Hearts of Steel features LBGTQA+ characters in a fantasy setting. All of the stories are complete and there are many standouts. Like I do with all Anthologies I read, I’ll break my review down into each story.
The Queen’s Dragon Rider - Cora Walker - I’m not sure I would have started the anthology with this one. It’s a clean lesbian fantasy that is bigger on the fantasy than the romance elements. This story in particular had several editing errors that made it into publication and the ending is a bit abrupt. I liked Tess, Merryn, and Aria. 3 stars.
The Silent Knight - Avery Stiles - This story has the best POV character in the book. Loran is funny, interesting, and all around great. The use of a mute character was great. The romance is sort of pre-polyamorous romance with more of the focus on character growth/plot. I would have liked to have seen more with Farris (the third). Basically I liked the characters and wished this story was longer… maybe the trio facing the repercussions for the mission gone wrong? 4 stars.
To Tame a Dragon - Christina DZA Marie - I really liked this story featuring a female knight who has to hide her gender and a shapeshifter who has to hide their true nature. The symbolism was spot on and I was very satisfied with both the love story and the fantasy story. 5 stars.
Blackberries and Buckthorn - TS Porter - A knight and her companions must escort their ruler’s daughter home which is more dangerous than it sounds. To say I loved this story would be an understatement. It is the best story in the anthology with well-rounded characters and even side characters. The romance made sense, even in the face of some twists. 5 stars.
The Heartless Knight - Heather Morris - This story features the lone asexual character in the anthology. While the main character is well-developed. The story itself needed more oomph. 3 stars.
Ser Rae of Del - B.A. Huntley - This story has an almost fairytale quality to it. While it could have used a better editor, it was still fun and well done. The twist was predictable, but that didn’t make it less satisfying. 4 stars.
A Shieldmaiden’s Vow - Helena Maeve - The other polyamorous story in the group. It was a bit confusing in parts. Especially the beginning and the ending featured a huge WTF moment. I wasn’t terribly fond of the characters. 3 stars.
In all, there are a few authors I will happily check out more of their works on and this is a good taste of some up-and-coming authors.
***I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley
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