This audiobook is going to be in everyone’s top lists of 2022
This is hands down my most expected audiobook of 2022. Earlier this year when I saw the announcement that The Headmistress – one of my favourite books of 2021 – was going to be released in audiobook no less than with Abby Craden as the narrator, I did a happy dance… and then proceeded to endure the anxious wait. But here it is at last and if you haven’t read the book, which was voted by LezReviewBooks readers as the best of 2021, now with Abby Craden reading it… You just cannot miss it.
Sam Threadneedle, a math teacher at the girls’ academy Three Dragons, gets involved in an unforgettable one-night stand with a mysterious woman. When the same woman appears three months later as the new headmistress in charge of unpopular changes to save the institution from bankruptcy, Sam will be torn between her allegiance to the institution and her increasing attraction for the woman who can destroy all she’s ever had.
The one-night stand sex trope is one of my favourites maybe because it brings the typical 50% mark romance book excitement to the beginning. A couple of wlw books that I can recall do this pretty well, Gerri Hill’s The Killing Room and Carsen Taite’s It Should be a Crime. I admit that I was expecting something similar in this novel but the author surprised me. Instead of describing the main characters’ encounter at the beginning, Ms. McKay sprinkles little tidbits of the scene in the first few chapters… and in reverse chronological order… So these little sexy snippets act more like teasers than anything else. Very clever.
Due to the intrigue elements in this novel, a lot of this story is plot-driven. However, all the characters, main and secondary, are fleshed out extremely well, including Willoughby the cat. One of my favourite secondary characters was former headmistress Orla, as the author described her Irish traits very convincingly. As this story is written in third person from Sam’s point of view, the headmistress herself is a mystery to reveal in all her icy, aloof and sexy glory. As the story peels off layer after layer of her hidden personality, the reader inevitably falls in love with her along with Sam.
The Headmistress mixes romance with a bit of mystery, action and intrigue. I confess I couldn’t see the villain coming, it really surprised me. As a matter of fact, “surprise” is an accurate word to describe my feelings toward this book, the good kind of surprise. I’m not surprised, however, by Abby Craden’s performance. The narrator has said on social media that this book was “pure deliciousness to narrate”, well, let me tell you that it was definitely delicious to listen to as well. Where to start? With the exquisite husky tones of Magdalene Nox? Or the sweet and fiery interpretation of Sam Threadneedle? Or the sizzling hot performance of the sex scenes? This is one of those audiobooks that I’d love to erase from my mind so I could experience it for the first time once again. Until time travel is invented, I can only hope for subsequent listens that feel as mind-blowing as the first.
If you are looking for an exquisitely written book with beautiful metaphors, well-fleshed characters, a little action/intrigue, and a beautiful romance, look no further. The Headmistress is one of a kind. As usual, Ms. Craden makes the story even better. I have no doubt that this audiobook is going to be in everyone’s top lists of 2022. Worth the wait. 5+ stars.