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The Lily and the Crown – Roslyn Sinclair

Lesbian space pirate romance. Enough said.


Image: Supplied

When it comes to stories about women falling for other women, it’s easy to find excellent contemporary romances. But when you want something a little different—like, say, lesbian pirates or sci fi—you might have to dig a little to find the right book. And when you want a book with a lesbian pirate in space? Well, there aren’t many of those, but thankfully The Lily and the Crown by Roslyn Sinclair is just the book you’re looking for.


Everyone might expect the daughter of a space station commander to be haughty and unbearable, but Ariana “Ari” Geiker doesn’t even seem to notice that she’s privileged, let alone the position she holds and the power that comes with it. Instead she revels in tending the lush gardens her father has indulged her in growing in her quarters, and she uses all of her skills in botany to try to make scientific breakthroughs that could benefit humanity.


When a much older woman is brought to be Ari’s slave as a gift from her father, her life is turned upside down. The only survivor of a ship that carried the sign of the infamous pirate Mir, she’s clearly no ordinary servant. But Ari doesn’t want a slave and gives the apparently nameless woman the title of “Assistant.” Together they dig in the gardens at all hours, while Ari tries to cajole Assistant into happiness with regular trips to the station’s observatory, where Assistant pores over star charts for as long as Ari will let her.


Because Ari finds it hard to resist giving anything to Assistant that she wants, she quickly finds herself letting Assistant run the show in their shared quarters and eating meals on time, rather than forgetting while she tends to her plants. Even still, Ari is surprised to find herself seduced by Assistant, and not just once, but many times. Assistant is clearly no ordinary slave, and Ari gives her as much agency as she’s able, but can their tranquil (and super hot) existence continue the way it is?


The Lily and the Crown is a sci-fi romance that emphasizes the romance more than the sci-fi side of things. Anyone who’s watched Star Wars or Star Trek will find it easy to imagine the settings within the novel, since most of it takes place in a space station or a spaceship. And because the romance between Ari and Assistant is most prominent, it’s one you might want to try even if science fiction isn’t something you’d normally pick up.


Readers who particularly enjoy age gap stories or thawing ice queens won’t want to miss this story. Ari is a gentle, introverted soul who finds true joy in botany, as she communes with the trees, plants, and insects that thrive in her quarters. A woman who can grow the most delicate of specimens in space is a natural match for one as guarded and prickly as Assistant. However, she’s been so sheltered all her life that Ari has a naivety that is both cute and kind of hilarious, as she manages to never figure out who Assistant really is, even as the reader is given all the necessary cues to piece it together pretty quickly. Ari is pulled under the force of Assistant’s brilliance and her dominant nature, and as she thaws Assistant, Ari also grows stronger as a result of the older woman’s presence in her life.


Even before it was published, The Lily and the Crown was well known to many because it was a popular Devil Wears Prada fanfic story (whose author also wrote the greatest DWP fanfic of all time, Truth and Measure). Roslyn Sinclair did a fabulous job of reworking her fanfic piece by expanding it significantly, spending more time developing the characters, and turning it into an original story that’s impossible to put down. The worldbuilding is solid, the characters are compelling and drawn well, their romance is satisfying, the sex writing is sizzling hot, and the story is masterfully paced. If you want to give one lesbian sci-fi romance a try this spring, this is the one to pick up.


Publisher: Ylva Publishing


Tara Scott is a regular reviewer at The Lesbian Review and you can hear her talk about lesbian fiction on her podcast Les Do Books.

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