Okay, so I have thoughts. A lot. Bear with me on this one.
Dr. Charlie Eason is a mathematical genius. She is a leader of computer science in the 1960’s. She has decided that she wants her work to be worthwhile, beyond just making companies richer or whiling away in academia. She is hired by fake NASA (ASD) by Eugene Parsons, the head of engineering. Parsons got to be the head of engineering by demanding only the best from everyone, including himself. Competent is the highest praise he can give. And Charlie is more than competent.
As I’ve explained many times, I’m a sucker for lady scientist books being one myself. Especially ones that discuss the difficulty that occurs in trying to survive in such a male dominated environment. And Barry and Turner tackle it admirably. The women scientists/engineers of the 1960’s were our grandmothers paving the way for us now. I believe Ms. (Dr.) Turner is a lady scientist. She’s speaking from experience. And they’ve done their research. They explain in the acknowledgements the historical figures they pulled from to create Charlie.
There’s one major problem though. I read Courtney Milan, also a (former-ish) lady scientist. And Milan, oh Milan, she is the master. She writes not just some of the best romance novels around, they’re just some of the best novels. Milan is subtle and careful with her characters. The Countess Conspiracy is devastating in the way she tackles the idea of a woman ahead of her time in the field of science. And when she goes brash and bold confronting stereotypes still today (Hold Me) she still presents the arguments with nuance and grace.
And Ms. Barry and Ms. Turner try. They really do. Maybe they aren’t experienced enough writers yet, but it just felt like yelling at a brick wall. Charlie was mad, but never thought about ways to change the system. She supported the few other women who work with her, but was very accepting of the status quo. Which I know was required in a lot of ways during the time, and still is, but I needed her to grow more. Yes, she got promoted by the end, but she didn’t really grow as a character. She’s beautiful and has used her looks to advance herself in her field at times, and will continue to do so. She’s brilliant and works hard and continue to do so, but she just doesn’t development enough for me. She’s beautiful, brilliant, and angry at men in science at the start and the same at the end. I would have enjoyed more to her as a character.
And the same goes for Parsons. He’s an asshole engineer at the start and an asshole engineer at the finish, although does realize he has feelings by then at least. His character felt even less developed. I know I’m just spoiled at this point, but I want more from my romance novels today.
That’s not to say this one is bad, it just wasn’t what it could be. I had higher hopes is all. Hopefully the next one reaches where I think the authors can go.