Blurb: In a world where male children are rare, a man is a valuable commodity — to be sold to the highest bidder…
It isn’t easy being the oldest boy in a house run by women– especially for Jerin Whistler. The grandmothers of his clan are descended from soldiers, spies, and thieves–and their ruthless skills kept their family alive during their time in the wilderness. Jerin’s now afraid that he’ll have to marry the girls next door–a fate he’s convinced is worse than death. And it doesn’t help when, in the process of a daring rescue, he falls in love with a princess who’s as high above his station as it’s possible to be.
Ren knows that Jerin is too far below her class to be an appropriate match for her and her royal sisters. But then she hears rumors of a long-held Whistler family secret–one that might provide a way for them to finally be together. Unfortunately, she still has four sisters to convince. And that’s before Jerin even comes to the capital– where simmering political tensions will threaten not just their love but all their lives….
I’m a sucker for world-building and can be enticed to read almost anything if the culture intrigues me. So when I first heard about A Brother’s Price by Wen Spencer, about a world ruled by women because men are extremely rare, the “what-ifs” had me interested enough to get my hands on it asap. It’s a bit different than my normal type – secular adult fiction that is not mystery or SciFi/fantasy. And I was a bit worried the romantic aspects of the story would stray into romance novel territory. Instead I found myself hooked on a unique alternate-universe set in a western turn-of-the-century time period. The women are tough and carry pistols! Children are taught from a young age how to handle a rifle and do their part – not just with running the farm or ranch but also protecting the menfolk from raiders! And the men are sheltered and precious – raised to be good husbands and fathers, traded with another family when they are of age. (This aspect I found fairly realistic. I remember reading once about India having similar problems with not enough women to go around and many families only allowing their daughters to marry if their son can wed the other family’s daughter.)
As already mentioned, I really enjoyed the culture in this world. While a bit of a ridiculous idea, I felt like the author took the premise and made it have solid potential. I also enjoyed the intrigue – I dislike political intrigue with a lot of doublespeak but this was more like spy/assassin intrigue and had me champing at the bit for the characters to figure it out. And the climactic ending was so action-packed I was wishing I could see it in a movie. It was the perfect cap on a nail-biting situation.
I did find the “he loved each girl with all his heart” bit to be total bunk. Maybe I could have bought it if we didn’t have the Bible detailing over and over again how marriages with multiple spouses never fail to suffer from jealousy and unhappiness. And while not a porny romance novel, you can’t have a story that revolves around marriage/breeding without constant references to the subject, although handled tactfully. There is also a sex scene or two, though handled without many details.
All in all, I found A Brother’s Price well written and engaging. I also learned the author, Wen Spencer, writes popular science fiction and fantasy. My library only has book two for one of her series so I’ll have to order the books or just buy them myself. Either way, if they are anywhere near as good as this book was, I know I’ll enjoy them a lot!
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