I thought it’d be fun to do some reviews of books that have inspired me. One of my absolute favorite stand-alone novels is A Brother’s Price, by Wen Spencer. It really helped keep me going on my current manuscript, even though Somnolence is very different in style and setting. I think what really did it was just the fact that this book gleefully disregards all of the rigid norms that govern gender roles and relationships in western society, and I dig that. I love that this author just went for it, and made a really sweet and engaging story at the same time.
A Brother’s Price is set in a world where men are vastly outnumbered by women. It’s kind of a steampunk wild west type setting, and all the cowboys are badass women. Because the men are so few, they’re incredibly valuable and vulnerable to being snatched, so they have to be protected. This means a complete reversal of conventional gender roles. Our main character, Jerin, is a young man who has reached the age at which men generally marry. The title comes in because the husband price is a huge aspect of marriage in this world, and because the man’s sisters generally decide who he marries and make the arrangements.
Jerin’s huge family of sisters is pretty cute, and he’s a sweetie. I love reading about a man who is not just allowed, but encouraged, to be pretty and gentle and nurturing. Adventures ensue when he falls for a dashing lady, and she for him, but of course, it’s never that easy.
It is also one of the few good polyamorous love stories I’ve ever read. Men in Spencer’s world generally have a bunch of wives, but not at all in the way that polygamy usually entails. If you’re into, or at least tolerant of, loving more than one person at a time, you may really love this book.
Content warnings: rape, emotional abuse, mentions of incest, much fighting and some gory violence. Think wild west, but without the really offensive native american tropes. I don’t remember much explicit racial diversity, unfortunately. Everybody is pretty white.