Claimed by the Cyborg
& strange mating practices
By Cara Bristol
One of the first things you learn in writing science fiction romance is not to take anything for granted. It would be ridiculous to assume that our 21st century social customs would be norm several hundred years in the future on an alien planet no less. So writing SFR frees an author to move outside the box and explore alternative lifestyles.
Like mating habits.
Here and now on Earth the socially-sanctioned norm is two people getting married and being sexually faithful to each other. Yes, polygamous marriages and polyamorous relations exist, but they’re not the norm and are not generally accepted or practiced. Infidelity is quite common, but it is not viewed favorably. It’s considered “wrong.” And while arranged marriages do still occur, they were far more prevalent in centuries past. Generally, we pick our own partners and live with our mistakes or opt out by filing for a divorce.
The heroine in Claimed the Cyborg is Xenian, and on her planet marriages or “bondings” are practiced somewhat differently. To begin with, bondings are irrevocable. There is no escape hatch. Once you bond, it is for life. There is no such thing divorce or annulment even if your mate turns out to be homicidal whack job. You’re stuck. So the stakes are quite high, and that’s why Xenia doesn’t leave mate selection to amateurs. One’s mate is chosen by a seer who receives a vision telling her who should be paired. Xenians don’t marry for love and don’t expect to fall in love with their mates as this excerpt shows. Just before she is about to be married, heroine Julietta talks with her mother.
Julietta released a silent exhale. Maintaining a level tone, she asked, “Did you grow to love him?”
“Father. Did you ever grow to love him?”
“Love? It is well and good for troubadours to fill commoners’ heads with romantic frivolity. The bond your father and I share is sounder than any built on love. Our foundation is not based upon ephemeral whims but mutual respect and commitment. We complement each other.”
“So you don’t think it is possible for love to grow?”
“Well, I suppose it’s possible, but why would that matter when you have an empire to rule?”
Because I have an empire to rule. That is why it matters. “So you don’t love me—or Marji?”
“Of course I do! A mother’s love, a parent’s love for a child is a different matter.”
“Terrans bond for love,” Marji piped up. “I thought you admired the Terrans.”
Julietta looked at her mother, anxious to hear her reply.
“I admire many things about Terra,” she agreed, “but their emphasis on love isn’t one of them. Emotion offers a weak reason to bond, as evidenced by the fact that a significant portion of their marriages fail.”
“Perhaps love is so important they cannot carry on without it,” Julietta said quietly.
“Which proves it doesn’t last,” their mother said. But Xenians recognizes that being “stuck” with one person for one’s entire life may be a little stifling, so their society allows for outside recreation.
In this scene, Naimo explains the Xenian concept of fidelity to hero March, from Terra.
“So, no one ever, uh, hooks up with anyone from another race?” March asked.
“I don’t understand what you mean—oh.” Naimo grinned. “I get it. No, sexual relations are completely different. Bonded mates can and do engage in sexual recreation with others.”
His jaw dropped. “You will not be faithful to Julietta?”
“Of course, I will be faithful. I will serve her, support her, advise her, and stand by her side as her consort.”
“But you will have sex with other women.”
“During the first year when we must produce an heir, outside sexual congregation is forbidden. But, afterwards? Of course I’ll have my paramours.”
“And what about Julietta? Will she take other lovers?”
Naimo shrugged. “If she wants to.”
So what’s does good Xenian girl do? She breaks all her planet’s rules by falling in love with a Terran man.
Claimed by the Cyborg Description
March Fellows assumed he had all the time in the galaxy to pursue a relationship with Jules, an alien exchange student from Xenia, until she vanished without a trace. After years of searching, he finds his lost love on the eve of her arranged marriage.
The daughter of the Xenian emperor, Julietta never meant to fall in love with a Terran man while visiting Earth. Leaving to fulfill her responsibilities on her home planet opened up a hole in her heart that could never be filled. When March, now a cyborg, unexpectedly shows up just before she is to be bonded, she struggles to find the courage to turn him away a second time and follow through with her duty. Before she can act, the lovers are thrust into a political conspiracy that threatens the Xenian empire and their lives.
USA Today bestselling author Cara Bristol has been the no. 1 best seller in science fiction romance, bdsm erotica, and holiday fiction on Amazon. She’s the author of two science fiction romance series featuring tough alpha heroes: the Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance cyborg series and the Breeder science fiction romance series, which emphasize character-driven stories written with a touch of humor and sizzling chemistry between the hero and heroine. Cara lives in Missouri with her own alpha hero, her husband.
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