Poison or Protect

A Delightfully Deadly Novella
Narrated by: Suzanne Lavington
Length: 5 hrs and 37 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (362 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Can one gentle Highland soldier woo Victorian London's most scandalous lady assassin, or will they both be destroyed in the attempt?

New York Times best-selling author Gail Carriger presents a stand-alone romance novella set in her popular steampunk universe full of manners, spies, and dainty sandwiches.

Lady Preshea Villentia, the Mourning Star, has four dead husbands and a nasty reputation. Fortunately, she looks fabulous in black. What society doesn't know is that all her husbands were marked for death by Preshea's employer. And Preshea has one final assignment.

It was supposed to be easy, a house party with minimal bloodshed. Preshea hadn't anticipated Captain Gavin Ruthven - massive, Scottish, quietly irresistible, and...working for the enemy. In a battle of wits, Preshea may risk her own heart - a terrifying prospect, as she never knew she had one.

Delicate sensibilities? Contains men pleasing women, and ladies who know what they want and ask for it, sometimes in detail. May also contain plaid, appearances from dandy vampires, and the strategic application of leather gloves.

©2016 Gail Carriger LLC (P)2017 Gail Carriger LLC

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    4 out of 5 stars
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4 "Black Widow" Stars!

Any additional comments?

4 "Black Widow" Stars for the story and narration.

I'm a fan of the romance subgenre of steampunk and had been wanting to try Gail Carriger's works for some time now. So when I got the chance to review Poison or Protect, the debut of her new series, Delightfully Deadly, I jumped at the chance.

Set in the Spring of 1867 between Ms. Carriger's previous two well known series: about 10 years after the Finishing School Series (a YA age romance) and 10 years before Parisol Protectorates Series (an adult age romance); there is an author's note that the Delightfully Deadly Series can be read or listened to as a standalone in any order. Having not previously listened to these other series, I can vouch that I had no trouble following the plot or romance.

Lady Preshea Villentia, also known as the "Mourning Star," has a deadly reputation as a wife. Trained at the famous finishing school (from the previous YA series), and leaving a trail of dead husbands in her wake, all four of her previous husbands have turned up dead lending fuel to the rumor that she is an assassin who carries forth her profession in a most personal way. Her beauty, however, is entrancing--a trait that her vampire "employer" counts on--which means that men continue to put themselves in the line of danger for a chance at being her one true love.

There is one Scottish Captain, Gavin Ruthven, however, who is not oblivious to the true nature of her charms though he too is attracted to her. Unfortunately for him it appears that Preshea's next assignment is focused on his friend--an assignment he is determined to make fail. But when Preshea's mission appears to take a less deadly turn, Gavin and Preshea end up being together long enough to feel their mutual attraction. Could there ever be a HEA between such good and evil opposites? Particularly given that Preshea has never ever been loved by anyone before, and therefore believes she lacks the ability to do so, could a HEA ever be in the cards for Preshea even for the right man?

Suzanne Lavington narrated Poison or Protect. This was my first experience with Ms. Lavington and I generally enjoyed her pleasing voice. She also did a good job with varying her pitch to provide differentiation among the characters, including by producing deep enough sounding voices to convincingly sound male, a trait which can be a difficult feat for some female narrators. Ms. Lavington also did a good job with creating accents as both British and Scottish sounding accents are necessary for this story.

There was one effect of the narration, however, which I had never heard before, and which I'm still pondering. Throughout the book there were occasional passages that were differentiated from the rest of the narration with an echo like effect. I believe these passages highlight when a character is thinking out loud (in their own head). While it definitely differentiated these thoughts, it also had the effect of bringing the listener out of the audiobook flow at times. It may just be that I had never heard this effect before though. By the end of the book it was definitely less noticeable.

All in all, Delightfully Deadly was a decent debut to a new series. I enjoyed the steampunk setting and blending of vampires with a historical romance feel. I can certainly see how the world building in this series (which is the same as Ms. Carriger's other two series could make for a fascinating storyline). The one area, however, where I felt the plot was a little more rushed was in the romance department. However, as this book was a novella length novel, this is frequently an effect of the shortened nature of this stories and therefore is somewhat to be expected.

My curiosity has definitely been piqued. My plan now is to go back to some of Ms. Carriger's backlist titles from the Finishing School or Parasol Protectorate Series to further explore this promising world.

