Her Grace’s Stable by Joely Sue Burkhart

STABLE
Her Grace’s Stable by Joely Sue Burkhart
A Jane Austen Space Opera Book 2
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (195 Pages)
Other: M/M/F, BDSM, Anal play/sex, Fetish, Spanking, Pony Play
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Foxglove

Silence is his only defense. But no truth escapes his lady’s whip.

A Jane Austen Space Opera, Book 2

Lady Violet Blackmyre, the daring “Black Duchess” of the Queen’s Light Dragoons, never thought she’d die a slow, miserable death. Yet only days after being named Field Marshal of the Britannian Army, she’s been diagnosed with consumption.

Giving Cole, her devoted stable hand and “pony”, his freedom is as easy as removing his collar. Convincing him to seek another mistress will be impossible should he learn of her condition. At all costs, she must spare him the pain of witnessing her demise.

Cole will not be pushed away so easily. When he stumbles across a magnificent “stallion” being abused at an illegal human auction, he is sure this wild, untamed brute is the challenge that will re-engage his mistress’s interest.

Arthur is desperate to return to the Iberian front, but betrayal and relentless torture have left him unable to trust himself with a weapon, much less lead soldiers into battle. What’s more, Lady Blackmyre’s dreadful secret is becoming more obvious by the day…and the scourge tearing at her lungs may not be natural at all.

Her Grace’s Stable is the long awaited follow up to Joely Sue Burkhart’s first erotic steam punk novel, Lady Doctor Wyre, and it was worth the wait.

The Black Duchess of the Queen’s Royal Dragoons, Lady Violet Blackmyre, has succeeded in being named Field Marshal of the Britannian Army, a high honor in the land. Shortly after, she is diagnosed with consumption, with no future except a slow and lingering death to look forward to. Deciding to get her affairs in order, she gives her devoted stable hand and ‘pony’ Cole his freedom. But Cole refuses to leave his mistress, and when he rescues a magnificent but abused ‘stallion’, bringing him to Lady Blackmyre’s stables, Violet is determined to save the handsome but silent man and, hopefully, show him that he can be what he was meant to be, without the torture he has been subjected to. At first, Arthur is determined to ignore Violet and Cole and the roles played out in the stable, but as time goes on, he sees that there is caring and affection behind everything the mistress does. When the Queen visits with Lady Blackmyre, it is revealed that her illness is not, in fact, naturally caused, and there is a way to restore Blackmyre to health, catch the traitor who has been trying to undermine the Queen’s rule, and help Arthur accept who he is, Blackmyre accepts the assignment and all it entails. Can Cole and Blackmyre save Arthur, and convince him to stay at Her Grace’s Stables? Will the guilty party be revealed? Can these three people find a happy solution for them all?

I like visiting this alternate reality in space created by Ms. Burkhart, and enjoy the role reversal that is so well depicted, with the women in charge in battle or in the home, and the men are the more domesticated ones. The characters in this are all very strong and determined, and as with all of Ms. Burkhart’s people, multifaceted and charismatic. I will say up front, this is not for everyone, but those who enjoy challenge and something new and unusual, this is a delightful, if darkly erotic, treat.

Lady Violet Blackmyre is strong, determined and ready to face death, but only on her terms. She wants to free her ‘pony’ Cole, but he is having none of it. When she sees the man, the magnificent ‘stallion’ that Cole has rescued, she is determined to help him as much as she can before she becomes too weak to be of any help. I like Lady Blackmyre’s spirit, her honesty and her sense of fair play in her life. I enjoyed watching as she was able to ‘gentle’ Arthur, showing him kindness and discipline at the same time.

Cole, Lady Blackmyre’s favorite ‘pony’ is charming, generous and shows an inner strength when he fights for what he wants. I like that he refuses to be freed from the stable, and is determined to keep his place at Lady Blackmyre’s side, without knowing about her illness and the toll it is taking. I like that he risked himself to help another man, not for any reward, but because of the injustice and cruelty he saw being aimed at Arthur.

Arthur is determined to remain separate and hold on to his sense of shame at what was done to him, and at the desires inside that he feels make him wrong. Arthur is strong, handsome and everything a ‘stallion’ should be. I enjoyed watching and Cole and Lady Blackmyre sneaked past his defenses, and showed him the truth of his possibilities and how to handle what he was feeling. I liked Arthur’s stubborn streak, his determination to not speak at all, thinking as long as he was silent, he was in charge of his own destiny.

There are several court intrigues in this one, with surprising villains behind the evil doings and the ways in which the Queen and Lady Blackmyre handle things is not at all what I expected. As with any Joely Sue Burkhart, the tension rises to unbearable heights before the characters finally come together in an epic explosion of passion. This is not for everyone, but for the adventurous reader who likes some kink and altered reality with their romance, this one will catch and hold the attention quite nicely.

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