Phaedra’s father is the wealthiest merchant in Athens. She wants for nothing, except freedom. Like all upper class women in her culture, she is shut away from the eyes of the public at all times. She is her father’s property until she weds, at which point she becomes the property of her husband. In Phaedra’s case, her husband is to be Theseus, duke of Athens and heir to the throne of the city-state.
Once she is wed, she will no longer have even the sun and fresh air of the courtyard at her father’s house. So on her wedding day to a man she never has met, she connives with a loyal servant to disguise herself as a man and enjoy one last hour out of doors.
To her horror, the ruse is discovered by the one man whose ire she can least afford to provoke – the handsome and powerful Duke Theseus himself. Outraged at Phaedra’s complete lapse of morality, he refuses to marry her. He then condemns her to be made part of Athens’ annual tribute, and sacrificed to the minotaur of Crete.
The unfortunate young woman is summarily packed off on a ship and deposited, along with thirteen other young people, at the gate of the labyrinth. The only way out is through, and Phaedra volunteers to go first.
No one believes the stories about a man with a bull’s head, but Phaedra discovers that the myth is true, and that the terrifying-looking creature has a soft side. In contrast to the beastliness of Theseus, Asterion, the minotaur, treats her with great kindness. Much to Phaedra’s surprise and delight, however, that kindness often is spiced with punishment that excites and enflames her youthful amorousness.
Despite their differences, the woman and the minotaur find themselves well suited for one another, and both are willing to fight to stay together, even against the powerful man who condemned her to death.