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.Catherine...

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

    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,

    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.)

  • aarya

    This book makes me so, so happy. I felt like I was floating away on a soft cloud the entire time I was reading it, or maybe slightly tipsy on champagne. I read this one evening curled up on a hammock and hated myself for not taking breaks (so I wouldn’t finish so fast!).

    Not officially reviewing this one for SBTB, but here are some brief comments:

    1) Beautiful, gorgeous prose. For the most part, I don’t care much about prose. Either the voice works for me or it doesn’t. And when it does, the prose

    This book makes me so, so happy. I felt like I was floating away on a soft cloud the entire time I was reading it, or maybe slightly tipsy on champagne. I read this one evening curled up on a hammock and hated myself for not taking breaks (so I wouldn’t finish so fast!).

    Not officially reviewing this one for SBTB, but here are some brief comments:

    1) Beautiful, gorgeous prose. For the most part, I don’t care much about prose. Either the voice works for me or it doesn’t. And when it does, the prose usually isn’t that enchanting or well-crafted. Here, it’s impossible not to notice how much care and love is imbued into every sentence.

    “Each edge of the shawl glittered with comets, icy silver spheres made of spiking stitches, a few with long wispy tails of single strands stretching out toward the center of the fabric. Arranged in a line, they formed shapes like classical columns, or arches on some Palladian monument. Between these edges was a vast, starry expanse, tiny glass spangles scattered across the blue like diamonds on velvet. Lucy’s trained eye picked out the familiar patterns at once—there was the boxy bulk of Ursa Major, and spiky Cassiopeia the jealous queen, and the broad shoulders of Orion the hunter. She looked back again in wonder at the comet border, marveling at the subtle color variation in the silk threads. Silver and white and gold and even a hint of palest green, each thread as precisely placed as a brushstroke on a portraitist’s masterpiece, giving the impression that each comet was still somehow streaking across the nighttime sky on its impossible journey.”

    Honestly, I flipped to a random page and chose a paragraph to showcase. Every description made my heart soar and my soul sigh dreamily. See how lame my words are? That’s because I’m a terrible writer. I promise you the book’s prose is better than my lame praise of it.

    2) I’m a sucker for people being hurt by previous relationships and then discovering love with a new partner. Both Lucy and Catherine have suffered different kinds of relationship tragedies, but watching them discover love anew is so heartwarming.

    3) So, I’ll admit it. I think astronomy is boring. I once fell asleep on a field trip to the planetarium where they made us lie down and look at the stars. My conspiracy theory is that none of these constellations actually exist because I can never, ever connect the dots and figure out which star pattern matches the freaking drawing. Yet somehow, the book represented astronomy in such a way that even me, a complete cynic, fell in love with the stars. Don’t ask me how. I think black magic was involved, because I really don’t like astronomy. Maybe I should give the planetarium another try.

    4) I expected science when I started this book, but I did not expect the fascinating discussion of what art is and isn’t. Not to spoil too much (as I think you should discover this for yourself), but this is easily my favorite part of the book. Also, I want a comet dress. Avon should design astronomy-themed dresses as swag and give them out during RWA. Or something to do with embroidery.

    5) THE ROMANCE 😭❤️😭❤️😭❤️

    6) Please give me more non-cishet people falling in love in historicals. Please. Especially f/f. I enjoy m/m, but do confess to loving f/f even more. This is Avon’s first f/f historical and I sincerely hope that they’ll publish many more.

    I have a strict no-buying arcs policy (mostly because I’m a broke college grad with student loans!) but I’ll probably make an exception for this book because I really want to support this book and let Avon know that there is an audience for f/f historicals. I really hope there’s a sequel.

  • Fadwa (Word Wonders)

    This book is just. so beautiful

  • 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 unique

    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)

    what did we even do to DESERVE this book

    Thank you so much to Macmillan for the arc of this – I was approved two days ago and this is just... wonderful.

  • 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 with a h

    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

  • Kate

    F/F HISTORICAL ROMANCE, IS THIS EVERYTHING I'VE EVER DREAMED OF OR WHAT

    Update: Yes, yes it was.

    When I saw a synopsis of this book, I knew I had to read it. F/F romance set in a regency era? Between a rich widowed countess and a girl astronomer? My instant reaction was HOW FUN - COUNT ME IN.

