The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics

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. As Lucy Muchelney watches her ex-lover’s sham of a wedding, she wishes herself anywhere else. It isn’t unt...

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Title:The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics
Author:Olivia Waite
Rating:

The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics Reviews

  • ⚔ Silvia ⚓

    I don't often read historical fiction but I've been trying to make exceptions for queer histfic, especially when they're f/f. And there's a special set of emotions I go through while reading, the most unpleasant of which is the fear that something bad will happen, that will make me recoil and make me want to put down the book not because it's not good but because of the unnec

    I don't often read historical fiction but I've been trying to make exceptions for queer histfic, especially when they're f/f. And there's a special set of emotions I go through while reading, the most unpleasant of which is the fear that something bad will happen, that will make me recoil and make me want to put down the book not because it's not good but because of the unnecessary bad stuff (read: homophobia, transphobia, racism, violence against women, etc) that traditionally has been associated with historical fiction. It's

    , you say, to which I say: ✨fuck off✨

    This premise just so I can talk about what it did to me to go into this book and soon realize I needed to stop bracing myself for the stuff I mentioned above, because, amazingly, it kept not coming. And there's a lesson for histfic authors:

    It's not that this book shies away from a lot of stuff including misogyny and the fact that the two women won't ever be able to live their relationship publicly. But it's written so delicately and carefully that as long as you know the content warnings you don't have to be scared that things are going to get bad. In fact, things get so, so good.

    This is a romance that's certainly good and wholesome and that made me so happy. But the romance is almost secondary to the beautiful messages this book sends about art, science, and the presence and importance of women in both fields, and how this presence has always been there, whether we care to know it or not.

    And, you know, this is a book about two cis, white women. But it manages to be intersectional and acknowledge issues that wouldn't necessary touch the lives of the two main characters, in a way that makes anybody feel welcome while reading. I can't stress enough how books like this are so important.

    The relationship itself was very cute and while the MCs got together a little soon for my liking (with necessary later drama), I still liked everything about it. Catherine, the widow, had never explored her attraction to women and although she's older than Lucy she is kind of the more inexperienced of the two. I really liked that and it was so great to see them explore consent in every scene together. There's also a little bit of an age gap (I think it's about 10 years, Catherine is 35 and Lucy 25), which is not something I usually love in romance, but the fact that they're both relatively older and both have experience in love/dating, as well as their own interests and expertise made me enjoy it and not really care about the gap at all. They both had things to teach each other and they helped one other out in so many ways, not in a "love fixes everything" way but in a way where they both figured out who they want, who they

    to be and that was so beautiful to see.

    I also loved the writing style so much I actually got mad that I was reading this with a read-out-loud app because I couldn't highlight the best quotes. But that also means I definitely want to reread it sometime when time will allow me to, because it was so atmospheric and at times poetic, I just have to sit down and read it with my own two eyes.

    Sometimes the endings of romance books can seem a little weak, but not this book's. It was actually one of the most satisfying endings ever (and I'm not only talking about the romance but the actual plot too). Everything came together so nicely and I might or might not have started bawling my eyes out while I was finishing washing the dishes because it was just THAT good.

    So, if it's not obvious, I think if you are uncertain whether to buy this book or not you should definitely go for it. If you don't normally read historical romance, let this one be your exception. If you're a historical romance veteran, go for it without a doubt. If you're craving sapphic romance, this is your fix. You can thank me later and scream @ me about how good it is.

    CW: misogyny, talks of homophobic mentality, mention of past nonconsensual sexual acts, mention of a dead parent

    _________

    “f/f historical romance about a lady astronomer and an explorer’s widow” 👀👀👀👀👀👀

    Y'ALL I GOT APPROVED BY EDELWEISS THIS NEVER HAPPENS I'M THE HAPPIEST PERSON IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Acqua

    4.5 stars

    is an F/F historical romance set in England in 1816, and it's currently my favorite adult romance novel. It wasn't perfect, as I did struggle with the pacing as I usually do with this genre, but to read a novel like this one, about

    , was such a refreshing experience.

    The main characters of this novel are

    , an astronomer who runs away to London to translate a French astronomical text, and/>The

    4.5 stars

    is an F/F historical romance set in England in 1816, and it's currently my favorite adult romance novel. It wasn't perfect, as I did struggle with the pacing as I usually do with this genre, but to read a novel like this one, about

    , was such a refreshing experience.

    The main characters of this novel are

    , an astronomer who runs away to London to translate a French astronomical text, and

    , the widowed Countess of Moth, who accompanied her scientist husband on travels around the world and now lives in London, free of that emotionally abusive marriage.

