Reviewing: A Lady’s Desire by Lily Maxton

Content warnings: Homophobia, period-typical sexism, parental disowning

My Rating: 4 out of 5 books


  • Just gals being pals
  • Scientific lesbians are my favourite lesbians 
  • Okay one of them is bisexual let’s not ignore that I love the scientific bisexuals too
  • Science is sexy
  • And so are ladies
  • Friends to lovers is just so pure
  • Idiots in love
  • The patriarchy can get fucked

“I don’t think anyone’s ever died from too much happiness. Or too much love. We’ll just have to accept a little more of both.”

I love a good dose of historical sapphism, this is not news. Another entry for last year’s Heaving Bosoms Reading Embrace, A Lady’s Desire by Lily Maxton neatly ticked the ‘Sherlock Holmes Times’ box by being frightfully Victorian. In this lovely novella we meet Lady Sarah Lark and her former friend Winifred Wakefield. I say former because Winifred married Sarah’s cousin and Sarah hated this for reasons and they stopped talking until said cousin kicked the bucket. RIP Sarah’s cousin. His name was Gregory, and when he died he had no money so Winifred moved in with his family.

Oh no, what a travesty, she has to live with Sarah. 

Technically a novella in a series, this book works just fine as a stand alone which is excellent because I haven’t read the others, and I’ve made the mistake of reading a book out of context before (looking at you The Strange Casebook). I liked this one a fair bit so who knows, I may read the others. I make no promises because I can physically feel the relentless presence of my giant TBR but it’s a distinct possibility! 

One of my favourite things in queer romances is when one of the love interests is very dumb and doesn’t realise why they’re very grumpy if the other has a partner. I mean when it’s done well and doesn’t smack you in the face like certain books (inc. link to trapped) do. Sarah is the perfect example of big dumb gay idiot in love. Winifred is her friend not Gregory’s, so when he starts courting her and they get married she is distinctly displeased and unable to cope with things she doesn’t even know she wants to say. She tries to let the friendship between them die off so this weird uncomfortable feeling (which totally isn’t jealousy) can go away, and distracts herself by befriending a lovely entomologist named Eleanor and throwing herself into forming a scientific community welcoming to the fairer sex. I had just listened to the Ologies episode on Entomology when I read this so I was very chuffed I understood the word without further explanation or research. Turns out bugs are pretty rad. 

Can I just take a moment to appreciate the recent trend in historical romances, specifically queer romances, in acknowledging the fact that women were actively kept from scientific fields for literally forever and that the world may have suffered a loss of incredible discoveries and research as a result? Because of course our delicate lady brains can’t cope with the big manly science ideas. Fuck. That. 

It is my life goal to read all the books about forgotten female minds throughout history. Welcoming all recommendations. 

This novella made me happy, because at its heart it is about love and the strength that can be drawn from it. How some things we cannot control, but others we can and sometimes that strength is what helps us do so. Same sex love is just love, it is no more or less valiable than heterosexual love. Winifred’s marriage is not devalued or diminished by her love for Sarah, she was happy with her husband for what time they had, but she loves Sarah deeply. As always with novellas I craved that little bit more detail and depth a full-length novel would offer, but this was an excellent quick read that just injected a little happiness into my day and I would recommend to any historical romance fans! 

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