop their darkness from turning bloody. And only Crispin can stop an enthusiastic Dimity from death by vampire.
In a battle for survival (and wallpaper), Dimity must learn that not all that sparkles is good, while Cris discovers he likes honey a lot more than he thought.
"This intoxicatingly witty parody will appeal to a wide cross-section of romance, fantasy and steampunk fans." ~ Publishers Weekly, starred review (Soulless)
Spinning off from the Finishing School series, featuring deadly ladies of quality, this story stands alone, but chronologically follows Poison or Protect before the start of the Parasol Protectorate Series. It's Cold Comfort Farm meets Queer Eye meets What We Do In The Shadows from the hilarious author of the Parasol Protectorate books, perfect for fans of Julia Quinn, Jodi Taylor, or Meljean Brook.
Contains fraternizing vampires and one very curious young lady, who asks about seduction, sometimes in detail but mostly in retrospect. May also involve excessive use of velvet, melodramatic poetry, and the strategic application of interpretive ballet.
Gail Carriger writes comedies of manners mixed with paranormal romance (and the sexy San Andreas Shifter series as G L Carriger). Her books include the Parasol Protectorate and the Finishing School series. She is published in many languages and has over a dozen NYT bestsellers. She was once an archaeologist and is fond of shoes, octopuses, and tea. Join the Chirrup for sneak peaks of upcoming giggles: http://gailcarriger.com/chirrup
These books are pure entertainment and are perfect for lightening your mood when things get a bit heavy. Defy or Defend features another ex pupil from the Finishing School series.
This time it is Dimity with a starring role. She is a spy who never really wanted to be one, but she is terribly good at what she does. Lord Crispin, Cris, is the man who is sent with her on her mission to keep her safe. A highlight of the book is watching them fall for each other.
The two are sent to sort out a hive in Nottingham, where the vampire Queen has gone into seclusion leaving the place to fall apart. Dimity is in seventh heaven, fixing up the house as well as redirecting all the inhabitants onto a better path. Lords Akeldama and Maccon play tiny roles too which is nice.
All of this written in Gail Carriger's own particular style and with her wonderful sense of humour. Just plain fun!
This is such a frothy and delicious concoction of a book! It's Cold Comfort Farm with vampires and werewolves, along with the sweetest of all Finishing School graduates sorting them all out into their proper order with the help of a hopelessly besotted fellow spy. It was so much fun to read throughout, and I'm SO glad I did. The perfect comfort/escape read! "Delightful" is exactly the word for it. :)
(Quick note: there is just one content warning I think I ought to mention. There is a lovely subplot in this book about someone figuring out their true gender identity, and it's handled beautifully - but the reason why one particular character handles it so well is because of a REALLY traumatic event in their own family's past, involving transphobia and suicide. It was a genuinely awful moment to read about in an otherwise completely light and fluffy story. The overwhelming message is still very positive - and the trans character in this story has a wonderfully happy arc full of love and acceptance - but it's a CW that felt important to mention just in case.)
Hurray for Gail Carriger, the almighty parasol, and the ongoing legacy of the Finishing School!
In the Finishing School books (which are AMAZING and which you need to read RIGHT NOW), we meet a group of school girls who are trained in the fine arts of flirtation, social niceties, and assassination (among other important skills).
The author treated us to the 2016 novella Poison or Protect, the first in what I hope will be a long continuing series (Delightfully Deadly). Poison or Protect was all about Preshea, one of the Finishing School girls who as an adult has made a career out of her deadly skills.
Now, with Defy or Defend, we get Dimity’s story! Dimity was one of the quieter characters in the Finishing School books, a good and loyal friend, a fan of sparkling jewels and accessories, not entirely sure that a career in espionage was really what she was looking for.
Picking up her story several years later, Dimity is a young lady with a talent for unearthing all sorts of wonderful intelligence by way of her charm and flirting abilities. She’s a star performer when it comes to undercover work, but she doesn’t ordinarily deal with the supernatural set until she’s assigned a special new case.
The Nottingham vampire hive is in disarray, with their queen in seclusion, their drones all departed, the remaining few vampires in grave danger of going Goth — that is, becoming overly morose and tending toward wearing disturbing amounts of black velvet. This won’t do. A hive out of control is a menace, and if they can’t be fixed, the Bureau for Unnatural Registry may have to send an agent to end the hive and its vampires once and for all.
