It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Fallen Woman of good family must, soon or late, descend to whoredom.

In Madeleine Robins' alternate Regency mysteries, Sarah Tolerance became a Fallen Woman when, as a teenager, she ran off with her fencing master. When the series opens, she is a young widow who has created a new role for herself as an investigative agent, solving mysteries with the help of her wits, her knowledge of society... and her awesome swordfighting skills.

This witty, clever, immersive, and sometimes quite angsty set of novels is one of those series that could have been a huge mainstream hit, but wasn't. Perhaps it was because of the horrific cover of the first book, Point of Honour, in which Sarah Tolerance appears to be either a vampire or a zombie. Perhaps marketing was lacking, or wrongly focused. Or perhaps it was chance. Whatever the reason, they got a small cadre of devoted fans, then fell out of print.

However, the series has been re-launched with a new novel (print only, from a different publisher) and Kindle editions of the old ones. They don't have to be read in sequence, but I'd recommend it. In order, they are Point of Honour, Petty Treason, and the new one, The Sleeping Partner.

The Sleeping Partner has less suspense and swordfighting than the previous two, and focuses more on Sarah Tolerance's past and her present relationships, and on the place of women in society. It's absorbing and thoughtful, and has a nice surprise!historical figure cameo near the end. If you liked the previous novels, you will like it.

Can someone who knows the period and has read the books explain to me the differences in Robins' alt-Regency and the real one? I get that the actual regent is different, but I don't know enough to be able to tell how that affected the society and how that enables Sarah to do what she does.

Robins has also released several regular Regencies on Kindle. I haven't read any of those.
rachelmanija: (Fishes: I do not see why the sex)
( Nov. 30th, 2011 12:32 pm)
[Poll #1799574]

Final paper is looming terrifyingly on the horizon. I have limited time this week, and it is due Monday. I have widely varying knowledge on the topics I listed on the poll, but I would have to do substantial research for any of them. So if anyone has tips like, "This one slim volume is the single best resource on the soul-figure/asexuality/fisting which can be read in a short period of time," please go for it! (These are not all the possible topics. They're drawn from a much longer list, whittled down considerably by factors like lack of interest and the phrase "object relations," which in my very short experience so far tends to point to excessively eye-glazing articles.)

I got so frazzled last week that I misread the due date for the final paper for another class, and madly wrote and turned it in yesterday... a week early. I guess that turned out to be a good thing, all things considered.

Also, I have to register for classes tomorrow and am worried that I won't be able to get into the classes I am most dying to take, now that I know who the best professors are.

Given my current state of stress-driven absent-mindedness, I should probably mention now, since it randomly popped into my mind, that there is a new Sarah Tolerance book out! I have my own copy of The Sleeping Partner: A Sarah Tolerance Mystery, and am saving it for the winter break, when I will have more relaxed time to read. Also, Sherwood Smith's Blood Spirits (Coronets and Steel), sequel to Coronets and Steel, is out! I read it in manuscript, and it is excellent. Both series will satisfy all your "women who fight with swords amidst a background of history and intrigue" needs.

ETA: Okay, I'm doing fisting. I found the Pat Califia essay I had recalled. It's called "Gay Men, Lesbians, and Sex," and it's worth reading. On Google Books. If anyone has further good fisting resources, online or offline, keep them coming!
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