Still catching up on my review backlog.
Agnes Moor’s Wild Knight by Alyssa Cole (self published?, 2014)
When I was reading Bernadette Andrea’s The Lives of Girls and Women from the Islamic World in Early Modern British Literature and Culture, I spotted a reference to Elen More, a black woman in the early 16th century Scottish court, and instantly realized, OMG, that’s the inspiration for that story I saw among Alyssa Cole’s publications! And then the chance of spotting the ebook on sale led me to pick it up, because I loved Cole’s story in the collection Hamilton’s Battalion.
So...this is not at all a criticism of Agnes Moor's Wild Knight itself, but it was a useful calibration of what my tolerance is regarding the ratio of story to sex in historical fiction. This is a relatively short novella. The writing is technically excellent and the history is solidly portrayed. The depiction of the experience of a black woman in 16th century Britain felt solid and nuanced. But structurally, the story felt like it had just barely enough world-building to justify setting up the sex scenes. And since I wasn’t there for the sex scenes, I didn’t get my story fix. It isn’t at all a criticism of the story because clearly there are a lot of readers who are looking for exactly this sort of balance. But it’s not for me and I’ve adjusted my buy-reflexes accordingly.