Bombshell is a Victorian age romance with a ton of pining, and a heroine who belongs to a girl-gang out to dismantle the patriarchy. One of them specializes in explosions. Objectively I can look at this book and say that some readers may have an issue with how much time spent on the girl-gang scenes versus the romance, but also ONE OF THEM SPECIALIZES IN EXPLOSIONS. I think part of this imbalance is to set up the rest of the series, but the gang’s quest for justice was very heisty and fun. Frankly if there had been no romance I still would have enjoyed this book because we get to see justice delivered to assholes who deserve it. The issue is that the conflict keeping the hero and heroine apart was revealed far too late in the narrative.
Sesily Talbot has always lived life on her own terms, never marrying, enjoying being known for scandal, and running with a group of three other women who have banded together to get justice for women. Sesily is used to getting what she wants, with the notable exception of Caleb Calhoun, her sister’s business partner. Caleb is American and when Sesily confessed her feelings to him, he up and left for Boston. Ouch. Now Caleb is back for her new nephew’s christening and Sesily is still pretty raw about the whole deal.
Meanwhile Caleb is pining for Sesily and that pining is glorious (I love pining in my romance. Give me all the yearning glances). Unfortunately, Sesily and Caleb spent far too much time mutually longing for each other without a satisfying explanation given for why they can’t just be together. If Caleb wanted Sesily that much, and knew the feeling was mutual, why couldn’t he pull his head out of his ass and be with her?
We do eventually get an explanation for Caleb’s reluctance, and it’s a good one, but it came quite late in the book. If it had been woven in earlier, the conflict would have made more sense to me.
Meanwhile, while Caleb is making moon eyes at Sesily, he’s also concerned at her recent activities with her girl gang. She’s putting herself in physical danger (at one point even getting into a bar fight) and Caleb wants her to stop. Sesily is not having his overprotective BS. She knows she can take care of herself. During said bar fight she tells him:
“Men are ridiculous.”
“For wanting to keep you safe?”
“For believing you aren’t the thing from which we are most in danger.” She spread her arms wide. “Look around you.”
SO MUCH YES.
Overprotective heroes drive me up a wall because they’re determined to protect the heroine from outside forces without examining how they contribute to the power structures that set those forces up to begin with.
Eventually Caleb learns that Sesily can handle her shit, Sesily learns why Caleb is being a butthead about their mutual attraction and affection, and all wrongs are righted.
But back to the girl gang. I can only assume the other three members of the gang, Miss Adelaide Frampton, Lady Imogen Loveless, and The Duchess of Trevescan will be the heroines of the following books in the series. Along with Sesily, they are determined to bring what justice they can to the women around them through plots that involve creating situations where, for example, terrible people humiliate themselves. Because they are women, their activity is largely overlooked (with the exception of Caleb) and each time they deliver a comeuppance it is immensely satisfying.
The plots of Sesily, Adelaide, Imogen and The Duchess felt very Ocean’s 8 to me. Each of their plans for comeuppance has a heist-like feel and each character has a role: Sesily is the face man; Imogen the demolitions expert; The Duchess is the financier; and Adelaide is the reconnoiter. All that combined with a romance full of pining and a heroine who doesn’t need saving added up to such a happy reading experience. I could have used some of the conflict being explained earlier on, but I was enjoying myself plenty and look forward to the next book in the series.