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Sugar & Spice by Sarah Sanders

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ This one is super short, super cute and super hot. Princess Aurora has just been formally made the Crown Princess of her c...

The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows by Olivia Waite


⭐⭐⭐⭐☆

This is a brilliantly written slow burn historical romance that uses facts to effectively give social and historical context to fiction.

Agatha Griffin has been widowed for three years. Her marriage was one of harmony and love. While her husband was alive, the couple ran a printing business which she is now managing alone and trying her best to get her teenaged son interested in. Her son is however more interested in rebellion and change which makes Agatha extremely nervous.

Agatha has a press in London and one in the town of Melliton, where her mother-in-law lives. On a visit to the Melliton press, Agatha finds a part of the warehouse colonised by bees. On her mother-in-law’s recommendation, Agatha sets off in search of Penelope Flood to deal with the bees.

Penelope is a merchant’s daughter with a whole lot of brothers who’ve moved out of the village. She lives in the family home by herself while her husband, a sailor, is away for years at end. Penelope has a steady income and also a gift with bees, so besides her own hives, she helps other beekeepers around town.

Flood helps Griffin with her problem and promises to look after the resettled hive and keep Griffin updated. Thus starts an unlikely connection between the two women.

The story is set in 1820s and the whole drama between King George and Queen Caroline forms important context. The environment of suppression of women and the social acceptance and expectation of a ‘woman’s place’ is written so well that you can practically feel it.

There are a lot of characters – practically an entire village – and each individual has their own personality and depth. Most characters are depicted as ordinary folk not wanting to upset the apple cart too much. But they aren’t complete doormats either and do thumb their nose at insufferable authority figures whenever they can while making sure that they do not face repercussions. More heroism would’ve been nice, but since history is such an important part of the story, guess Waite didn’t want to particularly change that.

The romance between Agatha and Flood is mostly pining for each other and keeping their feelings in check for propriety. But the connection and chemistry is unmissable. Whether spending time traversing the town taking care of hives, or their letters to each other, or just being a part of each other’s lives and thoughts – the relationship is beautifully built. Once they confess their feelings, however, the relationship moves at a sonic pace, including one graphically lush sex scene.

This is a great read which we strongly recommend.
⭐⭐⭐⭐☆


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