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I've long had a peculiar love for Regency romances (ask me about my complete collection of Georgette Heyer). Every time I've gotten wind of a Regency featuring a romance between women, I've done my best to track it down. Some have been very enjoyable, some have been adequate, some have been disappointing. But I now have a reigning favorite in this admittedly small genre: Jeannelle M. Ferreira's The Covert Captain: Or, a Marriage of Equals.

In this second novel in de Bodard's "Dominion of the Fallen" world, that world expands much further to encompass the dragon empire under the Seine and its political complexities and entanglements with the Houses ruled by fallen angels. As before, we get a dystopia of ruthless power and magic and the precarious position of ordinary mortals whose only safety is to tie their allegiance to a stronger being.

“The Price of Meat” is a horror novelette set in a mildly alt-historical London with casual inclusion of both female and male same-sex couples while definitely not being a romance in format. The setting and characters have the feel of being spun off of an existing alternate history setting--as if we’re expected to be familiar with the two men and their backstory, and with the points of historical divergence established economically in the opening paragraph--but the author indicates otherwise.

The musical Hamilton has quite deservedly stirred up a lot of interest in the Revolutionary War era and, from a separate angle, in history as experienced through lives that don’t fit the straight white male Christian default.

My impressions of this book shifted a lot during the process or reading it. For much of the middle, I was afraid it was going to be one of those “liked but didn’t love” books, and then things really ramped up in the last couple of chapters. Ramped up almost too quickly, in fact, but the shift meant that I was left with a much stronger liking for the book than I thought I would.

I bought Barbary Station by R.E. Stearns based on the response of various advance reviewers that boiled down to “lesbian space pirates; what more could you want?” Well, evidently I want more. Barbary Station appears to be a competently written space opera involving pirates, malevolent AIs, and bionically-enhanced cyber-hacking engineers. The central protagonists are a same-sex couple in a pre-existing and utterly taken for granted relationship. But having gotten four chapters in, I have yet to find myself caring what happens to them or whether they succeed.

Spring Flowering by Farah Mendlesohn is a gentle, domestic Regency romance, more in the vein of Jane Austen with its parson’s daughters and the family dynamics of middle class families “in trade”, than in the vein of Georgette Heyer’s dashing aristocrats and gothic perils. Ann Gray’s life is disrupted by the death of her father, the village parson, and she joins the bustling household of her cousins in Birmingham where the family business manufacturing buttons, jewelry, and other small metal accessories becomes the framework of her new social life.

If Ancillary Justice was a fascinating tour in non-linear exposition, and Ancillary Sword felt like a cozy mystery set in the midst of a space opera, Ancillary Mercy struck me as an interstellar version of the folktale motif “six go through the world”. That is, a protagonist accumulates a set of unlikely and improbable allies simply due to treating those she encounters with honesty, empathy, and (if you will forgive the word) humanity, to find that those allies come through with a vengeance when the chips are down.

Somehow I failed to review this when I finished it, quite possibly because that happened in the chaos leading up to my summer travel.

This is a short piece within de Bodard’s “Dominion of the Fallen” world, falling hard on the heels of The House of Shattered Wings and I believe introducing us to a key character who will feature in The House of Binding Thorns. It goes beyond character study, giving us a tightly packaged perilous adventure (perilous from several directions) featuring not only the harsh cut-throat politics of the various Fallen houses, but the lingering hazards of the magical cataclysm that destroyed Paris--hazards that have no respect for house loyalty.

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