REVIEW: I Married a Lizardman by Regine Abel

As a third daughter on the farming colony of Meterion, Susan’s future prospects aren’t too promising. A pretty face, top-notch skills, and hard work mean nothing if your dowry doesn’t include fertile lands. With her twenty-fifth birthday approaching, and no suitors even remotely sniffing in her general direction, Susan will be forced to leave the family lands to work as an indentured servant in the capital city. Her only way out is to settle for an arranged marriage through the PMA – the Prime Mating Agency. She just never expected to be paired to a grumpy, massive lizardman, and above all not to grow so fond of his scales and quirky ways.

With everything going on, the last thing Olix needs is a mate, especially a squishy, scaleless, off-worlder with strange ways, and an obsession with farming. He is a Hunter, not a dirt digger. The Seer must have been mistaken when she insisted that, for the sake of the people, he take a mate from the stars. How can such a tiny thing be their salvation? And yet, his Susan’s softness is disturbingly addictive while hiding a surprising resilience.

Warnings: Sexually conservative undertones, Racial undertones

Category: M/F

I Married a Lizardman is the first in a series of romance novels about a match making agency that will hook you up with the alien of your dreams! If you like the aliens in your alien romances to actually look like aliens and not just humans with blue skin or pointed ears, this is quite the series, and our lovely lizardman Olix certainly fits the bill.

WRITING
This is a fairly formulaic romance novel, following the developing relationship between Susan and Olix. Its well written, and each character’s voice comes out very clearly in their narrations. I really liked both of them, and was excited to see how they would bridge the culture barrier between them in their arranged marriage. Olix’s people have been struggling with the new industrialization of their planet as it has recently joined the interplanetary world, leading to more tourists and companies taking up residence on it. In the midst of this, hunting has been on the decline as the animals they hunt for meat seem to be disappearing, meanwhile there is pressure from the big corporations to sell their land. The mating agency is sure that Susan’s background in farming is the key to helping boost the lizard’s economy so their clans can survive, but Susan has a hard time convincing her new husband to let her try farming. The story revolves around these two points; their developing relationship, and the economic crisis of the lizards.

EMOTIONAL ENGAGEMENT
This book does a good job at getting you emotionally invested in its characters. Both Susan and Olix get some POV chapters, narrating their experiences and the gradual way that their relationship and emotions develop. They are both reluctant to start with, strangers from completely different cultures and societies thrust together into an arranged marriage, and their interactions are full of awkward cultural misunderstandings, but as they spend more time together and get to know each other their relationship blossoms into affection and eventually, love. Everything you could possibly want from an arranged marriage book. Now, there is some purity culture stuff baked into here; Susan comes from an extremely sexually conservative colony where pre-marital sex used to be illegal and is still taboo, so there is definitely some sexual baggage that the character is working through here, and that is part of what the book emotionally wrestles with and explores, though I wish it would explore it without quite so much slut-shaming.

WORLDBUILDING
Things get a bit dicey in the worldbuilding, as there is a definite undertone to this of colonialism, and Indigenous coding to the lizard aliens. Susan as an offworlder prophesied by their Seer to come and save the aliens by bringing farming and agriculture to their planet leaves a distinctly bad taste in my mouth. I did like the concept of a galactic dating agency that will match people up with their perfect mates, and it’s a great premise to run a romance series off of of course, and the governments and greedy corporations in the backdrop of the story add a lot of flair to the environment. I just wish it wasn’t so heavily positioning the lizard aliens as primitive figures standing in the way of progress for our heroine to rescue from their backwards ways, as that idea comes with so much baggage.

STEAMINESS
I liked the sex in this book. It’s very sweet, and very steamy. More vanilla that I wanted, but I loved the way that the two characters had to learn about each other and each other’s bodies. That’s one of the primary draws to me of alien romance, the fact that the characters don’t necessarily know how sex is going to work and will have to overcome the learning curve of approaching sex with a person who’s body is so different from their own. This one handles that very well, to very tender effect. If you like affectionate, mutually respectful and loving sex with some moments of levity and laughter, this is a great book. It’s quite vanilla for my own tastes though; at one point while explaining how humans have sex Susan tells Olix that we usually only do missionary position, and at another point she refers to oral sex as “getting kinky”, so you know, it’s not exactly wild fare, but it is sweet and romantic.

If you like romance with a dash of economics and exploring alien bodies, this will be a fun ride. I did find some aspects of the story a tad uncomfortable, but overall I do think this author does a good job at writing emotional development and interesting narratives. It’s a romance formula and hits the romance beats it needs to to be a fun and satisfying read.

Have you read I Married a Lizardman? Let me know what YOU thought by leaving me a comment!

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