I was turned onto this book by a fellow bookseller at the bookstore I work in. Ash is a member of the LGBTQ community, as am I, but is much more invested in finding good LGBTQ Lit than me and thus often suggests books worth looking into. Since the Lady’s Guide isn’t terribly long (330 ish pages) and it’s a genre I NEVER read (historical romance- regency) I decided to give it a try.
I won’t say “Oh my gods I’m so in love with this,” simply because it isn’t the type of thing I typically enjoy. Having said that I did enjoy it more than I expected. Obviously, this wasn’t your average $1 harlequin with terrible writing. (I know I’m stereotyping, but I’ve read some truly bad romances in my day). The writing flowed well, and the story drew me in. I’ve read reviews that complain about the minutiae of the story as it delves into Lucy’s love for astronomy. However, I think of this as a strength. Too many romance novels have interchangeable heroes and heroines. I liked the specifics of Lucy and Catherine.
Lucy was such a strong character. She fought for what she cared about even when literally everything in her time period told her to give it up. She had a lover before for quite some time and hadn’t let herself be ashamed by that fact. She would have married her girlfriend if the world would have allowed it even if it had made her life harder in some ways. She strived toward her astronomy goals though her own brother told her not to bother.
I found Catherine to be heartbreaking and fascinating. She had repressed herself in so many ways because of a crappy husband. She believed her embroidery to be some simplistic womanly pastime not worthy of praise. She ignored and tried to run from her sexuality as well as her sexual orientation. Being able to watch as she chose to love and trust herself and others again was fascinating.
I quite like the series title “Feminine Pursuits” because it’s just so very teasing. A title one could say in front of the most conservative coworker and not worry that person would have any clue what they were actually talking about and yet it fits the idea perfectly.
I can’t review a steamy romance and not discuss the sexy times. They were well-written and didn’t drag on. Seriously, some books decide whole chapters ought to be naked and frolicking. My one issue with the sex scenes was that it had a very relay sort of feel. Like one woman would do stuff while the other laid there and went “ooh” and then they’d switch and this was consistent for EVERY scene. I’m not saying this isn’t accurate, I’m just saying it isn’t accurate for my experiences.
I was curious how the sort of requisite marriage thing was going to be handled. If you’ve read romance books before you know that the proposal is a huge deal as a sign of how the relationship is going (good or bad). This being a regency romance with lesbians I wasn’t sure what the replacement would be to show how far they had come. Waite came up with a really clever way of tying them together in name and by law. They kept their own names, but they created a business venture together that tied them to one another forever. Them sharing it was very romantic and sweet. It was a way of them bonding despite the era they live in and sharing their lives together in a way that was specific to them and thus very heartwarming.
**end of spoiler**
There were tropes but it was pretty free of those annoying LGBTQ+ book/movie clichés where someone dies or leaves the relationship just because of outside opinion. For anyone worried that there will be the usual “one of them dies at the end” thing please let me allay your concerns. Both are alive and well at the end. Also, there was none of the “it’s just so hard to be a lesbian/gay/different so we have to break up.” If you’ve read or watched many of the LGBTQ books or movies that came out in the 90’s and early 2000’s you know what I’m talking about.
I think if people like romance and especially historical romance this is absolutely one to read. Even if you’re not the biggest fan of romance this one is still pretty fun if only for its unique characteristics.Follow me on Instagram and Goodreads