Source: Review copy provided for review purposes.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Great first listen to both author and narrator

What made the experience of listening to Poison or Protect the most enjoyable?

This was both a good book and a good narrator to go with it. The story was interesting and kept me wanting to find out what was going to happen. The narrator has a great voice and did a fine job telling the story.

Have you listened to any of Suzanne Lavington’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No I haven't but I look forward to listening to more of her narrations.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, and I did listen to it all at one time.

Any additional comments?

I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.

3 people found this helpful

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Great Novella with a Gentleman & a Lady Assassin!

I'm not familiar with this author but I did enjoy this book. The main character is quite unique and different than anything I have previously read about. Lady Villentia is an assassin and she has an assignment to fulfill.

Captain Gavin is tasked with keeping someone safe then he encounters the dangerous Lady Villentia. He doesn't know who she is there to kill...

Narration was well done and brought the story to life.

I'm looking forward to listening to more audiobooks by this talented author.

"I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review."

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Preshea, a Young Lady of Quality

Poison or Protect by Gail Carriger gave me just what I wanted, more information on a student from the Finishing School series. A few of the character stories carry over into The Parasol Protectorate and beyond, but it is always a treat to find out what the rest of Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality have gotten up to.

Lady Preshea Villentia was a thorn in the side of the lead characters in the Finishing School series. Here she is the star, giving us a brief history of her activities since graduation up to her final assignments from an always well-dressed Vampire we all love and adore. While trying to carry out her assignments she meets Captain Gavin Ruthven. After the untimely deaths of her four husbands is she willing to try again with this intriguing Highlander?

Gail Carriger has created my favorite Steampunk world and characters and she continues to expand the universe with her new offerings. Her writing, story lines, and humor are outstanding. I was excited to receive this wonderful story in exchange for an honest review. Do be warned that this book should only be read or listened to by someone who “has achieved their majority or has a -very- progressive parent or guardian” as reviewer Kailee Bruce says. That said, the scenes are well written and do not dwell over long as to make the non-erotic reader uncomfortable.

To compliment this wonderful story is the perfectly selected narration of Suzanne Lavington. She brings just the right touch of sarcasm and heart to the characters and is magnificent in a wide range of both male and female voices.

3 people found this helpful

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Perfect as always

Where does Poison or Protect rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Perfect as always, Gail Carriger's work is always high on my list of recommendations. I love all her books, but I'd swear this one is even better than the last.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Usually I find sex scenes a bit boring after a while -- I much prefer the lead up. But Carriger managed just the right balance of poise and breathy excitement, eroticism without stepping into unnecessary details. She made a dominatrix scene touching, entertaining, sexy, and generally delightful.

Any additional comments?

BDSM in books is so often represented by some guy growling into his lover's ear as he pins her against something. There's crude language and a lot of stuff I would generally cause me to slap someone and walk away. This is different. Carriger has taken someone I regarded as the shallowest of villains and turned her into a deep, interesting badass assassin. And rather than undercutting her by giving her some secret submissive streak as so many other authors would have, she allowed our heroine to attain what she most wanted in the world -- control -- and then surprised her with what she never thought she needed -- love. Our heroine is allowed to be clever, decisive, classy, and powerful even in her most vulnerable moments. It's a rare and precious point of view. Seriously I cannot recommend this enough. The plot is superb, the writing excellent, the characters delightful, and the narration flawless.

1 person found this helpful

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short and sweet

I really love this author and all her book this did not let me down.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Brilliant

I could not stop listening, a beautiful story very well told and well paced. So glad we have Gail.

1 person found this helpful

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A wonderful adult edition to Gail Carriger's world.

As a fan of the YA books set in this world it is lovely to indulge in a more adult chapter. As always the prose and poise of the characters keep me listening and wishing for more. Well done and I look forward to more dainty sandwiches or bread with pickles in the future.

1 person found this helpful

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Wonderful as Ever

I've read, or listened​ to, every Gail Carriger book in the finishing school universe and this one it's just as thoughtful and witty as the rest. Lavington does a wonderful job narrating, making a great book just that much better. I look forward to more delightfully​ deadly novellas.

1 person found this helpful

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Loved it!

I love everything she writes but this one is an instant fave.
Only complaint is that it's over too soon. Can't wait for the next one!

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Teddy
  • 09-08-17

Disappointing

What did you like best about Poison or Protect? What did you like least?

