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Pump Six and Other Stories
Paolo Bacigalupi

Slightly Sinful

Slightly Sinful - Mary Balogh Oh, Mary Balogh - always with the really good stuff, be it excellent use of cliches or exploration of interesting themes within the context of historical romance, but always undermined by some really dodgy stuff.

Yes, yes, this is dress-up-doll historical romance - they've all got their teeth, the women are always surprisingly independent - but you don't get to handwave away the things you don't like (bad dental hygiene, extremely limited spheres of influence for the vast majority of women, the actual number of dukes at any given time in what is now the UK, etc.) and keep things that are in fact problematic just for humor. To wit, two thumbs up for acknowledging that women who are forced by circumstance to become prostitutes are, in fact, human, too, but two thumbs down for then perpetuating "and they were born to be servants!" thing, not to mention the fact that Our Heroine could, of course, never whore herself out like her it's-a-valid-lifestyle-choice prostitute protectors for no other reason than because Our Heroine was born a lady.

You don't get to have your cake and eat it, too. You don't get to pull an "it's okay for them; they're just born low class" and have it not completely yank me out of the romance.

Don't get me wrong, I do love me some good amnesia!fic, and I adore pretend-to-be-married stories, but this one combined them in slightly awkward ways that didn't really work for me. Our Heroine came off a little irrational and over-the-top self-centered, even when she was supposed to be this angel. We didn't know enough about Our Hero pre-head injury to be amazed at any particular change in behavior. There were some delightfully wacky set-ups and over-the-top characters that were relatively well-played, but my lingering impression from this book is just generally feeling sympathetic towards Our Heroine's much-beleagured uncle.