I’m not a romance reader. I enjoy fantasy books where romance is but a subplot. So, when I saw Ice Planet Barbarians all over TikTok, initially I was like “thanks but no thanks.” And then I don’t know what got me to change my mind. I decided to read the first book of this sci-fi romance series and couldn’t stop reading through to the rest. There are 22 full books and several short stories. I did not read the short stories mostly as they were add-ons that explore things that already happened in the main series but from another character’s perspective. Each book in the series takes place from a different couple’s perspective. So while the same characters appear in all the books, they each have one book that is theirs that takes place at various times. Some of them overlap, while others take place a while after the first one. So, you can’t go out of order while reading them. As things mentioned in the books wouldn’t make sense completely if you didn’t read the previous ones.
Basically, the premise of the series is a bunch of women in their early twenties are kidnapped. Their ships crash land on an ice planet where another species that crashed landed hundreds of years ago live. The weather conditions are extremely harsh. It’s negative temperatures and snow every day of the year. Not to mention the animals on the planet are aggressive and deadly, and the air is toxic. Without a symbiotic called the khui, anyone on the planet only has maybe eight days to live before they die. However, there’s a catch. The khui (which many of the humans call cooties) decides when you get pregnant and who gets you pregnant. Like a matchmaker that doesn’t take no for an answer. In a trade-off, it heals the host and allows them to handle the air and extreme temperatures. And the tribe that finds the women are basically down to only unmated males, so the women have to agree to become their potential wives in order for food, shelter, and life. Compared to waiting around for their original captors and death, they agree. So, each story tells how they paired off with their romantic partner. Or at least the majority do. Others that happen later in the series, focus on different aspects of their relationships or times in the tribe’s lives.
The main books in the series (and the ones I read) were:
- Ice Planet Barbarians (Georgie/Vektal)
- Barbarian Alien (Liz/Raahosh)
- Barbarian Lover (Kira/Aehako)
- Barbarian Mine (Harlow/Rukh)
- Ice Planet Holiday (Claire/Ereven)
- Barbarian’s Prize (Tiffany/Salukh)
- Barbarian’s Mate (Josie/Haeden)
- Barbarian’s Touch (Lila/Rokan)
- Barbarian’s Taming (Maddie/Hassen)
- Barbarian’s Heart (Stacy/Pashov)
- Barbarian’s Hope (Asha/Hemalo)
- Barbarian’s Choice (Farli/Mardok)
- Barbarian’s Redemption (Bek/Elly)
- Barbarian’s Lady (Kate/Harrec)
- Barbarian’s Rescue (Summer/Warrek)
- Barbarian’s Tease (Brooke/Taushen)
- The Barbarian Before Christmas (multiple)
- Barbarian’s Beloved (Ariana/Zolaya)
- Barbarian’s Valentine (multiple)
- Barbarian’s Seduction (Marlene/Zennek)
- Barbarian’s Treasure (Megan/Cashol)
- Barbarian’s Bride (Nora/Dagesh)
Each book is around 200 pages, so they aren’t long reads by any means. Actually, compared to the books I’m used to reading, these are pretty short. Not that a lot doesn’t happen or the relationship/story feels rushed. And each of the romances is different even if some of them have the same elements: resisting the khui for resonance (mating/pregnancy), kidnapping either to force resonance or because it appeared, or discovering that mate in a friend after dealing with trauma (mental or physical) of some form. But usually, by the end of it, the couple gets together or resolves whatever issue they were facing. And usually, you know who the next book is going to be focused on. Something always happens that hints at who it will focus on. Sometimes it’s a different pairing as things overlap, but for the most part, something in the subplot of what’s going on with the tribe will hint at the direction of the next book in the series.
Overall, the books are good. I wouldn’t say they are ultimately my favorite. But I also couldn’t stop reading these. I might check out the spin off series called Icehome which takes place on the same planet, but in another area. I’m not sure though, I think I might head back to my bookcase of many unread books and continue working my way through those next. Since, the entire month of June I read Ice Planet Barbarians. Which isn’t bad, I blew my reading goal out of the park with this, but it wasn’t exactly planned either. And the series surprised me for how much I liked it. There was a mixture of relationships, so it never got boring.
Sure there are some things that could be improved, there’s not a lot of diversity in the women. Almost all of them are white. And there’s no non-heterosexual relationship in the books. But the premise is also that they all get pregnant due to the khui, so I suppose that type of relationship wouldn’t fit in with the grand scheme of things but still. Every character is beyond straight, what are the odds? Especially with the women. They aren’t from a culture that’s “we have to procreate or else we will all die” so someone, in theory, wouldn’t be on the same page. The khui doesn’t exactly force anyone into a relationship that’s not ready for one (for the most part, some it does so there’s resistance to it). But those couples usually are good matches, and it’s something else that’s holding them from accepting it immediately. And no males ever force themselves on the females even if they kidnapped the other. They wait until the female consents to sex. Or at least the majority due, there are some consent issues throughout the books.
Plus, the story doesn’t stop at the mating as some of them have that immediately in the book, or it happens around the mid-point of the book with other things taking place afterward. Not always but for the most part. Not to mention, the women are stuck in “they are only housewives and baby-makers”, many have roles that expand after that happens. Like Tiffany becomes the gardener, Stacy is the cook to the entire tribe, Harlow becomes the mechanic, Liz is a huntress, etc. Also, most of the women have more experience than the males. So, it brings interesting POVs to that topic especially with Nora and her desire for kinky sex. Something that isn’t part of the culture at all on Not-Hoth/Icehome. So, while it’s a romance there are other elements that come to play and ties the story of all the books together.
Sure, there are a few mistakes here and there or details that get changed. The author, Ruby Dixon, acknowledges these at the end of the book. Sometimes characters are mixed up or suddenly someone becomes family members to others in the tribe, or they aren’t mentioned as being part of a specific family. Usually it’s nothing major though and I never noticed those slip-ups until I was reading the Author’s Notes at the end of the book. Then I’m like “oh yeah they’re supposed to be or weren’t related before.” Hell, half the time I forgot who’s with who overall in the tribe as many of the characters have similar names. Usually this happened with the later books or with Harrec and Hassen. Their names are so similar, I’m like wait was this one with Maddie or Kate? It’s usually the kits names if it’s mentioned around them that fill in that gap for me. Ruby Dixon keeps a list of all the tribe members and their kits (children) in the back of the book. Sometimes with notes about their history/character. As I read all of these on Kindle, I don’t look/see this until after I’m done reading. Not that it’s a big deal. I just thought it was worth pointing out.
I would rate these books between 3.25 and 3.5 stars out of 5. Some were better than others, but I’m not going to go through and figure out a rating on each one. As some of these, I read weeks ago. And I’m writing this post when I finished. So, it wouldn’t be fair to try to go “oh what was this specific book again on a rating scale.” As I did not think to write down any of this until the end. Since initially, I wasn’t even going to write a post but concerning I read 1-2 of these books a day, I felt like I should in the end. Plus, I enjoyed them. Not sure if I’m going to add these types of books into my regular reading list, I do love me a good fantasy but the sci-fi aspect of these romance books helped bridge that gap to some degree.
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