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Oh, man. Wow. Wow, wow, wow. I haven’t lost a weekend to a novel in a while but Impossible Saints by Clarissa Harwood just sank its teeth into me and wouldn’t let go until I finished the whole thing. Wow.
As someone who has been called a “feminazi” by a random dirtbag on the internet, I’m of course fascinated by the suffrage movement, including the militant suffragettes of the early 1900s. So, naturally, I was drawn to the subject matter of the book.
Lilia, the heroine, is a very enthusiastic suffragette who was simply not content to sacrifice any of her beliefs. She makes speeches, she risks her life in protests, she is outspoken, and she’s super intelligent and tough. I love, love, loved her.
This is a historical romance story. I didn’t actually know that going into it, but man, the love interest did a 180 in my head SO FAST. I was very uncertain of how Paul—a man of the cloth—and the agnostic Lilia would get together because they seemed very at ends of the spectrum. But daaaaaaamn, Harwood is really good at writing chemistry between these two nerds. Well done, ma’am. Well done.
True story: the doorbell rang during a very intense scene and I almost dropped my Kindle on the floor.
But this book is hardly just about electrifying kissing scenes. Lilia deals with the work and stress of being a full-time suffragette while Paul struggles with his faith. The darkest points of the British suffragette movement are included and… oof. Even though I’ve read a lot about it previous to reading this novel, it still makes me queasy even thinking about the trauma these women endured.
Bonus: extra points go to Harwood for calling the French hero “Jeanne d’Arc” in the novel instead of the Anglicized “Joan of Arc.”
If you like historical romances with a fierce feminist angle, this is a must-read.
RATING: 5/5 stars