A review by ghosthermione
Good Neighbors: The Full Collection, by Stephanie Burgis
I’ve really enjoyed Scales and Sensibility previously, so I got this book knowing it was a historical romance, but not much else. I didn’t read the blurb or anything, just knew others whose opinion I trust loved it, so I went into it expecting a regular romance, and was pleasantly surprised to find out it had magic and necromancers and a heroine who’s a metalworker and wears pants (well, coveralls) most of the time! I’m a sucker for a woman with a job, especially in historical romance so this was a great start!
Now, technically this isn’t one novel, so much as a collection of short stories, all linked together. But it reads as one, or at any rate, like different acts of the same story.
I have to say, I love a good grumpy heroine as well. Mia just… doesn’t want to make friends! She doesn’t want to socialize! She’d rather stay in her workshop and drink her tea and never see anyone but her dad all year long! I can entirely relate, minus the workshop. Her grumpiness extends to telling her neighbours exactly what she thinks, and that includes the handsome necromancer who’s trying his best to invite her to tea (and get her to fix his minions). Which makes for hilarious and cute interactions.
As in any good romance, you can clearly see how the both of them are yearning for each other, and their flaws and insecurities complete each other so well and make for the best miscommunications! The last two stories were my favourites, as they take a little longer to develop and see our two heroes come together to make the world a better place, and look, I’m also a sucker for stories of found families and communities fighting against injustice. Also, “there’s only one bed” and fake dating tropes in the third story just made me very, very happy!
It’s also refreshing to read a historical romance where the main characters are like “propriety? I don’t know her” and like, share a carriage alone together. Or a room. No chaperones or anything like that, and nobody who matters really cares. It’s not exactly your regular historical romance. But it did remind me of other romance novels like Olivia Waite’s Feminine Pursuits series, if only for the working women and the community coming together. Also, while it’s a f/m story, there are background queer characters that are absolutely great, and I really hope the author gets around to the novella about some of them she mentions in the afterword.
Overall a great, light and short romance with some adorable (yet headstrong) characters in a historical-ish setting. With pet sea serpents and minions and skeletal dragons… and the idea that love – in all its forms – triumphs after all.