Book Review: The Dream Hunter by Laura Kinsale

I love historical romance novels. If you come at me with any type of literary or cultural snobbery whatsoever (music, movie, TV, etc.), I will laugh you off as a pedestrian rube. And if you are a man and not reading historical romance novels, you are missing out on a trove of knowledge—sexual and otherwise; that and you are sexist—hashtag men are trash.

I ain’t kidding.

Historical romance novels gave me a wealth of female cultural knowledge and education (especially sex) that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. They also taught me feminism in the most nuanced of ways. I owe these authors much; authors like Laura Kinsale, Judith McNaught, Johanna Lindsey, Daphne du Maurier, Beverly Jenkins, Heather Graham, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, Amanda Quick, Elizabeth Lowell, Brenda Joyce, Lisa Kleypas, Teresa Medeiros, Julie Garwood, Julia Quinn, Courtney Milan, Joanna Bourne, Sarah MacLean, Tessa Dare, Madeline Hunter, etc.

Besides Ms. Beverly Jenkins, the historical romance canon in the 80s was horrifyingly white and heteronormative and problematic. Publishers have only recently understood their stupidity at how very horrendous it all was and is. As a long-time fan and after years of demanding better, I’m extremely glad and thankful that the publishing arena realized their systemically biased canon was culturally diminished (that’s the kindest way I can put it without going full-on rage mode) and have promised to do better.

We will hold them to that promise.

Laura Kinsale and Judith McNaught (pen names, I believe) are two of my favorites. I’ve read their historical romance books at least 10+ times. I have them in both digital and book formats.

The Dream Hunter falls into the category of one of those messy unlikable tomboyish female heroines. I LOVED ZENIA. I loved that she was the fictitious child of real-life British adventuress and antiquarian Lady Hester Stanhope and MP Michael Bruce, another noted adventurer, and I went delving into that history. That Lady Hester named Zenia after Zenobia, Queen of the freaking desert and Palmyra, which I knew nothing about. I then subsequently and oh so willingly and most delightfully followed history down that rabbit hole of historically powerful women. My god, I was ecstatic and in love and I wanted books about both these amazing women.

I know, I know: ADVERBS, PAMELA. They are earned—I cannot help it!

This novel also included information on Bedouin culture, the Islamic religion, and gave me an insight into British colonialism and sociopolitics of the era in that region, which is something you rarely find in a historical romance novel.

This review by Alexis Hall and Queer Romance will give you emotions. I urge you to read it. She articulates my feelings about this book and these characters accurately, I feel we must be cosmically linked.

Laura Kinsale fills her novels with lots of new information and historical tidbits that you will spend days afterward researching. And the romance is hot; the sex even hotter; the characters so powerfully complex and human, you will cry and cry and cry. And this is only my second favorite Kinsale novel.

YES. The other reviews to follow.

One of my favorite scenes:

“Abide you.” He scowled fiercely as he lifted his hand and wiped the tears from her cheek with the back of his knuckle. “My God, I’m alive because of you.” His touch moved over her skin, slightly rough, tears and a few grains of sand on his fingers. “Little wolf! What’s your name?”

“Zenobia,” she said.

His fingers stilled. “Naturally,” he said in a dry tone. “Oh, naturally!” He stepped back and threw his hands wide. “Zenobia, queen of Palmyra!” he said with a savage flamboyance. “I can guess whose vanity that was meant to serve.”

“You can call me Zenia, if you don’t like it,” she said. “My mother did. She thought I was too missish to be a namesake for Zenobia.”

“Did she?” He gave a scornful laugh. “I’ll wager she never saw you drag a camel up a sand dune.”

Zenia looked at the floor. “No.”

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