I liked that it revisited a characters from previous books, but it just felt very flat and contrived.

Any additional comments?

Not up to the author's usual standard

1 person found this helpful

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  • Linda
  • 05-27-17

Don't judge the rest of her books by this one

I have read all bar one of Gail Carriger's books based in this 'world'. This is my least favourite; I will try in this review to be as objective as possible though. Maybe I am influenced by having enjoyed the last book so much that I was bound to be a bit disappointed with this one.

It is a very well written book with a clear storyline and brief appearances from 2 well-known characters from other books., I would describe it more as a romance book with espionage rather than the other way round. It does deal well with a sensitive issue - a woman being allowed to make her own choices in terms of intimacy and sexual activity after previous lack of choice and unpleasant experiences.

Do take note of the warning in the book synopsis. If you don't want to listen to descriptions of sexual activity then don't buy this book.

If this is your first Gail Carriger book and you think it doesn't have much depth of plot then try another before giving up on her as an author. It's not a bad book, it's just that her books usually have a more substantial storyline.

As for the reader, OK, but not exceptional - a few mis-pronunciations.

Still looking forward to another book from Gail Carriger even though I have been a bit negative about this one.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Roberta Reads
  • 09-09-20

I loved it

I loved this novella when I read it on my kindle, and I love it even more as an audiobook. I always felt a bit sorry for Preshea in the Finishing School books, so it’s lovely to see her get a happy ending - choose one in fact. A lovely novella. The narration was excellent, with good expression that brought the story and characters to life. I did find the pause every three words or so a little irritating - it suits Preshea’s character, but it’s not relaxing to listen to when it extends beyond her speech and thoughts. There were also one or two words pronounced in a way that I’ve never heard before, but perhaps that’s just how they’re pronounced in this alternative historical era.

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  • E. Butcher
  • 04-22-20

Excellent Story

This book follows on from the finishing school books. It gives you a very good insight into Preshea, who was one of the students. It helps you to understand why she is the way she is. Definitely worth a try, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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  • S Jaques
  • 04-08-20

A lovely romance, witty and warm

This is a fantastic novella, well narrated and a very enjoyable story. I’m usually a little dubious when reading or listening to novellas, as romances tend to be rushed and come off as inauthentic – not this one though! I enjoyed the antagonistic relationship between the main characters, which gradually softened but never lost my interest. The plot, though simple, was engaging and as this is a Gail Carriger book, the attention to detail with regards to the dress and etiquette of the era was top notch. Highly recommended. *NB: I received a free copy of this audiobook after winning it via a competition run by the author.

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  • LJ
  • 01-06-20

Enjoyable & cosy

It is very unusual for me to listen to an audio version before having read something in book form, so it took a bit longer for me to really get into the story than I had expected. Now after repeated listenings, I love Preshea and Gavin's story, and enjoyed the mystery element to it. I very much liked their back and forth "are we on the same side or aren't we". The story makes me want to curl up to listen with a hot drink.. and a helping or two of shortbread.

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  • Elizabeth Johnstone
  • 05-13-19

A lovely teasing story

I’m a big fan of Gail and love her work. I was initially put off by a few reviews however the narrator was lovely to listen to and I always enjoy hearing stories on previously mentioned characters from other books. It is well detailed in plot and characters though it took me a while to get used to the inner thoughts style and how it was spoken. Overall an enjoyable book with enough teasing moments to be scandalous without being overly explicit which is another fact I love about these books, though defiantly suited to slightly more mature readers.

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  • Roobarb
  • 01-19-19

Delightful

I need time to recover from that . or maybe another book . .... . . . perhaps I should just read it again ETA - made it to the next day before I read it again

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-11-18

Good book, badly read

I have listened to similar books by the author and they are great, like this one. Such a shame about the reader. She seems to pause in the middle of every sentence and there are a number of longer words that she pronounced wrong. The reader of the finishing school books was amazing and she read the lead of this book. They should have used her again. Such a shame. Found it really hard to listen to.

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  • Lukasmummy
  • 10-10-18

Another brilliant release by Gail Carriger

This series looks like another one I am really going to enjoy. I have previously read the Finishing School series and the Parasol Protectorate series, this is much shorter but the characters are still likeable and easy to be interested in.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-05-20

Absolutely loved it

A wonderful mix of charm, deadly decorum and sensuality. Lovely performance as well. Highly recommend.