    This story turned out to be so much more than that. I love reading books - I have fun doing it, whether it's a delighted pleasure taken in discovery of something amazing or twisted satisfaction in finishing a

    F/F HISTORICAL ROMANCE, IS THIS EVERYTHING I'VE EVER DREAMED OF OR WHAT

    Update: Yes, yes it was.

    When I saw a synopsis of this book, I knew I had to read it. F/F romance set in a regency era? Between a rich widowed countess and a girl astronomer? My instant reaction was HOW FUN - COUNT ME IN.

    This story turned out to be so much more than that. I love reading books - I have fun doing it, whether it's a delighted pleasure taken in discovery of something amazing or twisted satisfaction in finishing a book that makes me want to fling my e-reader across the room. However, the type of...kinship and emotional fulfillment I felt while reading "The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics" is extremely rare and precious.

    This is certainly a love story, between Lucy Muchelney, an astronomer who has recently had her heart broken, and Catherine St. Day, widowed countess whose marriage was a constant streak of personal unfulfillment and emotional abuse. After her father’s death and her lover taking a husband, Lucy sets out to London with an ambitious goal of translating work of esteemed French astronomer. Catherine, aka Lady Moth, agrees to take her in as a guest, and, after members of Polite Science Society turn out to be anything but polite, offers to sponsor and publish her translation on her own.

    And thus, begins a bisexual awakening of Lady Moth and a blooming romance between the two.

    Now, let me count the ways I loved this romance.

    First of all, the apparent respect and support between Lucy and Catherine. While Lucy is ten years younger than Catherine, she’s the one more experienced in having a relationship with a woman. That’s not to say Lady Moth is an innocent miss straight out of schoolroom. No, she’s been married for fifteen years and even had an affair after her husband’s death (HUGE kudos for including that!) and she has a baggage of her own. They both do. Which is why I absolutely loved how they took things slow. And when they finally got together, I could feel how they cherished each other and their closeness.

    Secondly, this is not just about the romance. The outstanding theme, actually, at least to me, is women supporting and loving women. Women helping each other achieve their dreams and goals and realize that there is more to life than living in the shadow of men.

    When Lucy and Catherine take a leap and begin a relationship, they don’t only embark on a journey towards love. No, they embark on a path of self-discovery and self-acceptance. And it’s beautiful and oh-so-heart-warming to read about them uplifting each other and being there for each other.

    Apart from this, I really have to applaud the author for the way she handled the issue of homophobia in XIX century. Personally, at least, I found it to be the perfect balance between so-called historical accuracy and respect for queer readers. Do I want to read about two ladies getting it on in Regency era? HELL YES.

    Do I want to be brought down by “historically-accurate” mentions of how they are scorned and ostracized because of their love?

    In this book, we do have mentions of homophobia – it would be impossible not to include it when writing about a time when it was systematic (sex between two men was criminalized). But just because a society you write about is homophobic as a rule, doesn’t mean your characters need to be as well! And I’m glad the author understands that. Not only are there mentions of other F/F and M/M relationships throughout the book, the characters that find out about Lucy and Catherine don’t react with scorn – they turn into allies.

    Lucy and Catherine? In the end, they don’t need to satisfy themselves with scraps of happiness, no matter how beautiful. In the end, they take it all – love, science, art, permanence, sense of security.

    To a large extent, this book also deals with sexism and misogyny. But again, the way it’s done leaves you feeling uplifted, not discouraged (and I don't want to spoil but there's a plot twist at the end that makes it even more amazing). Lucy ends up making a place for herself in a field that is almost entirely ruled by men. Catherine decides to follow her dreams in a field that has been discounted as a trivial female pursuit. Both of them team up to help other women have their voices heard. And just like with their relationship, they have allies here too.

    I think there is only one thing in this book that made me recoil as I read it:

    NO. No, he did not. That is, in fact, factually incorrect statement. Mikołaj Kopernik aka Nicolaus Copernicus was XV/XVI Polish astronomer who was one of the very first to introduce heliocentric system, so a system in which it’s the Earth that revolves around the Sun while at the same time turning daily on its axis.

    It’s just one sentence but I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t point this out and given the focus this story has on astronomy, it’s a factual error that shouldn’t have been made.

    Going back to the good things though – I absolutely recommend this book. It was beautiful and emotional and simply a delight to read.

  • 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.

  • 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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