Ritual of Proof
by Dara Joy
Reviewed by Coral
In a world where women rule, it is the highborn men who are married off for the betterment of their families, and who are expected to go virgins to their marriage beds. A world where one whispered word could call into questions a man's virtue, destroying the reputation and honor of not only his family, but that of his wife's as well.
This is the world that Jorlan is born into, the society that he hates. Only grandchild of a powerful woman, he is a well sought after prize, as his wife would inherit his grandmother's estates. Appalled by how little the world cares about his thoughts, he comforts himself with the idea that his grandmother, Anya, would never give him away with his consent. And, while true she spoils him beyond decency, he is but a man, after all. So when Green Tamryn helps Anya ease some rather large debts, Jorlan finds himself summarily wedded and bedded.
Now, as Green desperately looks to him to give her the heir she needs to hold her rivals at bay, Jorlan finds fatherhood fast approaching. He must decide if he can learn to love and trust Green, with all of the radical, semi-traitorous thoughts in his head, or if he has no other choice but to give in, letting go of all of his dreams for equality.
This book is really not helped by its sci-fi setting. I get that making the planet a colony of Earth, it lets the author write without having to worry about anything being out of place ... Wait, what am I saying? Like authors really care about that. Past reviews would indicate, no.
The problem is, really, that it piques the curiosity, but then never goes anywhere. There's no payoff. We get mentions of writings from the time of "the landing" that are sealed away in a vault, and then nothing. It's never followed up on and we never get to find out what's written in these documents. Disappointing.
Also, the picture of the world, the technology, the science, it's all off-balanced, like the author only pulls out something when she needs and ignores that part of the story when its convenient. For example, a society ruled by women, where a woman can give herself an injection to cause ovulation, and another to accelerate pregnancy so it lasts only three months, yet there's no way to guarantee the child born is a girl so they can have the heir they need?
Plus, the author really needs to think up better "alien" words. Klee and Kloo as native horse-like animals? Kloobroth instead of gossip? It all sounds ridiculous. Although, to be fair, sometimes her non-Alien words are just as ridiculous. Why would a women-ruled society use "She-Lord" and "She-Count" as titles? It sort of implies that the title wasn't really meant for a woman (something that Jorlan never catches on to), doesn't it? I don't understand why they couldn't just be Lords or Counts? Or, you know, Ladies and Countesses. Hell, at the end, the author's using "Lordene" so, you know, that would have worked too.
The romance between Jorlan and Green was ... non-existent. They were attracted to each other, they lusted for each other, but there was nothing believably between them other than great sex. And, it's time to grow up here people, sex and love are not always the same thing.
Which, I guess, brings me to Jorlan and Green's wedding night. Jorlan clearly states that he does not want to have sex and Green changes his mind, by turning him on. There's this show, Latin Lover (warning, it's practically porn), where a man was kidnapping the women actresses of a telenovela. He brings them to his lair/hideout, where at first they resist him, but then give in when he begins to pleasure them. I found the storyline a little offensive then, and I had the same kind of reaction here. Maybe I'm way off base, but I think that it feeds in to the delusions of rapists, where the "no's" don't matter, because pleasure will overtake them in the end, and everything will be okay. Again, it's time to learn, physical pleasure does not equal consent.