    I had never read about a romance with a ten-year age gap before (Lucy is in her mid-twenties and the Countess is 35, I think), so I was a bit hesitant, but I ended up liking these characters' dynamic - they were good at communicating and solving conflict; the moments of miscommunication never lasted long. I also thought that the sex scenes were well-written, that one bad simile notwithstanding.

    One of the first things that stood out to me about this novel was the writing: it's so detailed and atmospheric that I wanted to make an aesthetic board for this book, and I would have were I able to do that kind of thing.

    , and I knew me and it were going to get along from the moment I knew that one of the heroines was a scientist and that the other was an artist who liked to embroider plants (and the

    is objectively a good subject, Catherine is right).

    More than anything,

    . It's not a book that tries to tell you which of the two is more important, it's a book that talks about the importance and beauty of science while talking about how men in this era did many unethical things in the name of it, it's a book that talks about the complexities of art while also pointing out that the forms of it that were associated with women (like embroidery) weren't seen as art at all.

    I loved this message.

    For what didn't work for me as much - well, the characters get together before the 40% mark, which is... really early for a romance novel, or any novel, one could say. And while I did appreciate how the conflict in this book wasn't internal to the relationship,

    . The ending, however, made up for it.

    Another thing that I could have done without was the part in which they called an Italian character "Contezza". Will Americans ever not disappoint me like that? (It's "Contessa", and even

    can tell you that. "Contezza" means "knowledge" or "awareness" and even then, it's a word I've never seen anyone use.)

  • chan ☆

    this was such a lovely historical romance, truly the best i've ever read. AND IT'S SAPPHIC? i know. we're thriving in 2019.

    such a perfect blend of plot (astronomy, fighting the patriarchy!!) and romance. what really stood out to me was how each woman was so thoughtfully written and given her own unique set of characteristics, interests, ways of interacting. romances are hit or miss with characters and olivia waite really went ALL THE FUCK OUT making these ladies

    this was such a lovely historical romance, truly the best i've ever read. AND IT'S SAPPHIC? i know. we're thriving in 2019.

    such a perfect blend of plot (astronomy, fighting the patriarchy!!) and romance. what really stood out to me was how each woman was so thoughtfully written and given her own unique set of characteristics, interests, ways of interacting. romances are hit or miss with characters and olivia waite really went ALL THE FUCK OUT making these ladies unique and interesting.

    i also loved how supportive of each other they were in their career pursuits. it was *chefs kiss* perfect. 10/10 recommend this.

    i will note though, that this is not a campy/fun historical but a slightly more serious jane austen angsty kind. so basically, perfect.

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)

    is a historical romance novel about two girls who fall in unlikely love. Lucy is an aspiring astronomer whose father has recently died and whose lover has gotten married to a man she does not love. Catherine is a widower of a famous scientist whose anger at her often outweighed his kindne

    is a historical romance novel about two girls who fall in unlikely love. Lucy is an aspiring astronomer whose father has recently died and whose lover has gotten married to a man she does not love. Catherine is a widower of a famous scientist whose anger at her often outweighed his kindness.

    The thing is that as well as living in a society that enforces strict homophobia, Catherine and Lucy live in a society that devalues relationships that do not end in marriage. So though the two have a loving, mutually trusting relationship by around 50% of the way through the book, each is quite convinced that the other will, at any moment, leave them.

    I was deeply impressed by how the author pulled this off: there’s

    , per se, but instead an expression of anxiety from both sides that leads them both to understand the relationship as meaning less to the other person than it does to them.

    manages to pull this off in such a matter-of-fact, honest manner that it’s impossible to read as a trope. It’s simply

    and esolutions come when character growth comes, rather than when the plot calls for it.

    There’s

    that I really wanted to quote:

    Because that is one of the things that amazes me the

    about this book: it focuses on and deals with homophobia in a culture and how it is internalized by the lead characters, but it focuses that energy towards development and crafting tenderness and love between these two characters.

