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Paolo Bacigalupi

A Gentleman Undone

A Gentleman Undone - Cecilia Grant

Cecilia Grant is a delight. Her books have all the delicious trappings of romance novels, but there is something decidedly unromantic about them, which only makes me love them more. She manages to hit most of the beats you expect from a fairly classic romance novel plot - hero needs money to help him escape his ghosts form the war; heroine is a Fallen Lady who needs money to set herself up apart from her lover; together they fight crime! gamble! - but she subverts the emotional impact or twists the consequences of those beats almost every single time.

You actually believe the heroine is a math whiz, because it's shown onscreen. Speaking of - not only does the Fallen Lady heroine have sex with her client, she does so onscreen and to her own enjoyment. I also appreciate that this is the second novel in which Grant includes a scene (or in the case of A Lady Awakened many scenes) where the hero and heroine have deeply, deeply unsexy sex that moves the plot/their character arcs along. That sex is not a one size fits all thing.

I also very much enjoy how she does the romance novel thing of making everything work out in the end and gets to that same happy ending you'd expect in a more traditional romance, but there are always consequences and often sacrifices--meaningful ones--to the choices the hero and heroine make in order to be together. All in all, a delight. Still a confection, but a salted caramel instead of saltwater taffy. I enjoy them both but for very different reasons.