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The world of the Horse Mistress is vivid and engaging. It is set in a world similar to Britain of the Druids at the time of the Roman invasion. It concerns three main characters who find each other, and against all odds fall in love and become the best versions of themselves.
Our characters are Carivel, the titular Horse Mistress, who has been living as a man so she can do the job she loves. It’s not just a story of cross dressing as she has always felt that she was born in the wrong body. Andoc is the warrior, who contrary to many warrior stereotypes, is kind and nurturing. Senovo is the eunuch priest who resents his forced castration at the hand of slavers and fears the wolf that is the other side of him that comes out in times of stress.
As the collection begins, our characters are thrown together because of a devastating attack on their village that leaves them in positions of new authority. Through the set of four novels, they must learn to cooperate both personally and professionally with each other. They do everything they can to make sure they invading empire doesn’t take over their island. They also navigate the tricky waters of having a three-person relationship built on communication and true feelings for each other.
I was very impressed with Steffan’s writing because the quality is consistent and very good. She writes about a poly trio that is believable. This isn’t about a ménage that is sex just for sex’s sake. The sex that is one the page (and, yes, there is a lot of it) or the BDSM serves a character-based purpose and propels the story forward. It also happens to be really hot.
The fantasy setting for this story is very approachable. The characters feel real and familiar without being directly from out history. It would be kind to those readers who aren’t yet sure if they want to give the fantasy genre a shot.
As for the narration, Gwendolyn Druyor is wonderfully gifted. I do most of my book consumption through audiobooks, so I have heard many performances from big name narrators to those with only a few indie titles. Druyor did a few things with this 1st person narration that I just hadn’t heard other performers do. For example, when Carivel finds things funny even in her narrative bits, Druyor’s voice subtly shifts so we imagine a laugh could follow at any second. When recounting a different character’s dialogue, if the person is yawning, we hear that. If the person is eating or has something in his mouth, we hear that, too. Druyor brings the sounds of life to this audio and makes it compelling and engaging because of it.
I definitely recommend both this author and this narrator. The series was an unexpected find that is full of action, adventure, humor, pathos, and blistering scenes of intimacy. The audio performance makes it that much better. I plan on seeking out their individual works in the future, and I suspect they may work together again on the connected Lion Mistress series set in the same world.
A content note: This complete collection has an epilogue short story that isn’t available anywhere else. If you are going to go through the trouble of reading or listening to any of the novels in this set, do yourself a favor and buy the complete collection. You save money and get more content. Win-win for all.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this audiobook from the author in exchange for an honest review.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
This will not be everyone's cup of tea. If you are open minded and you can really get to know and understand these characters. The entire book was written well. While there is graphic sex that sex is not the point of the book. Even with all sex was removed or played down this is an unusual and beautiful story of love and self acceptance.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful