Olivia Waite’s Georgian sapphic romance series, Feminine Pursuits, are one of the very few books that are an instant buy for me. I did this with Waspish Widows, and I did it again with Hellion’s Waltz, and no regrets! I’d do the same for another 10 more in the series.
It’s not a crime to steal a heart…
Sophie Roseingrave hates nothing more than a swindler. After her family lost their piano shop to a con man in London, they’re trying to start fresh in a new town. Her father is convinced Carrisford is an upright and honest place, but Sophie is not so sure. She has grave suspicions about silk-weaver Madeline Crewe, whose stunning beauty doesn’t hide the fact that she’s up to something.
All Maddie Crewe needs is one big score, one grand heist to properly fund the weavers’ union forever. She has found her mark in Mr. Giles, a greedy draper, and the entire association of weavers and tailors and clothing merchants has agreed to help her. The very last thing she needs is a small but determined piano-teacher and composer sticking her nose in other people’s business. If Sophie won’t be put off, the only thing to do is to seduce her to the cause.
Will Sophie’s scruples force her to confess the plot before Maddie gets her money? Or will Maddie lose her nerve along with her heart?
It’s really hard for me to review this with more than *incoherent screaming*. I loved it just as much as the previous ones in the series.
This time we’re following a piano teacher and a ribbon maker, and I really enjoy that we keep looking at more trades women were involved in at the time – and again more working class than the first book would’ve let on. We’re once more looking at unions (or lack thereof – I learned that the UK outlawed unions for a few years in the 19th century), and how workers help each other and strive for better rights. In this case, by conning the horrible capitalist man who’s been stealing from them for years. So that part of the plot was tremendously satisfying!
I also really enjoyed the romance between Maddie and Sophie. Once again, having a bisexual lead in a sapphic romance is something I feel like we need more of. Just like we can never have enough f/f period novels. But in all the Waite romances I’ve read so far (admittedly only the f/f ones) one thing that stands out for me is how deeply the heroines care for one another. It was also interesting to see Sophie having to deal with, uh, how do I put it. A libido that’s higher than strictly allowed at the time, and still remain a respectable, likeable character. No judgement.
It was also nice to see the recurring characters of Miss Narayan and Mr Frampton, as well as a quick reference to the Griffin printers. There’s clearly a link between the different books and I always enjoy seeing old favourites again.
I think I like this series most of all because of the sense of community I always get from them. It’s not just the one couple, but the people around them, who’re generally queer or accepting, who’ve got their own stories, but who stand together for the greater good, against bullies and rich white men who don’t care about others. There’s a sense of justice and right in the world, and while it may be just a fantasy, it’s perfect for a romance novel.