This book is well loved by cannonballers and for good reason. It is a love story between two women fighting to find happiness in a world set up to withhold it from them in every arena, and somehow it manages to do this while being gentle, sweet, and fairly low on angst.
Plot: Lucy is an astronomer, not that anyone knows it, since everything she’s ever done she’s published under her father’s name. When her long time girlfriend marries a man for the financial security marriage provides, and with the recent death of her father risking the future of Lucy’s scientific career, Lucy decides to fight for her place in science. She reaches out to the long time correspondent of her father, the Lady Moth, who as it turns out is also something of a brilliant woman whose light was slowly crushed by her late husband. Together, they face the self-important gatekeepers of scientific pursuit and find love in the process.
This book is unusual in regency romances because inherent to a love story that must be kept secret, none of the usual scenes you expect logically come up. There aren’t balls and society picnics and formal courtship rituals. Even when these events do take place, they’re mentioned in passing. They are inconsequential. Instead, the book focuses squarely on the private world that Lucy and Catherine share, a world they leave only when they must to pursue their professional goals. It creates an atmosphere that is cosy but also lonely. They can’t be their true selves in public, and so they have few connections to the outside world.
Perhaps because of this, the few times the book stuck to genre orthodoxy felt out of place. The inevitable third act conflict felt forced and as a result the resolution felt unsatisfying.
Still, if you’re on the hunt for a gentle but fiercely feminist historical romance, you can’t go wrong with The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics.