I’ve been trying to read Connie Brockway’s No Place For A Dame since November 1st. I think three months is enough. Why don’t I love this book? No idea. None. The setup is a science minded heroine and her non science minded man. There’s class conflict – he’s titled, she’s the daughter of an employee. Brockway is an author I generally enjoy, and yet five seconds after I’ve set it down I forget everything about it. Are those scenes from this book? Other books? What was it about again? Oh yea.. I should… is that glitter?
Avery Quinn, our heroine, is the daughter of (a gamekeeper?) someone who saved our hero’s dad’s life and has therefore been set up as a quasi ward. She’s been shipped out to various scientific homes to study astronomy under the greats. If Avery was overly worldly and possibly cynical it would make some sense. Instead Avery has emerged from her academic travels almost painfully naive. She is neither of her originating class nor of her adoptive one, and she seems to understand little of both. There’s a Manic Pixie Dream Girl happening here, actually. Avery is blasting into Giles life with her obsessions and her quirks to shine a light into his corners. I think. Remember, I didn’t finish it.
So Giles is charming, rich, titled and with daddy issues for days when Avery (decides? requires?) takes a trip to London so she can join the Royal Astronomical Society by cross dressing. (As you do.) There’s some reason Giles has to go along with it (or suggests it?) but he leaves her to get there solo to see if her disguise will hold. She is neither quickly unmasked nor entirely successful in her disguise. Rather than having the Magic Breasts For Binding that so many full figured heroines do, Avery find herself wearing a fat suit. She’s a Humpty Dumpty of a lad with spindly legs and arms and a youthful face. People find her odd, but not as odd as Giles being interested in the stars.
I think the point where I gave up was something to do with her wanting to see the gentleman’s club, which Giles balks at. She is trapped in the house and bored so she befriends another young man thereby ending up in a carriage crash outside the same gentleman’s club, which Giles then invites her into. His objections that were routed in principal are suddenly swept away by practicality. There’s a lot of this in the oddly titled No Place for A Dame, Avery cannot do things until suddenly she can. Things are wrong until they are not. Let’s all smash the patriarchy because science.
There’s some bit about spy cartels and missing agents and mortal enemies and Giles being in disguise and… surely in all of this there would be something for me to care about? One would think? Alas, there was not. No Place for A Dame should have been an Americana piece about the infiltration of local government during prohibition. Or something. Something other than pseudo ward / spy guardian it’s tough out here for a lady scientist in Romanceland romping. Anyway, everyone loves it but me. If egg slash is your thing, Avery’s got your suit. Go crazy.