The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics
As Lucy Muchelney watches her ex-lover’s sham of a wedding, she wishes herself anywhere else. It isn’t until she finds a letter from the Countess of Moth, looking for someone to translate a groundbreaking French astronomy text, that she knows where to go. Showing up at the Countess’ London home, she hoped to find a challenge, not a woman who takes her breath away.
Catherine St Day looks forward to a quiet widowhood once her late husband’s scientific legacy is fulfilled. She expected to hand off the translation and wash her hands of the project—instead, she is intrigued by the young woman who turns up at her door, begging to be allowed to do the work, and she agrees to let Lucy stay. But as Catherine finds herself longing for Lucy, everything she believes about herself and her life is tested.
While Lucy spends her days interpreting the complicated French text, she spends her nights falling in love with the alluring Catherine. But sabotage and old wounds threaten to sever the threads that bind them. Can Lucy and Catherine find the strength to stay together or are they doomed to be star-crossed lovers?
First of all – hooray for wonderfully written f/f romance! Hooray for women in STEM! Hooray for people finding their self-worth and inner strength! *throws glitter* OK, now that I’m done with all that celebrating…
This book is just absolutely, breathtakingly lovely. I adore the descriptions of Catherine’s embroidery designs (and am low-key jealous and wish I had that kind of talent). I also really admire Lucy’s tenacity in pursuing her passion, and her willingness to admit when she’s wrong. Their relationship together, while central to the story and absolutely AMAZING, isn’t the only focus of the story, and the other storylines are so great and eye-opening. Catherine must deal with the fallout of the emotional abuse she suffered from her deceased husband, Lucy also has a past love and heartbreak she is dealing with, and they both must struggle with the expectations and limitations of women in the early 19th century both in the sciences and the arts. There’s also a huge focus around what art is (and isn’t), the relationship between art and science, and women’s place (and marginalization) in both that is just so wonderfully done, I can’t even articulate. The descriptions of the beautiful places where they meet, like in the stellarium shawl, are just so *breathtaking*. Olivia Waite isdefinitely an artist.
There were a couple of spots where I saw the writing on the wall before the plot points actually happened, but that didn’t make those spots any less poignant and touching. I also struggled a bit with the pacing in the second half of the book – I think maybe Lucy and Catherine started their relationship a bit too early in the book so there wasn’t that will-they-won’t-they tension (though there was plenty of tension of an entirely different kind).
This is the first book in the Feminine Pursuits series, and I really can’t wait to see what Waite brings to the table next.
An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for review. All opinions are unbiased and my own.