Re-read Claimed

Read Claimed (Brides of the Kindred, #1)

Olivia Waterhouse has just graduated from nursing school and has her whole life ahead of her—until she gets drafted. Problem is, she isn’t being forced into the Army, she’s been chosen as a Kindred bride.

The Kindred are huge alien warriors—a race of genetic traders whose population is ninety-five percent male. After saving Earth from the threat of invasion they demand a reward—the right to find brides among the population. The chances of being chosen are about the same as those of winning the lottery—guess it’s just Liv’s lucky day.

Baird is a Beast Kindred who recently escaped imprisonment and torture at the hands of the malevolent Scourge. Through the torment and pain only one thing kept him sane—the thought of finding and claiming his bride—Olivia. His need to possess her is a burning intensity that threatens to consume them both.

Angry at having her future and her family taken away from her, Liv vows to fight back the only way she can—by resisting. She has one month on the Kindred Mothership with Baird—their claiming period. If she can keep from having bonding sex with him during that time, she can go home and get on with her life on Earth.

But Baird isn’t going to make it easy for her. Every week he is allowed to touch Liv more and more intimately and according to the contract she signed, she has to let him. She’s determined to resist him but his touch sets her on fire. And just as she thinks she knows what she wants, a twist of fate and an attack by the faceless Scourge AllFather changes everything…

I read this last four or five years ago, and remember finding parts of it frustrating, but it was even more frustrating on re-read. I admit this was somewhat of an angry-read.

The heroine is astonishingly incurious and closed-minded. She has no interest in learning about the alien culture she’s suddenly living in, and is terrified of everything she shouldn’t be (pets, massage equipment) yet oblivious to things that might actually be a problem (gets trashed on alcohol she thinks looks like milk, because obviously every white liquid in the fridge will be milk; gives no thought to avoiding the one part of the ship she’s told is dangerous). When she asks the hunky alien why he picked her out of all Earth women, I was wondering the same thing — she doesn’t have much personality going on. She’s also generic: her favorite food is pizza, she has a secret thing for sexy lingerie, and she’s never had an orgasm with a man before so she literally made herself a playlist to keep herself from being bored during sex. From a writing standpoint this choice is probably so she can serve as an “everywoman” and every reader can project themselves onto her (I mean, unless you have a single adventurous bone in your body 😉).

The heroine has a reasonable complaint about being taken away from her family and everyone she knows; shouldn’t a race of “genetic traders” who do this on many planets have experienced similar opposition previously, and learned how helpful it would be to integrate their races (letting select family members live on the ship too) and integration newcomers into their society (offering jobs / roles in their society to women with comparable skills)? These don’t seem like unreasonable compromises, and would probably actually benefit their society — so I’m led to believe they only want the genetic input and not anything more from the women they “draft.”

The story also frustratingly relies on an untruth about women’s sexuality, that if a woman is physically around it means she’s mentally willing. Her body is not sending you messages, dude, listen to what she’s saying with her mouth. No means no. This was published before #metoo so maybe it would have been written differently today.

They mention that the hero’s been (very recently) tortured, yet completely dismiss the idea that he might need some like therapy, support, or recovery time.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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