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Pump Six and Other Stories
Paolo Bacigalupi

The Spymaster's Lady

The Spymaster's Lady - Joanna Bourne While the hero eventually recovers from his first ninety or so pages of Angry Boner ManTM the Smart Bitches ("Heroine give me boner! Boner make me angry! Angry man do stupid things because angry!"), he was still, you know, an Angry Boner Man. A star was lost for me right there.

However, what this book does marevelously well is how it handles the inevitable conflict of spy vs. spy. In order for them to have a happily-ever-after, someone has to be wrong 99% of the time. Someone is working for the "wrong" government or deluded or whatever, and in 99% of that 99%, I'd say the "wrong" one is most often the woman. Angry Reader Lady!

Here, though, Bourne manages to resolve this conflict in a way that allows her heroine to retain her agency and her integrity, even as the heroine works for, ohmigodthehorror, France. (Obviously bad.) The heroine solves her own problems and is largely responsible for engineering her own happily-ever-after. I appreciate that so much I can't even say.

I also appreciate that Bourne walked the fine line of hero-and-heroine-finally-falling-in-love-and-heh-doin'-it combined with hero-holding-heroine-prisoner very well. While the hero may forget that the heroine is essentially his captive (because he can't be all that wrong! he works for the *right* side! England forever! it's all in her best interests, the little lady!), the heroine (and Bourne) never do, and Bourne never lets that be not creepy. Because it is.

Very skillfully done overall, even if I did want to punch the hero for big chunks of the book.