http://www.TracingTheStars.com was provided a free review copy in exchange for an honest review.
This is not the first book I have read by Yamila Abraham, but it is the first sci-fi romance I have read from her, and I do believe it was her first venture into the genre. Yamila is a very prolific writer who is actually well known for her short novellas that are often romantic to erotic and typically focus on m/m relationships in a yaoi style. My favorite book by her is a m/m romance titled Her Twin Brother, which I think is one of her more mature stories with good characters and a contemporary plotline.
Unfortunately, her venture into SciFi Romance, with Alien Bride, was a bit of a miss for me, because it seemed like this novella included all three of my very least favorite Sci-Fi Romance tropes:
Mars Needs Women (Earth women taken to repopulate alien species who are lacking in population or females of their own.)
It's Okay Because He's Handsome (Female protag somehow has a heart bigger than her body and is able to overlook her captor's faults, such as being a tyrant overlord or murdering people because he is handsome, suave and/or has a big cock. This larger than reality heart often comes at the cost of the female protag's morals, values, intelligence and wit.)
It's Not Rape, It's Questionable Consent (Female protag captive is cajoled, drugged or tricked into accepting the alien's sexual advances and surprisingly enjoys the sex... because he's handsome.)
The book starts off a little bit confusing, with the female protag Meritza, having a flashback to her Peace Corp service. This does, however, give us some information on her character. She appears to be a strong female character and I was looking forward to have her put the aliens in their place, because it was pretty obvious she was going to be abducted. The abduction happens in broad day light, with her screaming but no neighbors seeming to care, instead of the alien doing it while she had been sleeping. This serves the purpose of Meritza being able to describe the alien to the reader.
The alien who abducts her is Hor, personal assistant to her intended alien mate, Lord Elentinus. She promptly renames him Whore, and he promptly treats her like crap through the rest of the book. I actually liked Hor's character more than either Meritza or Elentinus. Lord Elentinus turns out to be a bit of a gentleman, but he is still a Lord of an alien race who has enslaved many other worlds, warred with Earth and is now taking Earth women to repopulate his own dwindling species. Meritza is expected to cooperate, give up her reproductive abilities (to the sum of 24 harvested zygotes per year...) and be a good, diminutive bride for Elentinus, or face punishment from an electric collar around her neck.
I wondered quickly where the strong, spicy Peace Corps Meritza went. She is going into survival mode, but I was expecting, or at least hoping, for her to put up more of a fight. Instead, she falls into the 4th trope of 'I left my backbone and brain back on Earth'. This, mixed with a questionably consensual intimacy scene, just didn't work for me as a reader.
Yamila does bring her writing skills to the book, however, and I would like to point out that the book is well written. It has good characters, good world building and a stable plot. It will probably appeal to many readers, especially those in her large fan-base. As a sci-fi romance reader, it just didn't work for me personally.
The storyline has been done numerous times in SciFi Romance, hence why all the devices have become well-known tropes. I was hoping for something a bit more original, perhaps. I will continue to read Yamila's books, regardless, because I know that many of her stories are great and she has good writing abilities.