Dimity is on the job, along with Sir Crispin Bontwee, a former military man who works in intelligence as safety — that would be the muscle, basically. He’s assigned to protect Dimity while she does the more delicate work of infiltrating and saving the hive.
I could go on and on and tell you all the clever and adorable ways in which Dimity saves the day. (Wallpaper and bustles are involved, among other things. And lots of tea, of course.) But I won’t — I’ll leave you to discover the joys of this sweet, lovely story!
Defy or Defend is a completely wonderful and welcome addition to the larger world of the Parasol Protectorate. As always, the author gives up quippy dialogue, great fashion, silliness galore, and unexpected treats. (And there just might be a certain muscular man performing ballet in a tight bathing costume…)
The tone is sexy with just a little steam, nothing particularly graphic but certainly some sexual content described in non-explicit terms. Which is fine — the characters are warm and likable and we just want them to be happy!
As a bonus for fans of Carriger’s world, a few other familiar faces show up for fun cameos. I suppose that’s one of the perks of writing about immortal supernatural beings — you can set your story in whatever decade you’d like, and still have a favorite character make an appearance!
Defy or Defend is really a fun read, and will definitely lift your spirits. Here’s hoping for many, many more Delightfully Deadly books ahead!
It sparkled! New characters and old friends. Dimity was her charming self. Ending and Epilogue gave me all the feels. My May Fictional Hangover Book Club Challenge - Shaken not Stirred: New Take on an Old Story. I've never read Cold Comfort Farm, must remedy that. 💚💚💚💚💚 - First Impressions
On 2nd reading - A sign of Brilliant Writing - you turn right around, reread, and love it even though you just read and know what happens.
Also" As Justice would have it, we should all be so lucky as to go wafting about dramatically in a trailing nightgown on occasion."
This book was such a delight. Watching Dimity at work, cheerfully setting the [un]dead to rights and bringing, er, life back to dark and dangerous places kept the pages turning--especially with a worse kind of death overshadowing all. The romance between Dimity and her knight was charming, the secondary characters well drawn and engaging. Only Miss Gail can make redecorating Delightfully Deadly!
Trigger warnings: manipulation?? Mentions of blood, death of a sibling (in the past), mentions of suicide (in the past).
This was utterly delightful from start to finish. Dimity was always a fantastic character in the Finishing School series, so it's great to see her as an adult and an intelligencer yet still the same in so many ways.
This had so many things I loved: - Mutual pining - Fake married - There's only one bed oh no - Vampire makeovers - Puppy! - Male ballet dancer who's also a posh gentleman - Trans vampire - Lord Maccon shows up - Mentions of Sophronia and Soap, my precious cinnamon rolls
Basically? This was fantastic and just a really really fun read.
This was only mildly decent at best. I’m giving it as high a rating as I did because I love Dimity, but this was just a colossally overblown, and far too long for the story, piece of writing. It isn’t nearly as interesting or even as well-written as Preshea’s novella.
Dimity is being sent to solve the problem of a vampire hive whose queen has sequestered herself off from her hive. The hive itself is supposed to be in chaos, and Dimity, attended by her ‘safety’ (read:bodyguard) Crispin, are ordered to fix it before the hive has to be put down. Such a great premise, and a way for Dimity to use her remarkable talent for organizing and problem solving, a way for her to be in the spotlight.
Unfortunately this story was bland and boring. Ms. Carriger seems to not care at all about actually plotting stories anymore. The Parasol Protectorate and Finishing School series were excellent. Preshea’s novella was excellent. Her other novellas were all really enjoyable. And then we get the Custard Protocol series, an indifferent meet-cute short story for Conall and Alexia, and this. And they’re all abysmally bad, and even worse, boring.
For some reason, Gail has decided to focus all her efforts on ramming her gender politics down our throats, instead of writing good, well-plotted, well-developed characters and stories. Her latest works could just as easily be called “Politics with Gail,” as all she seems to care about is coming up with as many different types of LGBTQ+ characters as possible, while giving them NOTHING TO DO but be whichever one they are. There’s no depth, and there’s no personality. Just a gender identity. And I’m tired of it.
