Review-No Place for a Dame (Spoilers)



After three days, I’ve finished, “No Place for a Dame,” by Connie Brockway. As far as a period romance, this is a very solid choice. There are no glaring issues with characters or plot development, and the only major writing criticism I have with the decision to use Astrological instead of Astronomical, even though the book jacket calls the same society Astronomical, and the issue with using “then” when it should have been “than.”

The novel starts similarly to a cold open in a mystery television show. We aren’t immediately introduced to the presumed main character, and when she finally is introduced, it’s in a new and surprising way-something that I appreciate. For about two-thirds of the novel, we follow Avery and Giles in their attempts at gaining Avery recognition by the Astrological/Astronomical society for discovering a comet. It was nice to see a woman working to gain access to a science field, and she accomplishes what she sets out to do, even if she does have to pretend to be a man. Avery is a strong female character, who discovers that she can take control of her own sexuality, all while doing whatever is necessary (pretending to be a man) to get the recognition she deserves in her career. She’s witty, funny, and doesn’t take insults from anyone. I thoroughly enjoyed how her character was written.

Giles, on the other hand, seemed nearly stereotypical. The brooding handsome man, tortured by his past a spy for the crown, parading as a dandy to gain the confidence of the elite, but really an honorable man. His most redeeming qualities are his shortcomings, though. What makes him seem even a tad bit believable is that he does have a temper and has acted on it, showing he is not quite perfect, something I feel tends to be lacking in this genre.

What bugged me most about this story in terms of plot was the side story arc about the missing Seward and his wife. It’s briefly mentioned that Giles had a thing for Seward’s wife, so it seems like that’s why we’re supposed to care. In the beginning, the book makes a big deal about their disappearance and Giles involvement in trying to find the pair, but this arc quickly dissolves and only resurfaces to become the source of conflict in the final few chapters. On the occasions when Giles sneaks out to do detective work, it only adds doubt for Avery of what he’s up to, and it becomes a seriously letdown when the arc and conflict fizzle in the last chapter and we never actually find out where they went, and I don’t tend to believe the character that says they’re both alright. In the end, it seemed like the whole story line was pointless.

Speaking of the last chapters, one aspect that I liked was that I wasn’t expecting Sophia to return to play a role. I like that she ended up being smarter than initially portrayed, and I rightfully didn’t like her as a person. I don’t like that we aren’t told what happens after she discovers Avery and Giles are together (though she thinks Avery is a man). We know that she tells Vedder and Jameson, but I wish we could have seen that conversation. But the consequences of that blackmail and the following actions by Giles and those in on the plan are quite far-fetched. I like that Avery finally gets to live again as a woman, and is recognized for her intelligence even then, but they do it as a lie rather than just coming clean. I get that this isn’t the traditional way stories tie up lose ends (no redemption by telling the truth), so that may have been the purpose. I almost wish it was drug out a bit longer and that we weren’t completely in on the plan from the minute it was hatched. Rather than having a section that acted like a gossip hotline to relay the plan and how it worked, it would have been interesting to see how it all developed. It seemed incredibly rushed. While I think it was a decent plan to use in the story, it would have been intriguing as a reader to be left a little in the dark.

About the love story-the romance genre has a stereotype of being incredibly sappy and laden with sex. That is not the case for this book. While the sexual tension is a slow build throughout the book, it’s not initially a main motivating factor for the two characters. The chemistry is there for the whole story, but it isn’t unbearable or really in the forefront until later in the novel. I appreciate that there was actually a story to tell, and not just transition passages from one sex scene to another.

In the end, I would read another book by Connie Brockway. I would recommend this is a quick and entertaining easy read.

Now it’s time to pick the next novel. Stay tuned.


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