Bingo – Underrepresented
Our lovers, Portia and Tavish, get off to a bad start when a) Tavish forgets to pick Portia up from the train station, and b) Portia mistakes him for an attacker and maces him. This is one of my favorite ways to start a romance.
Portia is trying to change everything in her life, but she can’t avoid herself. Tavish is trying to holdback change, while everything is changing around him. In A Princess in Theory, Portia was a hot mess, perpetual student, and perennial party girl. After a particularly bad decision, Portia almost destroyed the most important relationships in her life. Now she is working to rebuild herself and become the responsible adult she wants to be – Project: New Portia.
Tavish is a grump and circumstances are exacerbating the grumpy assholery. He didn’t really want an apprentice and doesn’t have any interest in improving the armory’s internet presence, or really doing anything to reach out to customers. Which is too bad, because money is dwindling and he is anxious about his ability to keep the business going. Tavish, his brother and sister in law have turned the armory into almost a community center and he is worried about what will happen to the more vulnerable kids in the area. It’s in an area of Edinburgh that is going through gentrification, to which Tavish is opposed. And then, on top of Portia mistaking him for an attacker, he finds himself inappropriately attracted to Portia. She is attracted to him, but doing her best to New Portia.
Fuck. No! Unfortunately, it seemed that “gruff but vulnerable” was a trait she could really appreciate in a man. She ignored the way her breath caught and reminded herself that gruff was a synonym for “acts like an asshole because other people enable him.”
There is a lot going on in this book: an against our better judgement romance, identity, family expectations, gentrification, bigotry, sexism, the lack of pockets in women’s clothing, ADHD, sudden aristocracy, personal growth, and valuing your own self. Alyssa Cole pulls it off. She keeps a strong central romance while a lot goes on around and through it. Portia is one of my favorite romance heroines in recent years. If this romance had just been her falling in love with herself, I would have been fine with that too.
But to Portia, what seemed disparate to other people made perfect sense to her. For example, her parents saw her apprenticeship as a lark, instead of a way of testing the years of crafting classes, art history studies, research, and her innate talent at putting other people’s best face forward. If Tav was about to become a royal duke, that was just another way in which she could help.
In a lot of ways, this book was a love letter to female friendships and to Romancelandia. If you want to see that women supporting women in romance land in action, go look for #MindYourBusinessElena. Open white supremacist Elena Haskins freaked out over the cover because a white man is with a black woman.
Despite being reported for her ugly tweets about “white gentile genocide” she still has a very active twitter account. So buy this book for two reasons – it’s a good read and it will piss off the white supremacists. #MindYourBusinessElena
ps. I wish the restaurant Doctor Hu was real, because it sounds clever and delicious.