“A Time and Materials Job” by Anna Watson from Best Lesbian Romance 2012 (Cleis Press). Edited by Radclyffe.

Here’s a character type I haven’t seen in quite some time and didn’t realize that I missed: old-fashioned and well-mannered. The unnamed protagonist is polite and quietly confidant. She knows perfectly well what she wants but she doesn’t place her own desires above those of other people. She’s not a pushover; it’s just that she has respect for the feelings of others and the boundaries they seem to have erected around them. In other words, she was raised right. I love this character’s voice. It’s absolutely dead-on.

It would be easy to use the word “country” to describe her attitude, but I think her outlook harkens back to a time when most people, even those living in cities, were less sophisticated and jaded and, well, self-centered than we are now. She reminds me of the kind, determined souls Jimmy Stewart used to play. She’s an everywoman readers should be able to identify with, and hopefully will emulate.

She’s an electrician by trade, and we catch up with her just after she’s started on a project re-wiring a bungalow from the 1930s for a newly divorced mother of two small girls. Maeve has flaming red, curly locks, pale skin, lots of freckles, and a life that’s just fallen apart. The thing that would really benefit her right now would be finding someone even-keeled and very together, who wants to help her. The trouble is, that someone is too considerate even to ask what it was that caused the marriage to fail, to see if there might be a possibility for romance.

Speaking of romance, this tale is vying with “A View” by Brandon M. Long from Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction and “Save the Last Dance for Me” by David Puterbaugh from Best Gay Romance 2014, also both published by Cleis Press, for the title of Most Romantic Story of this project.