Firstly, I just want to say how happy I was when I heard this was being published. I have been looking for a historical romance f/f novel for a while now. I put out a call to my romance reading friends about six, seven months ago, and there were several novellas we turned up, but most published f/f is contemporary right now, and that’s not really my genre. And the stuff that wasn’t contemporary wasn’t regency, nor was it anything more than novellas for the most part. And then I heard this was being published and I was so excited! A Regency romance with two ladies! That is exactly what I wanted! So perhaps that was a lot of pressure to put on the book, but honestly, it held up. It didn’t blow me away or anything, and it didn’t use any of my preferred tropes, so it’s not going to be a favorite, but I liked it quite a bit and will definitely read the other books in this series.
Our two heroines are Lucy Muchelney and Catherine St. Day, the Countess of Moth. Lucy has just witnessed her lover of five years marrying someone else, and broken-hearted, has fled her small village for London in the hopes that she can find work as an astronomer from one of her father’s longtime correspondents. Her father was an astronomer, too, and towards the end of his life Lucy was doing all of his mathematical calculations for him. Catherine is an independently wealthy widow whose husband was high up in the scientific society he belonged to. She traveled with him on all his scientific voyages, backed him financially, and put up with his emotional abuse, only to be pushed aside and though useless by the fellows in the scientific society. It is Lady Moth who Lucy applies to. The society is sponsoring a translation of a famous French work of astronomy, and Lucy wants the job. That she is a woman is, of course, a problem.
This was a very sweet romance. Catherine helps Lucy heal from her heartbreak, and supports her emotionally in a way that Lucy has never had before, and Lucy shows Catherine what it means to be in a healthy romantic and sexual relationship for the first time in her life. The first 70% or so of the book was just this gentle emotional support, with occasional bursts of misogyny that our heroines have to overcome, and lots of talk about science and art thrown in, then Waite made the puzzling choice to insert drama where there had previously been no drama at all. SPOILERS They break up, out of nowhere, and for reasons I still can’t discern, even after re-reading those scenes multiple times. It felt forced, and manufactured, as if someone told Waite there wasn’t enough peril to the couple so they better break up and make each other cry before they can have their HEA. It did not fit at all, and it made no sense as written. Catherine interprets an obvious reaction of Lucy’s for something else, making Catherine look stupid, and Waite did not do a good enough job justifying it. Lucy put up no fight when confronted and did not defend her actions. It did not work END SPOILERS.
The ending was quite sweet, though, despite the wobble getting there. I thought it wrapped things up nicely.
[3.5 stars, rounded up]