Tuesday, June 19, 2018

M.K. Eidem - Grim

King Grim Vasteri is the strongest and most feared warrior in the Tornian Empire. He is the King of Luda, blood brother to the Emperor and his line will die with him. He will have no offspring for no female would join with him for once he was scarred he was considered 'unfit'. The Tornian Empire has been dying ever since the great infection caused the birth of females to become a rarity. Since then they have been searching the known universes for compatible females. The Emperor's discovery of a compatible female on a slave ship changed that. He'd ordered Grim to find his Empress' home world so more 'unprotected' females could be obtained, knowing Grim would never be allowed to Join with one.
Lisa Miller is a widowed mother of two little girls, Carly and Miki. Her husband died just a year ago, after a long battle with cancer and she misses him immensely. Friends want her to start dating again but in her heart, she knows there isn't a man on the planet she could love like her Mark. Who could love their girls like their own. Therefore, she'll stay alone.
When Lisa is discovered 'unprotected' at her husband's grave, she wakes on an alien ship heading for an alien world. Refusing to accept this she confronts the large males, demanding she be returned to her children. Seeing his chance to have a female, Grim agrees to accept and protect her offspring, if she agrees to Join with him and only him. Realizing this is the only way she can retrieve her children Lisa agrees and the Tornian Empire changes forever.

Comment: I got interested in this story after reading some good reviews about other sci-fi romance books and convinced H to buddy read it. As usual, I've finished first.
Looking for similar types of stories to things we previously liked can lead to interesting discoveries or not as pleasant ones and in this case I must say the important elements are there but there was a serious under development in what I would consider to be the best course of action for what was the premise.

In this story we meet Lisa Miller, a woman who was kidnapped by aliens from a distant planet where females don't abound and that has forced the (conveniently human-like) aliens to search for other species somewhere else. Earth women are a good match and that's why the aliens have gotten females found alone and "unprotected", to better let them get used to the new world.
Lisa, however, is not alone and she has, in fact, two children. When she says this and the aliens know about it, they still think it's too late to go back but between the other women's reaction and the decision of the alien king on board, they go back.
Grim is the highest member on board and he wouldn't be considered "fit" to have a female and with her, a family of his own. But in his decision to go back to accept the female's children, he does it in the condition Lisa accepts him. But since life and rules are quite different in the planet where they are going to live, will Lisa find happiness?

I can understand why some readers have enjoyed this story. There's something about using all the rules we adhere to and are used to and try to see them through different eyes or even in different contexts, namely humans vs aliens POVs in this book. I too was interested in seeing how to compare the societies and expectations of humans in a planet where so few women (or females, to distinguish) exist and how would they socialize now that things are becoming different.

As long as I kept reading, however, it turned out to be very difficult to ignore the flaws of the story, which I'll enumerate ahead. Despite that, I still consider this to be a successful story, mostly because the fantasy created was fluid and I wanted to see what would happen next. I liked how Lisa was such a determined woman and, as soon as she made her mind, she took charge of things and of those around her. I liked how Lisa was portrayed as being caring and aware of those around her, even the guards and those who wouldn't necessarily need to have contact with her. Her best feature was also her least positive for e but more of that ahead.

I liked how Lisa alone seemed to be the reason for most changes to happen in her new house and new planet as well. I liked how her role seemed to be elevated and how others seemed to improve of become better and happier people around her. I liked how females seemed to be very important in the Tornian empire, even if culturally they weren't as decisive and positive-acting a they could. I liked how Lisa and the other humans worked out as a means to compare. I liked many of Lisa's decisions, actions, routines...
As for the romance with Grim, that was of course too quick but I was more interested in the world building and so on.

Now onto the aspects I'd change or, at least, I felt weren't as well done. I'll summarize them because they could be a lot more detailed:
The writing is simple but the style felt simple. This means the characterization of everyone felt a little amateur, as if the reader wouldn't be able to grasp things without them being obvious.
The story definitely needed editing, which would have made the reading easier.
Lisa was a fascinating character but she also came across as too annoying or know-it-all and that didn't feel very realistic to someone who was kidnapped, who knows she will never see her planet and friends again.
The interactions between characters had its moments but more often were very black and white and that didn't allow for a lot of emotional growth.
The plot isn't complicated but includes situations that could have benefited so much from a stronger and more complex world building. Or maybe it just wasn't well used. 

I think the story has positive things but I wanted to see more things, I wanted better notions of the world building, the "rules", the reasons why now it was a good time for change to happen and not just because of Earth women. I feel like the author had many ideas, knew what she wanted to so with them but didn't have the patience to insert them slowly so there are many things around but not such a cohesive sense of them.
Based on the blurbs of the other installments in the series, this sci-fi story would be pretty much a repetition with different protagonists, as if the notion of expanding or offering different perspectives wasn't contemplated. This was moderately fun to try as a stand-alone but I think I'll stop here.
Grade: 7/10

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