Review: To See the Sun by Kelly Jensen

Survival is hard enough in the outer colonies—what chance does love have?

Life can be harsh and lonely in the outer colonies, but miner-turned-farmer Abraham Bauer is living his dream, cultivating crops that will one day turn the unforgiving world of Alkirak into paradise. He wants more, though. A companion—someone quiet like him. Someone to share his days, his bed, and his heart.

Gael Sonnen has never seen the sky, let alone the sun. He’s spent his whole life locked in the undercity beneath Zhemosen, running from one desperate situation to another. For a chance to get out, he’ll do just about anything—even travel to the far end of the galaxy as a mail-order husband. But no plan of Gael’s has ever gone smoothly, and his new start on Alkirak is no exception. Things go wrong from the moment he steps off the shuttle.

Although Gael arrives with unexpected complications, Abraham is prepared to make their relationship work—until Gael’s past catches up with them, threatening Abraham’s livelihood, the freedom Gael gave everything for, and the love neither man ever hoped to find.

To See the Sun is definitely a sci-fi story, but you don’t need to be a sci-fi fan to appreciate the nuances of the human condition that is truly the main focus of the story.

The setting is in the distant future and is split between two planets. Gael comes from a dystopian society where his status has forced him to live in the Undercity, which is a harsh and unforgiving world. Gael has spent his life struggling to survive while taking care of his brother. He’s never seen the sun and his only dreams are to live above ground and maybe spend his life with someone he can love.

Bram is across the galaxy, on Alkirak, a mostly uninhabitable planet that the people are trying to turn into a land that can be farmed and that will be self sustaining. It’s a long and unforgiving process, but Bram is committed to bringing his farm to life. He’s a retired miner and while he’s happy with his land and his critters he would love nothing more to have someone to share his life.

Neither Gael nor Bram have a lot of convenient prospects to make their dreams come true, but circumstances happened, as they are wont to do, and the two connected across the galaxy. Gael was forced into a job by the family he worked for (and when I say family, I mean space-mob type family) that his conscious wouldn’t let him follow through with. He basically had to split town or be offed himself and one does not simply split town when one lives in the Undercity. Thankfully Gael knows a guy, because you have to “know a guy” if you plan to survive and he comes up with a plan to help Gael escape.

Gael puts his profile on a partner matching site and Bram sees him and is smitten pretty quickly with Gael’s profile. Gael thinks Bram is pretty easy on the eyes as well, and while Gael’s first motivation is to escape, he’s cautiously optimistic about his future for the first time in his life.

Nothing is ever easy though and Gael ends up unknowingly transporting a stowaway with him on his way to Bram. Little Aavi, the young girl who was mixed up with the “family” as well knew a good thing when she saw it and she hooked her little wagon to Gael’s star and made a break from the Undercity to Alkirak too. This unexpected passenger threw all kinds of wrenches in Gael’s plans, but Bram is a solid dude and he would never turn away a child. Especially when deep in his heart he longs for a family of his own.

The whole book has such a good balance between the mechanics of living their lives on Alkirak and the ebb and flow of a new relationship, now partially built on half truths. Bram knows Gael was escaping from the Undercity for some reason and that Aavi was most likely not his sister (as Gael had presented her), but none of that is a concern to him as they settle into a comforting routine that gives him a glimpse at what a life with a family could be like.

Gael feels terrible for, what he feels, is him deceiving Bram. He offers more than once to let Bram out of the contract they entered, but Bram is smart and simple, in a good way. He doesn’t overcomplicate his feelings and I loved being inside his head while he processed his new life with Gael and Aavi. His thoughts and actions read so organically in relation to his connection with Gael and the flow of conversation and little moments as their relationship progressed were so sweet to read.

Gael opened up slowly to Bram and I couldn’t help but understand his apprehension. He was falling hard for Bram and it would absolutely break his heart to disappoint Bram in any way, much less put his and Aavi’s future in danger.

There were outside influences and a bit of mystery going on as the the new little family worked towards an HEA and it kept the story moving quickly along and gave some needed tension that kept the tale from being too easy. There wasn’t angst for the sake of it, thankfully, but there was some good conflict that worked really well and kept me turning pages.

The ending was perfect for Gael and Bram. They were solid and sweet in a strong and quiet way and it was a treat to read after everything they went through at the end. Their HEA was hard won and I loved that the ending was all about their family and their future.

**a copy of this story was provided for an honest review**

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