Thank you to Sierra Simone and her team for the advance reader copy of Villain I’d Like to F… This review will specifically cover The Conquering of Tate the Pious, Sierra’s contribution to this anthology.
Another sapphic short story from Sierra Simone. Damn, she is so good at writing hot stories, steeped in the grandeur of a historical setting.
I am a Sierra Simone review team member, but I remain honest and genuine in my reviews.
England is burning with Norman fires, and Tate—the youngest ever abbess of Far Hope Abbey—is determined to guard the abbey’s ancient secrets with her very life. Her life may be what it takes, however, for a Norman warlord known only as The Wolf is pillaging his way right to the abbey’s doors. But when The Wolf arrives, Tate finds not the brutal warrior she was expecting, but his even more brutal widow in his place, a cruel and beautiful woman who leads her dead husband’s men with a ferocity to rival that of her Viking ancestors. And after she sets eyes on Tate, it becomes clear that gold and silver aren’t the only things The Wolf wants to carry off into the night…
Check out my more detailed thoughts below…
- Characters: Abbess Tate is in charge of Far Hope Abbey, she was put in charge recently as their numbers dwindled and she was the healthiest nun to lead the abbey. She is brave, headstrong, and loyal; going out of her way to protect Far Hope. This character really surprised me, meaning she was a lot more varied than expected. Do not be fooled by Tate’s pious label, she has some secrets that will shake up how you feel about her. So, Tate sacrifices herself to the clutches of the Wolf. All the characters in the story make the reader thinks we are meeting a man, instead, she is a ruthless widow. Such an intriguing character; one cannot but have empathy for this character and all the secrets she must keep.
- Setting: We pick up with Tate and the Wolf as the Normans are invading England, the year is 1068 and we are just a few years away from the conclusion of the Norman conquest. This was such a unique setting! As a history degree holder, I am always a sucker for a historical setting. As this time period is nowhere near my specialty I find nothing to critique, so it was pure enjoyment for me and will be for many others. Sierra did such a good job of weaving in historical elements of the Norman conquest, even historical figures are small parts of this larger wlw love story. Fans of Sierra’s previous work will feel the Thornchapel vibes throughout this, and if you love Sierra’s other historical series such as Markham Hall.
- Pacing: My small complaint with this story was the pacing. I found this short story lagged in spots. It felt on the longer side for a short story. But instead of this just flushing out the romance, I found I lost focus and was not encouraged to escape away into the story. I often read at a manic pace, this took me many days to read and it is not very long. If you like your short stories on the longer side you will really enjoy this.
- Romance: I enjoyed the love story between Tate and Adelais, an enemies-to-lovers romance in a time period where largely no woman would have sought a coupling that fulfilled them. Tate and Adelais were finally getting the love and companionship they deserved. Plus this book is super hot, these characters have such great chemistry and not a single romantic scene disappoints. I love the most that they bonded over being morally grey, and how they had to deal with what was dealt to them in a world everchanging and riddled with upheaval and violence.