I am, it seems, one of a few who enjoyed this book more than the first one in Olivia Waite’s Feminine Pursuits series (both books can be read as standalones). While I liked The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics a lot, I pretty much fell in love with Penelope and therefore with her story.
Set four years after The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics, The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows brings Agatha Griffin, a secondary character in The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics, to the forefront. Agatha’s husband Thomas died three years ago and she’s since been trying to keep the printing business afloat while managing her son’s increasingly radical ideas. Enter Penelope Flood, also in her mid-forties, come to save the Melliton branch of the print shop from a colony of bees. Penelope is married in name only, which Agatha doesn’t know, and both women quickly find themselves fighting feelings for one another, neither daring to voice them.
I have no idea how accurate the historical background is and I don’t really care, to be honest. I enjoyed the atmosphere, the small-town feel (there’s a map of Melliton on the author’s website) and the political backdrop – from class war to women’s rights to freedom of the press and libel. As a side note, if you’d like to know why your dildo shouldn’t be made of walnut, read J.S. Fields’ review of this book. Also, ignore the cover. It’s pretty but completely wrong.
I had doubts about the narration of The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics and I’m very happy to say I liked this one a lot more. The pace is perfect and each voice works. I laughed a lot more as well. Waite makes beekeeping sound extremely sensual and sexy. Or maybe, as I wrote above, I fell just a tiny bit in love with Penelope, her kindness and her wit. I also enjoyed witnessing the changes in Agatha’s views of the world and her sometimes very sarcastic sense of humour. I loved how uncompromising she is with both her beliefs (even though I completely disagree with most of them) and her love. While Penelope’s journey leads to her growing a backbone, Agatha’s softens her.
All the longing and yearning and the slow burn were delightful, and I loved how hot the sex scenes were once Agatha and Penelope allowed their desires to take over. I’m very impatient to get to read or listen to the third book in the series, The Hellion’s Waltz, which will be released on June 15th.