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Author: J. Tullos Hennig
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Release Date: October 2014
ISBN: 9781632164384

Book 1 of The Wode
Book Genre: Fantasy Romance, GLBT, Historical Romance

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70 people found the following review helpful

Book Reviewed by Annette Gisby (author,reviewer)

[ Review Posted: Oct 15, 2015 ] - See all my reviews
I've been a Robin Hood fangirl since I was about five years old. Now, many years later, I sitll am so I snapped up the chance to review this Robin Hood book with a male/male romance.

Ms. Henning has created a wonderfully well-crafted tale based on the Robin Hood legends, but has made it uniquely her own here.

This book takes place in the years before Rob becomes Robin Hood. We get to see his childhood, his parents and his sister Marion and how childhood friendship with the local lord's son becomes something more as they get older.

Rob's family still follows the old Pagan religion, his mother is a healer and a herb wife, but some do not see that - they see a witch. Gamelyn's family is very devout Christian and as the third son with little inheritence to speak of, Gamelyn is expected to enter the Church. For years he thought that was the path that lay before him, for he had never found himself being attracted to women and didn't dally with the serving girls like his brother did.

All that changes one day when Gamelyn catches Rob and one of the stable lads at his father's castle in a lovers' tryst and Gamelyn realises that as well as the sudden arousal at their antics, he also feels jealous. Rob is just a friend, isn't he?

But the path of love doesn't run smooth for our two heroes. Gamelyn is conflicted with his faith and with his feelings for Rob and after they cement their physical attraction, Gamelyn runs, shocked and ashamed at what they did and seeks out confession with his father's chaplain, Brother Dolfin. Gamelyn is even more shocked to discover that Dolfin even knew of such things. "I come from a community of men, do you really think such things are unknown to me?"

Gamelyn struggles with his feelings for Rob, as Rob does with him. For Rob is the Hunter and expected to lie with the Maiden in the Great Marriage of Beltane, but Rob doesn't want a maiden, he never has. He always knew he liked men, but his previous encounters had felt nothing like being with Gamelyn. Being with Gamelyn feels like destiny and he will not turn away from it.

The book is passionate, sensual, romantic, filled with adventure, magic and mysticism that you want keep you reading to see what happens next. It's quite a long book, but it didn't feel long. I was so engrossed the pages just flew by. The conflict between the old and new religions was well-handled and balanced and left you thinking. The main antagonist is Gamelyn's cousin, Abbess Elisabeth, who decides Gamelyn has been bewitched by Rob and his friends and needs to be saved from himself. She does some terrible things, but she thinks she is doing what is right.

The world building is detailed, lush and descriptive and the author has a way with words that leave you breathless. You can almost feel the wind ruffle your hair, or smell the earthy scents of the greenwood. Rob and Gamelyn's love scenes are sensual and erotic without being coarse or crude and it's not so much the physical aspects as it's the emotional connection between the characters. Rob and Gamelyn were both wonderfully drawn characters, as were everyone else. Everyone had their part to play. It was an emotional roller-coaster with triumphs and tragedy.

It does end on a bit of a cliff-hanger, which I hope will be addressed in the sequel, Shire Wode. (and having a quick look at Goodreads, yes it does, yay!)

In short, it was a fantastic read and left the Robin Hood fangirl in me very happy. And the author's note mentioned various Robin Hood inspirations, including my favourite, the 80's television show, Robin of Sherwood.
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