There was no point to this story. Dimity is enchanting, and Crispin is serviceable as a love interest, but we don’t know enough about him to make us care (except for his opinion on women’s consent and gender politics). At this point, she’s not holding true in the slightest to the time period she’s writing about. There is no depth to this plot, and there’s no suspense. The actual reveal of what’s going on behind the vampire queen’s separation from her hive is insipid to a ridiculous degree. I literally read it and said “you’ve GOT to be kidding me.” It was terrible. The writing was terrible, and it’s getting 2 stars only because Dimity was at least somewhat like she should be. I need Gail Carriger to start actually writing again, and caring about the stories again, as opposed to just using her work as a medium for politics, and treatises on tea.
Wondrous brain candy! Light and fluffy enough for ... not a beach getaway exactly...an evening on a lake. Yes. For Finishing School fans, this is an peak at Dimity Plumleigh-Teignmott with a guest appearance by Pullover. We also get cameos from Lords Akeldama and Lord Maccon (different scenes). Not sure what I can write that would do this justice, but I have been convinced to try Cold Comfort Farm (which until this book I did not realize was first a book before the film).
If there is one author that I have always had good luck reading—-it’s Gail Carriger. I discovered her Parasol Protectorate series years ago and fell head over heels in love with it.
Since then I have read may of her other spin off novels and series most set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate series. I adore her spunky and sassy characters that make up her world but I also love that many of her characters are LGBTQ, while others are not.
She isn’t afraid to write bold characters and doesn’t conform to traditional gender roles in her novels which I love. I also know that whenever I pick up one of her books, I am always going to be in for a treat!
Carriger’s greatest asset is her humor. This book is the perfect blend of rom-com and the supernatural. It had something for everyone to love whether you are a fan of historical fiction, romance, the supernatural or steampunk. There are a lot of fun elements to this book as well as the series and world overall.
This particular book had a lot more steam that I anticipated and it wasn’t from the steampunk in this book—it was from the main characters themselves, Dimity and Crispin. It was clear they had a mutual attraction and I loved watching them come together. It had heat and believability but then you add in the humor and you have such a delightful romance that it was so hard to put down.
Fans of the Parasol Protectorate world, especially the Finishing School series, will be familiar with many of the characters and dynamics of the story but if you haven’t read any of the other books set in this world have no fear! This book could easily be read as a standalone, the author does a nice job orientating readers in the world and with the characters. Naturally you will get more out of the book if you are familiar with the world and the characters from previous books, but it’s not a requirement and you will easily fall in love with the characters without having to go back and read the whole series etc.
Carriger’s books are always well written, funny, and a wonderful escape. They are truly the kind of books I can jump into and get lost for a few hours. I am always sad to put a bookmark in because I don’t want to leave the characters or the world. This is just what I needed to read right now during this unsure time. Romance, humor, and vampires—you just can’t go wrong with that combo!
THIS BOOK MADE ME FEEL SO GOOD. I’ve always loved Dimity even as a kid reading the finishing school series so I’m so so glad she got a book of her own. I’ve been loving these side stories so far, THANK YOU GAIL ❤️
This book is a goddamn delight and exactly what I needed in this time of COVID-19 hell. So good I read it twice, because it made me happy. Fluffy, witty, and funny, Defy or Defend transported to Nottingham for a delightful romp around a moody vampire hive with Dimity and Cris. There are a few old faces for those familiar with the Parasolverse, but nothing non-series readers wouldn't understand. There are plenty of new characters, too, which worm their way into your hearts. I already have a new favorite. :)
If you're new to Gail Carriger's work but are intimidated by the expansive world and multiple series, this is a great novella to dip your toes into the world building, writing style, and humor type to see if Carriger's books are right for you!
Dimity's story!!! This is absolutely delightful. If you're a fan of Ms. Carriger's Finishing School series this is not to be missed. And if you haven't read the Finishing School series, start with Etiquette and Espionage (book #1), read the rest of the series, and then read this. This is an A for me, so five stars here.
Audio relisten 05/14/22: This was so much fun, and the audio was perfect.
Series Info/Source: This is the second book in the Delightfully Deadly series. I bought this for Kindle.
Story (4/5): Dimity, code name Honey Bee, has been assigned to enter a vampire Hive that is going goth. She must fix this horrible situation or a Sundowner will be assigned to eliminate the Hive. Sir Crispin has been assigned as her safety, a position he both hates and loves. This is a fun steampunk romp with a lot of humor and some light-hearted romance. This book was not as steamy as the previous book in the series.
