REVIEW: To See the Sun by Kelly Jensen
Survival is hard enough in the outer colonies—what chance does love have?
Life can be harsh and lonely in the outer colonies, but miner-turned-farmer Abraham Bauer is living his dream, cultivating crops that will one day turn the unforgiving world of Alkirak into paradise. He wants more, though. A companion—someone quiet like him. Someone to share his days, his bed, and his heart.
Gael Sonnen has never seen the sky, let alone the sun. He’s spent his whole life locked in the undercity beneath Zhemosen, running from one desperate situation to another. For a chance to get out, he’ll do just about anything—even travel to the far end of the galaxy as a mail-order husband. But no plan of Gael’s has ever gone smoothly, and his new start on Alkirak is no exception. Things go wrong from the moment he steps off the shuttle.
Although Gael arrives with unexpected complications, Abraham is prepared to make their relationship work—until Gael’s past catches up with them, threatening Abraham’s livelihood, the freedom Gael gave everything for, and the love neither man ever hoped to find.
Dear Kelly Jensen, after reading your Chaos Station series ( written with the co-author) I was curious to read your some of your solo work.
This book has significantly less auction than Chaos Station had, and usually I prefer the book to have the healthy dose of action/adventure, anything to occupy the guys with besides romance/sex. However at times I am in the mood for pure romance, and yesterday I was in one of those moods.
First and foremost I really appreciated that while the story did not have a lot of action, the author was able to maintain tension in the narrative. This is basically a romance that deals with “mail order spouse” trope as translated into science fiction setting, however the author did a really nice job with her world-building. Right away the author drops us in the well established world, and even though the readers do not know a lot about it in the beginning of the book, the author made me feel that there is a lot to *discover* for me as a reader about the world and she delivered on this promise.
I thought it was an interesting parallel that while the life was harsh for both Gael and Abraham a/k/a Bram in the beginning of the story, Gael’s problems are mostly due to what kind of people he encountered since he was a child and the planet Zhemosen is actually a very pretty one, Gael just never gets a chance to see the real sun on it.
Bram had a loving childhood, but now lives and works on the planet with the harsh living conditions, however he still mostly enjoys what he does and hopes to improve the nature conditions on the Alkirak. The Alkirak mostly does not have the atmosphere, but I think in some places it does exists just very thin and they hope the green plants will make it stronger/bigger one day? I am not sure, but when the book takes place, people who live on that planet mostly cannot breathe outside without putting masks on.
Bram may enjoy his work, but he is also very lonely and one day he decides to place an ad in the service which connects the colonists and people from other planets very far away from Alkirak if those people want to come and live as companions (sexual companions, or just friends).
It just so happened that Gael placed an ad to the same service upon advice of his friend. Gael is driven by desperation, he needs to escape his native planet and his friend convinces him that going to the other end of the Galaxy to do that may not be the worst idea.
“Price had told him to have fun with it. Gael had had to restrain the urge to delete his profile once people had started responding:
A woman had wanted to add him to her harem.
Fifteen separate invitations to contract with Booyah Companions – a service that would not have matched him with a single lonely colonist.
Dick pics, tit shots, and combinations of both.
One respondent had had six breasts. And tentacles.
Twenty hours after the nightmare had begun (or had taken a bizarre left turn), he’d received a polite, concise message from Abraham Bauer. In his first HV, Bram appeared as nervous as Gael, stuttering over hello in almost exactly the same place – which probably wasn’t hard to do, but kind of endearing? And his voice.
Really good face, but it had been his voice that ultimately won Gael over. His accent was soft and mellow, as though he had all the time in the universe to consider his words and shaped each one specifically before using it.”
The rest of the book is Gael staying with Bram and the slow dance they do around each other till they finally realize that they are in love with each other. Gael brings with him a surprise companion which causes some complications for him and Bram, the nature forces on Alkirak add additional complications for their everyday lives and of course Gael’s past may also cause problems. Part of the reason why I do not pick up pure romances all that often is because I am afraid I may get bored, but I was not bored while reading this book.
As I previously stated the book is a very slow burn romance, in fact at times it was so slow burn that I did not quite believed it. I certainly thought that it would have made no sense if Bram and Gael did the insta love thing and jumped each other the moment after they met, but at some point the author made it *painfully clear* that they both really wanted each other and reasons for interrupting before they move from talking, kisses and cuddles to sex just became a little ridiculous. Overall though I quite liked the development of their relationship, please do not get me wrong, it is just at some point in time I wished they moved a bit faster.