Dear Ms. Hart,
Hallelujah you’ve published something again. After reading, and enjoying, “The Forest Whispers” and “The Assassin’s Blade” two years ago, I’d almost given up on seeing anything anything else from you. I was a very happy person when I saw this newest story out.
Mali lives in a primitive world where mere survival is a challenge. Over the years, something has affected the fertility of not only the land but the people as well. Any woman who can possibly conceive is obligated to attempt it with any man available to act as a breeder. Mali’s problem is that there are no more men in her village capable of it. When a stranger is captured and dragged there, she’s insulted when he acts insulted to be offered the chance. Instead of jumping at the honor, he has to be chained down for her to attempt to take his seed. Not that she’s much good at it since she’s never had any experience.
Things go from bad to worse when the village elders discover who he is and decide to kill him. Thinking it’s a worse crime to execute this man than face any possible retaliation from him, Mali decides to free him. She has no idea what she’s letting herself in for or how it will completely change her life.
I think “Breeder” more closely resembles “The Assassin’s Blade.” The heroine is more a pawn of those around her and subject to the will of a powerful man than the kick-ass heroine of “The Forest Whispers.” Not that Mali is a weak character but she’s got far less autonomy. She also spends a lot of the book in a flustered state and reacting rather than proactive.
The first half of the story is very descriptive and I got a good feel for the world you were creating. However, when the action changes place, I got a little lost and didn’t think I had as good a grasp on the new people or places. In addition, Jaegar almost completely disappears as the narrative focuses on Mali and her reactions. It makes for some poignant scenes for her but I found his excuse for leaving her alone to be lame. I do like the way you ended the story (ie not everything is all sunshine and harmony for Mali) and that after you gave him the nickname, Jaegar the Ruthless, you actually made him (in certain instances) ruthless. I did have some problems with the editing. There were a few dropped words and in one place, the ruler of the area states that he’s there to “bring the area to heal.” Shouldn’t this be “to heel?”
So, while I’m glad to see you back in the authorial saddle, “Breeder” won’t overtake my favorite story of yours. B- for it.