My Rating: ⭐️⭐️1/2
Title: Lady Hotspur
Author: Tessa Gratton
Format: eBook (NetGalley)
Publication Date: January 7, 2020
Categories: Adult Fantasy, LGBTIA+, Shakespeare Henry IV Retelling, Romance, Political Intrigue
Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**
Inspired by Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Lady Hotspur continues the saga of Innis Lear, centuries later, as revolution, love, and a betrayal corrupt the descendants of two warring kingdoms.
Hal was once a knight, carefree and joyous, sworn to protect her future queen Banna Mora. But after a rebellion led by her own mother, Caleda, Hal is now the prince of Lionis, heir to the throne. The pressure of her crown and bloody memories of war plague her, as well as a need to shape her own destiny, no matter the cost.
Lady Hotspur, known as the Wolf of Aremoria for her temper and warcraft, never expected to be more than a weapon. She certainly never expected to fall in love with the fiery Hal or be blindsided by an angry Queen’s promise to remake the whole world in her own image—a plan Hotspur knows will lead to tragedy.
Banna Mora kept her life, but not her throne. Fleeing to Innis Lear to heal her heart and plot revenge, the stars and roots of Innis Lear will teach her that the only way to survive a burning world is to learn to breathe fire.
These three women, together or apart, are the ones who have the power to bring the once-powerful Aremoria back to life—or destroy it forever.
Thank you to Tor Books and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.
Did I request this book based on the cover? Uh, definite yes. I love the cover and the book blurb caught my interest too. Now, this is a companion novel to Tessa Gratton’s book, The Queens of Innis Lear which I never read. The book summary also says this is a loose retelling of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, which I never read also.
It took me a week to read this book. A week! Each time I read it, I was like, I’m only at 10%? Are you kidding me? So when I searched the title on Goodreads and saw it was a 592 page book, it made sense why I felt like I was getting nowhere in this story.
The story is told through three main perspectives: Hal, Hotspur and Banna Mora. These three were a tight crew of Lady Knights who fought under King Rovassos until they rebelled and helped put Hal’s mother, the kings niece, on the throne. The first half of this story is set in Aremoria. The second half of this story takes place in Innis Lear and there we have a chapters from Rowan and Connelly. Later on we get a few other chapter perspectives from Charm.
This is a gender bent story where Dukes, Earls, Princes, and Kings are female. The story is centered around Hal, Hotspur and Banna Mora as they try to decide who is the true ruler of Aremoria and if the prophecies about these three women will come true.
- The gender bending aspect is awesome. Kings in Aremoria can be female. The women in Aremoria, especially the Lady Knights are bad ass soldiers, they love to fight, took pride in their leadership (well Hal had some issues) and fighting skills!
- My heart is in Innis Lear. Aremoria felt like a regular kingdom, nothing special, but Innis Lear and it’s magic? I was immersed in that world. I liked when Hal, Hotspur, and Banna Mora who are battle ready soldiers, step into this magical land and start hearing nature all around them. Innis Lear has witches, wizards, prophecies, and ghosts even! The world building was fantastic.
- This book is female infused all around, from the passionate lesbian relationship between Hal and Hotspur and yes there is sex in this book, lots of it actually. Hal and Hotspur’s relationship burns so fast and hard that it’s sad when it falls apart, but Hal had some issues to work through.
- Out of all three women: Hal, Hotspur and Banna Mora – Banna Mora’s story kept my attention more maybe because she blossoms on Innis Lear. Hal’s story arc has the most change in it though because she’s the life of the party but she hides behind her charming smile. Hal doesn’t believe in herself and she’s suffering from PTSD and drowns in her misery until she turns things around. As for Hotspur, she is the one in the middle of the two and must make some hard choices.
- This book is long at almost 600 pages and the pacing constantly threw me off. It would be slow (the beginning) and then I’d be interested in a character, but then the perspective would change, then I’d lose interested again, and I’d put it down. It took me a week to read this! I almost gave up on it. The writing also would be rushed and abrupt and then it would be beautiful especially when it came to describing Innis Lear. I just felt like it didn’t flow well in some parts.
- Hal, Hotspur and Banna Mora had to make political marriages…to men. Sigh…so I was all about the lesbian, feminist take of this book and then they had to have sex with men and I was like…🤷🏻♀️. REALLY? Banna Mora had Rowan so I mean, go her…but Hal and Hotspur who are so in love had to do their royal duties. 😒 Obviously it’s royal politics and things work out in the end though, but still.
- I wasn’t attached to any character. The trio of Hal, Hotspur and Banna Mora is a great dynamic, two opposing characters and one in the middle who will decide the fate of everyone. But I wasn’t attached to any of them. I was team Banna Mora though if I had to pick a side. But what made them good friends? Because they were knights together? Maybe more backstory of when they were knights together would have been good to set the foundation for their story.
This book wasn’t for me, there were parts I enjoyed, especially when the story was set in Innis Lear. The world building of Innis Lear is amazing, it’s what kept me reading the story and makes me consider reading The Queens of Innis Lear. This book will not be for everyone but it did have some bright spots in it. The story has prophecy, strong women, a lesbian love story and a straight one too. But for me it was all about the magic of Innis Lear, the rest of the story fell flat for me.