Genre: Sci-Fi, Romance
LGBTQ+ Category: Lesbian, Agender, Poly
About The Book
Ten years ago, aliens from a Galaxy spanning government called the Hegemony arrived in the Solar system and ever since Earth has been on a long, slow journey to becoming a banana republic. Samantha ‘Sam’ Murray has spent her entire high school career doing everything her mom could think of to earn a chance at an off-world education that would keep her from living a life of poverty. But with just a few weeks left before graduation there’s no scholarship in sight and Sam has her heart set on getting an apartment with her best friend and crush, Jenny, and maybe finding out if they can be more than just friends. All of her plans come crashing down when she finds out her mom has signed her up for an arranged marriage on another planet as a way to get her the off-world education she’s sure Sam needs.
Sam arrives on Talamh, a planet ravaged by disaster, expecting to find herself promised to some rich alien prince. Instead, she finds herself among a species that has no concept of gender, promised to a beautiful alien that makes Sam’s little gay heart skip a beat every time she looks at them. There’s just one problem. Orla, the person Sam is promised to, is already in love with their best friend Sorcha. As Orla and Sam’s betrothal moves forward, they find themselves falling in love, but Sam can’t help but worry that Sorcha will come between them. At least, until she and Sorcha start to develop feelings for each other.
Will desire and jealousy destroy all their futures, or will Sam, Orla, and Sorcha find a way to be happy together?
So often, stories that have aliens coming to Earth either have them storming in with all guns blazing or they quietly arrive and everything is hunky dory. In “Mail Order Bride” the author has a realistic, alien-ant farm point of view. If an alien government has the technology and the finances to get multiple spaceships to Earth, are we really going to be treated as equals? The author, Molly J. Bragg doesn’t think so.
In Bragg’s future Earth, Beth Murray sees the world’s economy tanking and opportunities for humans dwindling as the technology of the Hegemony and their trading partners overwhelms anything humans can create. She tricks her daughter, Sam, into applying for an arranged marriage. Sam soon finds herself on Talamh, in a culture unlike anything she’s used to. Naturally affectionate, Sam doesn’t understand the staid practices of extreme modesty and an almost total ban of physical contact. Yet, she works within the societal constraints to create a relationship that makes both her and Orla happy.
The author did an excellent job of world-building, so Talamh is clearly drawn in sharp contrast to Earth, with a society that functions more like an ancient feudal system, despite their technological advances. Talamh is gender-neutral, so occupations aren’t based on gender, but by position in a family’s House. The good of the family is put before the happiness of the individual. But, Sam is immediately drawn to Orla and they quickly work at building a relationship that will work for both of them. Until Sam realizes that Orla has been in love with their friend Sorcha, who reciprocates. Sam is then faced with a choice: step back and allow Orla to be with Sorcha, or try to include Sorcha and build a life for three, instead of two.
I adored Sam because she tried so hard to make everyone happy, including herself. The author did a great job at giving us well-developed characters who, despite being aliens, are totally relatable. They are restricted by their society’s rules and their views of honor and responsibility but worked at their relationships and valued them.
The author gave great details, including some of the mundanities of life, like servant robots and descriptions of flora and fauna, working in differences in the planets along with the little details of life on both Talamh and post-alien Earth. The contrasts between the Earth and Talamh cultures were very well done.
Character development was fabulous. I would have liked to have seen a little more of the relationship once it included Sorcha as well as Sam and Orla, but I found the ending very satisfactory.
This was a great read and I look forward to more from this author!
I’m an avid reader who loves pretty much all genres except math textbooks. As a kid, my parents exposed me to everything from fairies, hobbits, and dragons to the biographies of interesting people around the world, interspersed with poetry, plays, and music. Into adulthood, I spent a lot of years with my nose buried in various textbooks. Now, I read whatever grabs my fancy.