Characters (4/5): Dimity is a fun character, she is all sparkle and design while also being very effective at her job. It was fun to read about a War Office spy who knows she actually wants a family in the future. Sir Crispin was well done too. I also thoroughly enjoyed the overly dramatic vampires of the Nottingham Hive.
Setting (4/5): The majority of this book is set in a dilapidated castle that the Nottingham Hive lives in. It was a well done setting and I enjoyed watching it transform under Dimity’s cheerful touch.
Writing Style (4/5): I always enjoy a good Carriger book. I love the practical writing style full of humor and continue to love the Parasolverse as well. Carriger is easy to read and fun and entertaining.
My Summary (4/5): Overall this was a fun addition to the Parasolverse. I enjoyed the characters and the story, this was great fun to read and full of humor. I would recommend it to Carriger fans and fans of romantic steampunk comedies. I definitely plan on continuing the Delightfully Deadly series.
This was such a fun quick read with so many interesting ideas and good handling of insecurities and power dynamics in relationships. Also, even though is the second companion novel to the Finishing School series this can be read as stand alone without spoiling anything in the series or any other series of hers.
A charming spinoff from her (YA) Finishing School series. This one features Dimity, Sophronia's best friend. Loved the premise and the sweet relationship she has with her protector. He was a true gentleman in behavior and demeanor. I know I can count on a satisfying read when I pick up one of Ms Carriger's books.
So if we take my review of the first one and flip flop it we would basically have my review for this one. If only we could have put the two books together, then it would have been a solid 4 to 5 star read.
What I liked about this one: the plot. The story was fun, I really enjoyed Dimity as a main character and I had a lot of fun reading about her. Chris was ok, didn’t love him but I liked him. The story really carried this one, it was funny, it was flamboyant, all the things I expect from Carriger.
But honestly, the romance was seriously lacking. There was so much potential for a great story, Dimity and Chris pretending to be married, sharing a room... so much could have happened but it was all glossed over.
Not a terrible read but I’m not sure if I would be interested in continuing this series any further.
more romance. this time i knew that that was all i'd get, so i was better prepared. and, this time i got more! a new, different, vampire hive. one that made no sense, i know, but still.
dimity is more fun, although also not too believable... i mean, is she a genius or a dimwit? how can she be both? doesn't that make her, well, just, normal?
these are toooooooo perfectly rounded up, these Delightfully Deadly books. too YA, in that sense, but less YA because they are so sex-and-romance focused, and the characters are far from being YA. they're squarely A, so, what is this disconnect? Gail, what?!
I adored Dimity in the Finishing School series and here we see her, all grown up and plying her intelligencer skills! It is a delight to see her busily redecorating a rundown hive house and managing all the vampires within with consummate ease. And I love that in the epilogue, we discover how Dimity finally overcomes her fainting over the sight of blood. A perfectly lovely book; one I know I shall reread repeatedly!
The second novella is the Delightfully Deadly series follows Dimity Plumleigh-Teignmott as she is activated by the War Office to look into the Nottingham Hive and attempt to prevent them from going Goth. The War Office is also sending Sir Crispin Bontwee as her safety, to protect and extract Dimity, codename Honey Bee, if the hive cannot be saved. While that would be dangerous enough, both Dimity and Crispin cannot deny that the biggest danger to both of them is getting their hearts broken by the other, though neither wants to admit it. However, with Dimity’s unending optimism and Crispin’s refusal to fail, neither problem stands a chance against the Honey Bee and her knight.
I have to say that I was extremely excited to see a novella completely focused on Dimity as she was one of my favorite secondary characters from The Finishing School series. While she was underestimated by Sophronia, to begin with, it became evident that she was a very skilled intelligencer with just a different skill set than her best friend. They always complimented each other beautifully, but it is nice to see that Dimity has been very successful on her own and while she is not an assassin or a physical powerhouse, she is able to complete missions with unwavering kindness, optimism, and chattering, though she will set boundaries forcefully if the situation calls for it. Too many times “strong female characters” are stripped of these traits because they are seen as a weakness, but Carriger makes them a strength, which I very much enjoy. Also, I was happy to see Pillover make an appearance and that he is still delightfully mopey.
