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Hey, that's a (mostly) contemporary romance novel I don't hate. I tend to read romances set in the past much more frequently, on the grounds that the attitudes towards gender that often turn up are moderately less annoying when set in a time period in which they would actually have been prevalent. Of course, then I wind up swearing at the anachronisms, but-- look, the times I tried contemporary romances (mostly as a teenager) I wound up violently annoyed at the sexism and swearing at the anachronisms, which is less pleasant when you're sitting there going 'dude, this claims to be set now and I know what now looks like and you missed'.

This not only feels as though it was set when it came out (2000), it also has a strong enough sense of place that I waited the entire book for the secondary couple to announce that they were going to go live somewhere in Camberville with six housemates, five cats, and about fifty-three computers, and then they went and did that, in so many words, and it was existentially correct.

I liked that thread so much I'm going to tell you about it instead of the primary one, honestly. The guy is a struggling young indie comics artist who wants to draw something that's pretty much a cross between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and X-Men, and he's picked the girl as the person he'd like to use as his principal photographic reference for the heroine. He's so consumed with trying not to be skeevy about it that he fails to notice that anyone who looks at him for five seconds can tell that he is too wrapped up in his comic book to be skeevy about anything. She is very sarcastic to him. It's pretty adorable. I am a sucker for geek-types in love. Especially since he's mixed-race and one does not see that in romance much. The entire cast here is pretty chromatic, actually.

There's also a thread set during World War II (this makes sense in context) which I enjoyed, as it was clearly intended by both God and Suzanne Brockmann as a black and white movie starring Alida Valli and involving romantic angst, people blowing up trains, and the Alida Valli character being the most competent and yet most quietly traumatized person for about two hundred miles in any direction, you know, like she does all over The Third Man.

Also there was a primary plot. I think it involved terrorists or something. I wasn't really paying attention, except to play the 'tag the people who will turn up as protagonists of future books in this series' game.

Seriously, though, this was pretty good, did not make me want to throw things, had more threads than most romances, had more depth than some, and also, that secondary romance, I swear those are the kind of people I used to meet all the damn time at the sort of party where you're not quite sure whose house you're in but somebody brought anime. So I'll probably read some more of the series-- at least enough to find out how I scored in the game.


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March 2017

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