Cover Image: The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows

The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows

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Member Reviews

DNF. When I requested this book I was reading and enjoying a lot of historical romance but over the past couple years my tastes have changed and I’m more into contemporary at this time. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review.
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This book doesn't take itself as seriously as The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics, but that did not stop me from enjoying it. 

The main conflict has to do with a contentious will and a corrupt church official's escalating retribution which results in a caper that made me smile, until the consequences were revealed. Still, Penelope's solution to interrupt the punishment was masterful.

If I am honest, the two Agatha and Penelope's love story was merely okay, but not what kept me turning the pages. It was the secondary characters and their struggles that made this one a memorable read.

As a f/f I would have probably given it a two-star rating, but there is more to this book and I took this into consideration when chosing my rating.
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Overall: 3.5 rounded to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Plot/Storyline: 📖📖📖📖
Feels: 🦋🦋🦋
Emotional Depth: 💔💔💔
Tension: ⚡⚡⚡
Romance: 💞💞💞💞
Sensuality: 💋💋💋💋
Intimate Scene Length: 🍑🍑🍑🍑
Steam Scale (Number of Scenes): 🔥🔥🔥
Humor: Just a bit

Should I read in order?
I did not read the first book and this one is absolutely perfect as a place to dive in. I don’t think the first couple is mentioned in this story?

Basic plot
Agatha finds a swarm of bees in her work area and she is introduced to Penelope. They develop a friendship that slowly evolves into more.

Give this a try if you want:
- Regency time period – story begins in spring of 1820
- There is a small period of letters exchanged between the two mains that I thought was extremely sweet and touching
- Older heroines – I believe Agatha is 45 but I didn’t catch Penelope’s age
- Slow burn, medium steam – You have to wait forever to get it, but when Waite brings it, it’s hot
- F/F romance
- Working women – one runs a printing press and one is a beekeeper
- A touch of forbidden love and heaviness – the society structures of the time, judgement, marriage laws are a factor in their relationship
- A bit of a grumpy/sunshine feel

My thoughts:
I’m so conflicted about this book! There was so much emotional punch and sweetness, hot sex, and important and heartbreaking issues dealt with. But there was also a lot I didn’t need or want.

I loved the aspect of bee keeping. How fun is that! And I thought the printing press was also quite interesting. Our heroine’s had such love and understand for their careers and it gave them extra depth to their characters. The letters exchanged between our heroines were my favorite parts. The worry of what to put on paper and the uncertainty of how it will be received in the first blush of a relationship. As an introvert that has strengthened many bonds solely through written text to others, I really loved this.

I’m not a huge fan of outside plot filled books. I love the focus to be on the relationship and in this one, there was kind of a lot of other stuff going on. I will say the heroines were together for much of the book so that was a big plus for me too.

There was kind of a strange side plot related to the exiled queen returning that I really had no interest in and could have done without.

It’s very much a slow burn and you’ll be waiting until after 70% of the book for even a kiss. There is a lot of wanting, longing, thinking of each other and wondering, waiting, analyzing all the little touches that prelude physical intimacy that was nicely done. 