    I think there is a lot of value in lit that talks about and deconstructs historical homophobia, but it should be noted, in saying that, that

    of this type of literature is written by and for the heterosexual lens. This book is absolutely not that. Side queer characters are involved and given their own non-tragic stories; Catherine’s aunt is notable in that. And the pain and trauma of homophobia is

    used to explain the character’s internalized homophobia and build their characters, and only subtly. That is not to say stories involving homophobia on-page cannot be worthwhile — past homophobia can and should be explored in a way that puts queer people front and center — but I loved that this one avoided it entirely.

    also impressively targets not only the devaluation of the work women do in their selected fields, but also how “women’s fields” which actually require great amounts of talent are systematically devalued. Catherine’s work as an embroiderer is simply not respected, while Lucy’s work is given to men to receive credit; each of them, however, suffer from a devaluation of craft. This becomes a major element of their relationship and of each’s character development and I thought it was wonderful. Also, I am a

    nerd about translated work, and the fact that

    became such a major narrative in this book was so entertaining.

    Something I genuinely

    about this story was the way in which Catherine’s characterization was crafted. Catherine’s husband, we learn fairly quickly on, was prone to rage. So Catherine, within the first half of the book, is constantly on edge around others, expecting that they’re about to snap at any second. It is only after spending a great deal of time with Lucy in which Lucy does

    snap that she begins to regain trust. I thought the narrative dealt with this with a degree of respect for both Catherine and Lucy that is frankly and tragically unprecedented.

    Oh god, um, I know I’ve said a lot about this book being excellent, but it’s also just… a really good romance? I frankly don’t read a ton of romance as it’s not my gig and also there are no sapphics in romance ever, but this! romance! was so tender and full of so much kindness and care between these two characters. It’s just angsty enough to get you

    invested but not so angsty as to be upsetting; each character is so well-crafted and well-respected by the narrative. Also, it’s just really fucking well written. I think I might end up going back to my kindle notes after I post this review because I think I highlighted half of the book (it’s actually a little embarrassing).

    In case you didn’t notice. I really loved this book. I didn’t want this book to end. I delayed reading the last 5% simply because I didn’t want it to end and I

    do that. This is a very very special romance and I would highly, highly recommend it.

    *Thank you so, SO much to Macmillan for the arc.

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  • Farah ファラ

    Jane Austen said "If a Book Is Well Written, I Always Find It Too Short"

    Most of us said "I dread finishing a great book"

    Partner said after hijacking the book from me and finishing it in a couple of hours "Absolutely great, let's get a copy for Mum"

    I said, "Be still my beating heart, the butler's name is Brinkworth, how fetching!"

    I think there’s truly something magical about a book if you are planning to reread it multiple times and confident that y

    Jane Austen said "If a Book Is Well Written, I Always Find It Too Short"

    Most of us said "I dread finishing a great book"

    Partner said after hijacking the book from me and finishing it in a couple of hours "Absolutely great, let's get a copy for Mum"

    I said, "Be still my beating heart, the butler's name is Brinkworth, how fetching!"

    I think there’s truly something magical about a book if you are planning to reread it multiple times and confident that you will still be enamored with the story, characters, and writing for as long as you live. The Lady's Guide To Celestial Mechanics is a captivating historical about two individuals striving to belong and how they discover a love that is found in the most unexpected of places/time. As a closeted(only to my sister, Fbi3) HR reader/fan, I am proud to say that this book claims the top spot of all the HR that I have ever read since I was 13.

    My favorite parts about this book - the rich and beautifully described historical setting and the leads. They go beyond the feistiness and gorgeous looks. It’s a gem to discover/read about 18th-century tale featuring strong, resilient ladies who can match their wit and passion with the gents and aren’t doormats. These women truly challenge the social decorum and hierarchy of their time, making them all the more refreshing and fun to read about. 

    Beautiful - poetic dialogues, endearing/feisty characters, and high-quality writing, this book completely charmed me and evoked a wide range of emotions. There’s a mix of everything in here - science, art, sexism, embroidery, botanical, book publishing, friendship, women power and romance that makes this an entertaining and thrilling read. 

    This is one phenomenally well-crafted love and self-discovery story has its own special place in my heart. Btw, I have the tailor's number on my speed dial for all sorts of clothing emergency so for me who still take an hour or more to insert the thread in the needle to go cuckoo over embroidery, does that tell you something?

    Attention hoity-toity historical romance prude, neither Catherine nor Lucy are virgins, touched for the very 1st time and their intimate scenes will make Ms.Austen blush for days.

    This story is exactly what I needed to get away from some of the terrible contemporary romance I've been reading, I really don't want this book to end even though the ending leaves me on the 7th cloud, I sincerely hope that Ms.Waite writes a sequel or a companion novel to follow this one. I’ll even settle for an extra chapter. This book - hands down, definitely make my list of best books of 2019 and I am looking forward to the audio next year - I really don't know if I should praise or curse Tere.

    Ms.Waite's magnificent storytelling ability, to-die-for characters, and addictive/captivating writing style only encourage and inspires me to check out more books in such genre.

