Knockout is the third in the Hell’s Belles books, a historical romance series about a group of (mostly) aristocratic women who don’t hold much power in official circles, but unofficially are doing things like helping women escape abusive situations, obtain abortions, and organize against unfair labor practices. Of course this has also made them a target, which comes to a head in this book, as the Belles figure out who is blowing up their clandestine establishments. Seems outlandish? MacLean said in the epilogue that they’re based on a real group!

Our hero is Imogen Loveless, an explosions expert; our hero, Thomas Peck, a detective who is hired by her brother to “protect” her until she finally finds a husband. Can you guess who that husband ends up being? Of course you can! It’s a romance after all!

And it was…here it is again…aggressively fine. MacLean’s writing is a bit spicier than I usually read, but I still keep up with her books because they’re fun, and I always learn something. This one ends with a tease as to the next book, which is about a woman usually referred to as just “Duchess,” the Belle I’ve been most curious about this whole time, as it seems whoever is her coordinating Duke has finally arrived on the scene (my guess is that her much much older husband died, and this is his heir to the title). I also picked up and put down three different books before I settled on this one. Such is the grieving brain. It doesn’t always know what it wants. And at this point, it wanted a historical romance.

I recently saw a tweet saying that literary people don’t read romance. I know I’ve written about this before, but what (sexist) nonsense. I have a BA and MA in English literature, spent a semester of college at Oxford studying Shakespeare, and write book reviews for the New York Times. I always have a book on hand. Sometimes they’re serious, sometimes they’re fun, and sometimes they’re romances that teaches me about all women’s Victorian-era crime ring. Don’t let anyone tell you what is the right or wrong thing to read. Just read!

Nail polish: Claydreaming by OPI.

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.

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