The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite
Publication date: 23 July 2019
Genre: Historical romance
Page count: 336 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
This is a spoiler-free review.
Ah, romance. How I miss thee. I burnt out on romance years ago when I was interning at a literary agency (another story for another time) and read about 50 romance novels in about three months. Since then, I haven’t been able to get back into one of my favourite genres. However, I do occasionally get a hankering to pick up a historical romance. When my pal Sara from the Fantasy Inn was raving about The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics, I hopped on Amazon and picked up the Kindle edition immediately. I cannot recommend this book more highly to romance veterans or newbies — it’s a gorgeous f/f love story that will warm your heart.
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?
Historical romance has always been a favourite of mine because you can sink into a familiar world with familiar tropes and know you’re getting a happy ending, unlike the majority of the murdery fantasy that I love so much. The wonderful thing about this book is that although it is historical romance and I knew going in exactly what I was going to get — two characters falling in love, some *thing* that causes issues between the two, and ultimately a happily ever after — it also had a very special twist to it. What I was really interested in was the fact that homosexuality was illegal at the time this book takes place, and for a long time after. What I wanted to see was how this would be tackled in a romance, which requires a happily ever after. Often the ‘happily ever after’ ending in romance, particularly historical romance, is a wedding. Obviously this wouldn’t be possible at the time due to homophobic laws, however I still found the ending of this book to be satisfying, despite the sadness in knowing that a marriage couldn’t happen — I hope that all makes sense.
Both Lucy and Catherine are great characters who stand up well on their own and as a couple. Lucy is definitely appealing with her incredible spark, her intelligence, and her ambitions. In many ways I think of Lucy as the ‘classic’ romance heroine. As much as I loved her, it was really Catherine who stole my heart. A much more timid woman who has led a surprisingly sad and quiet life, it was an absolute joy watching Catherine come out of her shell and blossom on the page. I adored the fact that she had such different and more stereotypically ‘womanly’ interests to contrast Lucy’s astronomy studies — Catherine’s embroidery is her love language and I adored the way it was incorporated into the story. The pair complemented each other so incredibly well and I absolutely believed in their happily ever after.
The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics is a lovely sapphic historical romance that is so different from much of the genre I’ve read. It’s a great book to sink into on a Saturday afternoon, and I guarantee you’ll fall in love with Lucy and Catherine.
Want to pick up a copy of The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics for yourself? You can find it at the following sites (affiliate links):