I’m glad I read I read this one even though it wasn’t a favorite for me. And I would definitely try another by Waite in the future. (This was my first by her)
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After a somewhat slow start, I ended up enjoying this one even more than the first book in this series. The story expertly unfolds to make us understand and sympathize with both Agatha and Penelope. It was a pleasure to see their friendship bloom into romance. I also really enjoyed the secondary characters in this book and how their stories interwove with Agatha’s and Penelope’s. A lot of heteronormative ideals are challenged in a very gentle way, which I thought worked really well, from the main romantic arc to the secondary ones — for example, Agatha has to work to overcome her preconceptions about marriage and the pressure she puts on her son to marry her apprentice, Eliza. In addition to getting her own HEA with Penelope, part of the story’s HEA is Agatha turning over the London shop to her son and Eliza, recognizing their partnership as it stands, without marriage. And for all that this story was a quiet romance, there are some nail-biting moments — Penelope has a particularly badass moment where she defends her husband John from an angry mob and the village’s prejudiced, homophobic vicar. The HEA is beautifully executed as both women not only grow to love each other, but grow as stronger and self-aware people. I'm looking forward to what Olivia Waite writes next!
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Thank you for the review copy. I really love Olivia Waite. This book was spectacular. I am sharing Olivia's writing in a future podcast episode.
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This was a true treasure of a read and I found it charming, sweet and so uniquely written. The style of writing that this author display is so beautifully penned. I honestly haven't read this style of writing before and it was a plus to see that it was true in this book as it was in the first book. I honestly don't read too much f/f romance and I definitely need to be in the right mood for it to truly work for me. But I was delighted to see that this book I found to be educational, although it contained some modernisms, it didn't bother me like it does with other authors. She really makes it feel more genuine and real to me. I am highly impressed with this author and what she has been able to create and highly recommend to others.
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Another stunner by Olivia Waite. This time featuring two older women learning about their chance to be free to be the people they want to be, unbeholden to society, and set in the same world as The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics, this book was a comfort and joy to read.
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This book took FOREVER to go anywhere and I think there was just too much going on.  I loved the first book in the series but as much as Agatha and Phoebe were a great couple and I loved their story, I think all the sub plots took away from their relationship and made me less interested.  The sex scenes were FIRE but the political commentary was too much for me and it makes me sad to say that.  Will still happily continue to read the series and this author but this is not my favorite entry.
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This book was so entertaining. I was drawn into the story from the beginning and was involved until the end. The characters were complex and interesting. I found the story to be well paced and engrossing throughout the whole book. I was invested in the couple throughout the book and felt all the emotions through both the highs and lows of the story.The side characters were such an integral part of this story as well. This is the love story i needed to read at this time. If you want an entertaining and well written book this is it for you
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Unfortunately, I've decided to DNF this book. It was much too slow for my particular taste when it comes to romance. I felt like it could have used some editing down, especially in the moments where the reader is told the specific details of beekeeping and running a printing business back in this era. To some, that may be interesting but I went into this book looking for a romance which I still hadn't seen even an ounce of 40% of the way through. I understand a slow burn but this was somehow even slower.
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Olivia Waite has a talent for weaving historical timelines into her novels. This novel is so much more than your average historical romance. Waite builds intricate settings against the backdrop of political uncertainty.  The characters are thoroughly developed and have a full life outside of the romance. Because of how much Waite packs into a novel, it is lengthy. She takes her time building the novel bit by bit, but it's always worth it in the end.
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Oh be still my gay heart! Historical F/F romances are absolutely my favorite thing right now, and this one did not disappoint. The relationship was so cute! I am so glad that this is becoming a more popular subgenre.
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So I hate petty dictators in books and this one has one so up front that was a negative for me. 

The writing just like Waite's other Feminine Pursuits title was excellent. I loved that the characters were older women! We need more of those! The characters really pulled the story along so having well written, likeable characters was important to the book. The plot outside of their relationship was meh but the story focuses in on their relationship enough that it didn't bother me as much as it might in other stories.
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Olivia Waite writes lovely historical romances with believable, strong characters that represent interesting facets of society, such as beekeeping. The level of detail makes the novels enjoyable. This story was intriguing (I found myself looking up information regarding apiaries and beekeepers) and the sincerity of the characters and their lives and loves had me cheering for their relationship.
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Widow Agatha Griffin has got a lot on her plate trying to keep her deceased husband’s publishing company with higher taxes from radical publishers like her son. When she finds a swarm of bees in her warehouse, it’s the last thing she needs. Seeking the consult of a friend, Penelope Flood is recommended to come handle the bee issue. Penelope exists between two worlds, and when the exiled Queen returns to England, so does Penelope’s husband, and she’s torn between her growing feelings for Agatha, and the man who gave her refuge.

This wasn’t a bad romance book by a long shot, but I just couldn’t get into it. I never became as endeared to the characters as I’d hoped. I always root for the romantic leads, but I wasn’t super into their stories. I did enjoy the last quarter of the book, though, and appreciated Penelope’s divided loyalties and her duty to those she loves.

