Not a good read.
Why. Because it features quite a nasty human experimentation sub-plot which adds an unexpected and unwelcome gore/horror element. Because it introduces stuff which turn out to be completely irrelevant. Like the parasol. And the octopus device. Because the heroine, Alexia spends a lot of time complaining about the dark color of her skin. But that is also an irrelevancy. Endless pages are spent describing the interior decorations of each house Alexia visits. Totally irrelevant. Giving many characters silly names doesn't constitute wit either.
And not least because it is set in a kind of alternative reality in Victorian times where everything but the kitchen sink, including the presence of Queen Victoria herself, is thrown into the plot. Lots of things made no sense. How could all those vampires and werewolves be captured so easily by the scientists? I couldn't detect anything alpha about Maccon. Often he read as little more than a buffoon. Just why did Alexia stay with a family who denied her a coming-out season because of her color?
Unfortunately the romance is weak. By the third book in the series the heroine has left her husband. But actually the heroine herself is a passive pain. She's one of those (inexplicably popular recently) hero types who relies on people around her to save her and get hurt. She does very little herself. Other than 'be special.' And be hypercritical of herself and most of the other females in the story. I kept waiting for Alexia to 'solve the mystery.' But it's the minor characters who do all that. Completely off-book. Instead the reader is forced to read page after page of out-dated pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo.Also. For some reason I've developed an instinctive dislike of happy-clappy servants who just love their masters. There's a whole gaggle of them in this book.
The novel is 'steam-punk' and so so clever it's up its own end. Waste of time really.