Friday 17 January 2020

Book Review - The Lady's Guide To Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite

The Lady's Guide To Celestial Mechanics is a beautiful historical romance which sees Lucy Muchelney - mourning both the death of the father she worked with on astronomy, and the marriage of her long-time best friend and lover to a man - take a job translating a groundbreaking French scientific text for the Countess of Moth. The Countess, recently widowed and really NOT mourning her domineering husband, has never thought of being with a woman before but quickly falls for the vivacious and charming Lucy.

This is one which I've seen lots of love for on my Twitter timeline, and it's easy to see why! The central pairing here are an absolutely gorgeous couple with really strong, clear character arcs and sizzling chemistry between them. In addition to the wonderful romance, though, there's also lots here about the importance of art, and ignoring narrow definitions of what 'qualifies' as art, with the Countess creating breathtaking embroidery but initially being reluctant to even claim the word 'artist' to describe herself. Add in some brilliant parts about the overlooking of women in STEM, and the thefts of their discoveries by male relatives or spouses; this is a strongly feminist book which has a great message of empowering women.

I loved the way that the speed of the initial romance left lots of time to look at other aspects of the relationship - what happens when former lovers or love interests reappear? How do you know how far you're willing to go in bed when the idea of being with someone of the same gender is new to you? When your love affair has to be a well-kept secret from society, are you relieved that you aren't trapped in it, or scared that your lover can leave you so easily? And how CAN you commit to a relationship with someone who society can't acknowledge your love for?

The love scenes between the pair are simultaneously super steamy and really tender, and do a great job of showing us both of their personalities. While the characters, particularly the main pairing, were definitely my favourite thing about the book I also really appreciated the strong historical setting, especially in regards to the erasure of both same-sex relationships and of women in STEM. The book builds to a clever climax which took me by surprise and really works beautifully well.

Definitely a new favourite of mine, and Olivia Waite is firmly on my 'must buy' list after this one!

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