The character of Justice was an absolute delight and I’m happy to see that the topic of sexuality and gender identity were not shied away from nor turned into some dramatic tragedy. Justice is a trans woman and as soon as she is permitted to be who she wishes to be, the proper clothes are obtained and she is able to court her love, who is just as delighted with Justice as he was before she was able to express herself. I think it was expertly handled and made me very warm and fuzzy for all the right reasons. All the vampires of the Nottingham Hive were delightfully ridiculous, but if one is going to live forever and your Queen has gone underground, one is allowed a few eccentricities.
Speaking of romance, I am a huge fan of mutual pinning when it is done correctly, which I feel that Carriger does in this novel. While constant miscommunication can take mutual pinning into very annoying territory quickly, in this novel we have a man attempting to figure out the intentions of a woman trained to seduce and deceive and a woman who is attempting to figure out a man who refuses to be anything other than a gentleman because he father was an absolute rake and all-around horrid human being. It’s not miscommunication so much as fear of rejection and being exactly what you fear you will become, which is very understandable and makes you feel for the characters. Also, who doesn’t love a good fake marriage trope, am I right?
Unlike Poison or Protect, the plot and mission are not lost in the tread of the romance, which I was very pleased about. While Crispin and Dimity are figuring out their arrangement and feelings, they are also still working to bring the Nottingham Hive back into working order and there is the constant ticking clock of a sundowner showing up to eliminate the hive altogether. When Lord Maccon arrives, it is obvious that while Crispin and Dimity are having a lovely time, they still have a mission to complete and they are still surrounded by supernatural creatures that could hurt them if they wanted. There is a satisfying conclusion to their mission and a happily ever after that is desperately needed these days.
This was a very delightful novel about love, redecorating, and the importance of relationships and fashion. It is a good balance of romance and solving the mystery of the Nottingham Hive going goth. It wasn't very serious, but not everything needs to be morose and serious, especially given how the world is these days. I am excited to move onto the Parasol Protectorate series and see how London is progressing after the events of The Finishing School series, though I think there are few short stories before Soulless.
Sometimes you read a book at EXACTLY the right moment, and that was 100% the case with Gail Carriger’s Defy or Defend. This short novel is the second installment in her Delightfully Deadly series, which is set in the paranormal/Victorian steampunk world of Carriger’s Parasolverse works and follows the characters from the YA Finishing School series as adults. During this time of real world uncertainty, Defy or Defend was a most welcome escape and an absolute joy to read.
In Defy or Defend, we catch up with Dimity Plumleigh-Teignmott, best friend to Finishing School protagonist Sophronia Temminnick. Despite being a stellar spy (code name: Honey Bee) for the War Office, Dimity finds herself contemplating leaving life as an intelligencer behind and settling down. She would love nothing more than to win the heart of Sir Crispin Bontwee, her security on some past missions, but he seems immune to her formidable charms. What Dimity doesn’t know is that Sir Crispin does in fact have a soft spot for the Honey Bee. When the pair must work together again, masquerading as a married couple no less, they’re given the perfect opportunity to make their feelings for each other known. There is, however, the not insignificant matter of their mission: to discover what has driven the Nottingham vampire hive to go Goth and to set things to right before BUR, the authority that oversees paranormal affairs, steps in and takes drastic action.
In addition to a very sweet romance, Defy or Defend features Goth vampires who are quite in the throes of gloom, the entire makeover of a vampire abode, overwrought poetry, and ballet. If all of that weren’t enough, there may be a familiar name or two from the Parasolverse. I love how existing characters are incorporated—there’s just enough of an appearance to thrill readers already familiar with the Parasolverse without making newcomers to the world feel that they need to have read previous books. If anything, I think that these cameos spark curiosity about the characters and entice new readers to pick up the other books.
As much as I rooted for Dimity and Cris, who are an adorable couple, to sort out the situation between them, I also rooted for the Nottingham hive to find some cheer (which mostly takes the form of Dimity). Dimity is truly a makeover maven with irresistible magic and every bit suited to Cris’s nickname for her, Sparkles. But I also love how Sparkles has her other, lethal side that honed her proficiency in all matter of deadly arts at finishing school.
Defy or Defend was perfect from beginning to end: the romance, the mission to save the hive, the friends from other Parasolverse stories, and as always with Gail Carriger’s books, the humor! This book and its wonderful heroine and her gallant tuppenny knight are just what I needed in my life right now.