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Pump Six and Other Stories
Paolo Bacigalupi

Miss Wonderful

Miss Wonderful - Loretta Chase Certainly no Lord of Scoundrels, but a cut above the average romance, I'd say. Almost more frustrating because of that, in that the things that were good were very, very good, so the things that weren't a) stuck out more and 2) made me want to bash my head in a little.

Now, I'm all for a little antagonism between the protagonists, but I *hate* when it's set up so that one must be right and one must be wrong, where it's usually the woman who's wrong, and usually because she's got some wacky "feminine notion," or something. Chase saved it in the end, sort of, with there being a third option ("railroad" instead of "canal" or "no canal," but aren't the people who have to live with the railroad going to be just as cranky as the heroine was with the canal? /digression), but essentially it read to me like the heroine's main objection to the "progress" of the canal was "it will ruin my view and change things from how it was when my mother was alive, woe and alas," without any real voice being given to any non-soppy reasons to not want the canal. (Not that there's anything wrong with soppiness, but if she's such a sharp, level-headed woman, can't she have something substantial to back up the soppiness?)

Meh. I just feel like Chase punked out a little on the 'strong, independent woman' thing with the whole canal antagonism. She did a lovely job the rest of the time balancing strength and independence with the inevitable swooniness of a romance novel, but I think she undercut herself (and her heroine) with the "but what about my scenic viiiiiiiiiiiews?" thing.