To See the Sun, by Kelly Jensen

>> Sunday, February 10, 2019

TITLE: To See the Sun
AUTHOR: Kelly Jensen

PAGES: 293
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing

SETTING: Planets of Zhemosen and Alkirak
TYPE: Romance

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.
In the depths of one of the nasty undercities of the otherwise beautiful planet Zhemosen, Gael is struggling. His life has always been difficult, and now it's turned desperate. After a failed attempt to clear his debts (none of which he incurred himself, but all of which he's responsible for, according to the powers that be), he's in an even deeper hole than he started in, and ready to consider his only friend's suggestion to become a mail-order groom in a planet far, far away.

In one of those distant planets, Alkirak, farmer Bram is feeling a bit lonely. After 30 years working a challenging mining job, he's taken retirement and built his farm. It has been and still is a challenge as well, but the hardest work is done and Bram's job now is mostly about keeping things going. And now that he has some time to himself, he thinks a bit of company would be nice. His planet is still pretty sparsely populated, so his best bet is to place an ad on the galactic online matchmaking site.

Both Gael and Bram like what they're seeing in the other, and before long Gael, has entered into a contract with Bram. He'll travel to Alkirak to live with Bram, and they'll see if they suit. But when he arrives, it becomes clear he's brought some trouble with him.

This started out well. The setup was one I really liked: two people slowly getting to know each other in an isolated location, learning to rub along. It also had two elements I find really satisfying: the person who finally finds safety, a place they can relax in, after living a life of constant stress (that would be Gael), and the person who finds their loneliness alleviated (Bram).

I also really enjoyed the setting. Alkirak is a harsh planet, one where the atmosphere is still a work-in-progress and people have to live in deep crevices to stay out of the burning sun during the day. These crevices are huge (big enough for cities and farms) and traverse the whole planet, going deep into the planet (not such a great thing, as sometimes poisonous mists waft up from the depths). It was all really vivid and different, and I loved the frontier feel of it all.

So all very promising, but did the story fulfil that promise? Well, unfortunately, not really. There was something about the characters that didn't fully gel for me, and the chemistry between them was a bit anaemic (not just sexual chemistry, but the way they clicked together). And then, the last third of the book was a bit of a change of pace, with someone turning villainous in a way that didn't make much sense. I kind of stopped caring about then.

MY GRADE: This was a C+ for me. It was just ok.


Darlynne 10 February 2019 at 19:04  

I have occasionally found myself thinking, "I'm really enjoying this book, must tell others," only to pick it up the next day and check myself for whiplash. I assume it's me, but it could be a change of pace or tone or something out of left field. I hate when that happens.

TO SEE THE SUN still sounds interesting, and I love when the elements you described happen for characters. I'll definitely take a look. Thank you.

Rosario 12 February 2019 at 06:22  

Darlynne: That happens a bit too often. I think sometimes authors don't trust the internal conflict they've created and feel that they need to have some sort of climactic moment close to the end, and the only way they can do that is to introduce something different. I do wish they'd stick to what they had established, which is, after all, what had kept me reading!

I hope To See The Sun works better for you than it did for me!

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