Overall, a pretty typical bodice ripper. If you’re looking for a historical romance that’s not straight and is set in the less glamorous times of London, definitely give this one a shot. It’s one of an ongoing series, so there should be more at some point.
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The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widow follows a village beekeeper, Penelope, and Agatha. She’s the love interest (wags eyebrows). They meet because, as in all the fun romances, things get chaotic when two love birds meet.

Sometimes, I get the sense as a Queer romance reader that I’m always expected to love every f/f romance (particular to historicals since that’s often what I love to read *sigh romance*). Some books have pacing problems. That's definitely this one, I'm sorry to report. The difficulty is that sometimes being Sapphic is not being able to find more books like this out there. Publishing, and a lot of other authors writing queer romance, like to believe that there’s a lot of sapphic romance if they write one or two once in a while. There’s not, though. I feel sorta bad this isn’t higher than a three star for me. The romance and the chemistry is kind of a dud for me? I just…kinda expect that there be chemistry. Obviously it worked better for other readers but I tend to like slow burns that actually do something with the tension between two characters.

My criticism is that some authors seem to confuse bad pacing with slow burn. That slow build up of getting to know each other. I would like that to have been in here but the pacing and lack of tension killed it for me. Mainly, the problem with this is that it is not as tight in its plotting and the author is weaving through sub-plots too much. Ultimately, it’s fine but kind of boring and not a real slow burn.
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When Agatha Griffin finds a colony of bees in her warehouse, it’s the not-so-perfect ending to a not-so-perfect week. Busy trying to keep her printing business afloat amidst rising taxes and the suppression of radical printers like her son, the last thing the widow wants is to be the victim of a thousand bees.
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In The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows, Penelope is her village beekeeper, tending the hives. Meanwhile, printer Agatha lives in London but has a press in Penelope's town, and the two meet when bees invade part of Agatha's press. This historical was beautifully written, and it read like a true historical. So many historical romances have characters with extremely contemporary viewpoints, or outlandish plots. This one seemed very much of its time - the characters are concerned with what is happening with the King and Queen, and the sedition laws get people into very real trouble. I had read that this was a low angst read before going into it, and while there wasn't much angst in the romance, I was quite stressed at times when reading. I was worried about the queer characters and their intolerant neighbors, I was worried about those sedition laws, and I was worried about the very real tumult of the times. Despite that, I felt that Waite really gave me a satisfying ending - the characters have all grown, and while the times haven't changed, they're able to find their places. I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to going back to read the first in the series.
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I loved this book so much. I was already primed to love it, because A Lady's Guide is one of the best historical lesbian romances I've ever read. But this one, this was beautiful and it got lesbian rep completely right. I loved that the main characters are older (being older myself). I love that it wasn't a coming out for either of them. I love that they notice each other's competence and also older, lived in bodies and find those qualities sexy. I KNOW these women. And I love them. So thank you, Olivia Waite. Thank you thank you thank you.
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This sweet and slow moving romance between two women in their 40s is a low-angst read. I loved the Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics, but the overlap between the two books is minimal. I think this would work as a standalone. 

Warm, easygoing Penelope is equally comfortable in men's and women's clothes and is much more attractive than she appears on this cover. Agatha is a pragmatic widow who didn't notice she was lonely until she befriends her local beekeeper, and discovers trousers are mighty comfortable. Both women have had previous relationships with other women, so this isn't a coming out story, which I loved. But as they start to build a friendship while tending hives together, they get to play the age-old game of figuring out if the woman they want, also wants them back. 

I have to admit, I found the beekeeping scenes exceptionally boring. Apparently I am a horrible person who just wants to eat honey, enjoy a well-pollinated garden, and not read about how to make those things happen. Even women moaning while taste-testing honey is apparently not enough to get me excited about bees. 

However, I enjoyed the cozy scenes of village life, and Penelope's circle of friends, and the backdrop of historical politics.
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