    We ended our day with English Tea, he started on Lisa Kleypas and I began rereading Catherine and Lucy's tale. Highly recommended, please picture 7 stars instead of the boring 5 and thank you, Paradise Lost for this 💕

  • Lea (drumsofautumn)

    This book is the wholesome sapphic Historical Romance I was waiting for!

    I think when it comes to queer books in general but especially ones/>

    This book is the wholesome sapphic Historical Romance I was waiting for!

    I think when it comes to queer books in general but especially ones with a historical setting, it is so important to talk about how the queerness is handled. This

    Yes, they have to hide their relationship but the people that do find out are all supportive and accepting. We definitely know the homophobic people exist but we don't need to read their words.

    And hey, if it's your jam to read about (real) queer people in History and how they were treated, there's books out there for you too! I just don't think that queerphobia and tragic gay stories have ANY place in Romance novels!

    With this being about Lucy being an astronomer, there's also a lot of misogyny and that definitely plays a bigger role in this book but even that is handled in a way that feels so bearable. While women are very blatantly excluded from the scientific field,

    and the men's behaviour is mostly portrayed in a comedic way instead of having them threaten the women.

    It was great to see this book talk about women in science in general and that they did exist back in the day, it's just that they were hidden behind acronyms or their brother's/father's name. And this also had a side character that was a woman of colour in science!

    This book

    and that even if someone is verbally consenting, it is important to pay attention to their body language as well.There are so many different aspects of consent and a lot of them were brought up, like the fact that it doesn't mean anything that your partner has already been with someone for a long time, or that they're older. It was lovely to see Lucy, the younger woman, take care of Catherine, who had never been with a woman before.

    It also talked about Catherine's former husband enjoying giving and receiving pain during sex but that Catherine never consented to it. I liked that the book talked about the fact that

    and there was a scene later that reinforced exactly that.

    I do think

    and it definitely would've been a 5 star in that case. But then again, it felt so good for this romance to just kinda happen without much of the angst we're used to? It felt so very easy but in a good way.

    There is obviously some angst later on and your good old misunderstanding trope but it honestly always feels refreshing to me to see those tropes used in "out of the norm" books.

    So overall, I am highly recommending this book. It is a really wholesome read, with a wonderful romance and an interesting, but hopeful, look into women in science back in the day. Please pick this up and

  • Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)

    Maybe more of a 3.5. I enjoyed this one, but I wanted more romance and less science! If you're someone that really enjoys science and math and stuff and are looking for a queer romance, you will probably LOVE this.

  • lov2laf

    Ah, this cover does so much for the book but mostly as a disservice. Yep, it gets the point across that this is a historical read with an f/f relationship...

    But, I think it also may scare people away that aren't looking for a completely fluffy, harlequin, or overly dramatic romance for their read. Basically, it sells the quality of the story short because this is, in fact, a very high quality story with superb writing. Don't pass it up!

    Where does the title come from? The

    Ah, this cover does so much for the book but mostly as a disservice. Yep, it gets the point across that this is a historical read with an f/f relationship...

    But, I think it also may scare people away that aren't looking for a completely fluffy, harlequin, or overly dramatic romance for their read. Basically, it sells the quality of the story short because this is, in fact, a very high quality story with superb writing. Don't pass it up!

    Where does the title come from? The romance is between an astronomer's apprentice, Lucy, and the widow of a scientist, Catherine. Astronomy plays a big part in the tale...and to tell you more is a spoiler.

    What I really liked about the read was that we get the budding romance and lead up to the relationship but most of the book takes place AFTER the couple gets together and we see how they navigate some of the pitfalls of the past. It also reads as a feminist text, where we see our young scientist try to make her way into the male dominated scientific community and how the female characters are automatically discounted despite their talents and intelligence in just about every realm of society. How they react is compelling.

    The unfolding romance is believable and the narrative includes a few steamy scenes with many fade to black scenes interspersed.

    In general, the writing of the characters was great, dialogue was excellent, and the overall story was interesting and fun to follow. So many passages were beautifully written, I highlighted numerous ones.

    Unless I know it's a sure thing, I'm hesitant to dip my toe into the historical genre when it's an f/f romance because so much can go wrong. Without spoiling things, do know this is a happy, more positive story and we get a satisfying ending.

    Where the story fell down some was towards the ending. There's a conflict created that easily can be cleared up by a conversation...but at least the author didn't make us agonize for more than a day or two in the couple's world. And the ending wrapped up a little too simply and easily.

    But, overall, this was a really good and satisfying read. Highly recommend. 4.4 stars.

    P.S. Back to the cover. It's also misleading in another way. The leads have a ten year age gap and one of them, the one on the right, is actually curvy and a little plump while I took the younger to be more plain in looks. One of the leads is also bisexual. Those types of thing makes books and characters more interesting to me but I guess it's not as appealing on a cover.

  • Bethany

    Sooooo... I'm not sure exactly what made me pick this book up, since historical books tend to not work for me. Take my review with a grain of salt!

    The writing style was very fluid and the pacing was on point, but I didn't enjoy this one as much as I had hoped. I think it was a bit due to the time period that the story was set. Honestly, this book is more of a statement on feminism than a romance in my opinion, which isn't a bad thing at all. Just know that going in.

    I enjo

    Sooooo... I'm not sure exactly what made me pick this book up, since historical books tend to not work for me. Take my review with a grain of salt!

    The writing style was very fluid and the pacing was on point, but I didn't enjoy this one as much as I had hoped. I think it was a bit due to the time period that the story was set. Honestly, this book is more of a statement on feminism than a romance in my opinion, which isn't a bad thing at all. Just know that going in.

    I enjoyed it, but the time period this was set in paired with this being more of an intellectual story than I expected (science and math pursuits almost play the role of a third MC in this novel) just didn't work for my current mood when reading. Again, take that with a grain of salt because the story itself is beautifully written! For me, 3.75 stars.

  • K.J. Charles

    The love story is a delightful f/f romance set in Regency England (1816). The romance is slow-burning, passionate, caring, and intense. The women are both scarred by failed relationships, and their awkwardnesses and insecurities inform their behaviour, which is very real if a bit frustrating at times for the reader--but even when they don’t believe in their own relationship or the other’s love, they still have one another’s backs. It’s a glorious depiction of solidarity and female strength and k

    The love story is a delightful f/f romance set in Regency England (1816). The romance is slow-burning, passionate, caring, and intense. The women are both scarred by failed relationships, and their awkwardnesses and insecurities inform their behaviour, which is very real if a bit frustrating at times for the reader--but even when they don’t believe in their own relationship or the other’s love, they still have one another’s backs. It’s a glorious depiction of solidarity and female strength and kindness that I really enjoyed. If you’re reading for the romance, this is a very engaging and likeable story.

    The astronomy plot is about the male bias and oppression that stands in the way of Lucy’s astronomy career. Lucy's brother tells her "nobody is going to employ a woman as an astronomer". When she goes to the science society meeting, men laugh at the idea of a woman astronomer and debate “firstly whether women are capable of astronomy, secondly whether they would offer any particular benefit to astronomy”. The plot arc peaks with Lucy’s discovery that women have been erased from the history of astronomy, depriving them of credit and her of the role models she needed.

    The thing is, at this time, Caroline Herschel (sister of William, the discoverer of Uranus) was a famous and respected astronomer, in regular correspondence with the major names across Europe. She discovered eight comets, of which the first made the newspapers as “the first lady’s comet”. Her paper on it was the first ever paper by a woman to be read to the Royal Society (1787) and she became Britain’s first professional woman scientist when George III paid her a (meagre) salary. She was active as an astronomer in 1816, and would go on to be awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society a few years later. A real Lucy would unquestionably know her work, as would all the men of the astronomy society. Caroline Herschel was not erased from astronomy in her lifetime. She is erased in this story, in which no such figure exists.

    Does this matter? God knows I am used to historical romance treating my country as a fictional construct. There’s plenty of space in romance for inserting MCs into history as main actors, or playing with “suppose X happened, not Y”. And this isn’t presented as accurate history: the science society is entirely fictional. I get all that. I wouldn’t care if a book made its hero Prime Minister, in part because that’s obvious fictionalising, and I would go squealing mad for a book that put a heroine into Herschel’s place and gave the poor woman a HEA.

    But this does bug me, because the counterfactual telling will leave readers who don’t already know about Herschel (which is probably most readers) under the impression that this landmark figure in the history of women in science never existed. And I could not quite get around erasing a woman scientist in order to make a point about the erasure of women scientists.

    Eh. I loved everything else about this book: the writing, the romance, the diverse cast, the discussion of where craft meets art and art meets science. For me the rewriting of history went a step too far in this specific area; others may very reasonably feel that Historical Romance Britain is generally so entirely dissimilar to Actual Historical Britain that it's hardly fair to quibble at this instance. Up to the reader, I guess.

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