Nominated for the 2016 Rainbow Award, For the Clan
(2016), an LGBT dystopian romance by Archer Kay Leah, centers on two lovers reunited after many years apart. As old romantic feelings resurface, they’re forced to choose between the lives they have now and their past. A Canadian writer, Leah enjoys exploring demanding situations and complex relationships. She is best known for writing emotionally charged speculative fiction set in dystopian, futuristic worlds. Receiving popular critical reception upon publication, For the Clan
is popular with m/m and m/m/f romance readers.For the Clan
takes place in Canada in the year 2165 AD. For years, global leaders fought the Water Wars to control the world’s water supply, devastating society. Now, everyone either lives in regimented cities or small, heavily guarded “clans.” The world’s overlords, known as the “Governtary,” force everyone to work together to keep society going.
Splinter clans oppose this new, militaristic way of life, living in isolated communities without access to modern luxuries. Not trusting the Governtary, these clans prefer to live in solitude. Governtary soldiers hunt and kill them if they come too close to official cities.
The Water Wars didn’t just change the social order: They changed the human genome. After years of chemical and biowarfare, some humans are now born with magical powers or unique DNA modifications. Ordinary humans call these people “Vens,” and everyone fears them. The Governtary collects the Vens, using them as science projects.
The protagonists are Roan Lee and Jace Ama. Roan, a Ven, spends most of his young life evading the Governtary. He does not want to leave his family and friends behind, and he knows that if the soldiers capture him, he will never see them again. Jace, Roan’s best friend and first love, is an ordinary human. Though he cannot stand the thought of losing Roan, he knows it is only a matter of time before the authorities track him down.
One day, the worst happens, and Governtary soldiers capture Roan. Throwing Roan into a military lab, they undertake humiliating experiments on him. Jace is devastated, and for many years, his life doesn’t seem worth living. Eventually, he decides that Roan wouldn’t want him to give up on life, and so he throws himself into his local community and makes new friends.
Fifteen years later, when Roan and Jace are in their mid-30s, life looks vastly different for them. Roan is now a powerful military weapon and deadly assassin. One of the strongest Vens, he terrifies everyone. Despite his power, he has never forgotten Jace or his old clan, and one day, he escapes the military facility and goes looking for everyone. However, when he arrives home, he doesn’t receive the warm welcome he expected.
Jace is now the clan leader. Married to Cayra, he is deeply in love with her. He takes his clan responsibilities seriously, and although he cared about Roan once, he doesn’t trust him anymore. Having heard about Roan’s violent tendencies, he fears his unique power. He puts Roan under lockdown until he decides what to do with him.
Cayra loves Jace, and she understands his struggles. She knows that Jace once loved Roan, and now, she is worried about how Roan’s presence will affect their marriage. She encourages Jace to reflect on his feelings to decide if he still loves Roan, or if those feelings are gone forever.
Jace admits that there has always been something missing from his life. When the Governtary abducted Roan, he felt powerless to stop it. Now that he is older, he decided to become the clan leader to protect other Vens from the same fate. Although it was too late to save Roan, it was not too late to protect the future of his clan.
Cayra, however, knows Jace’s feelings are more complex than this. She understands that Jace loved Roan, and that he is still attracted to him. She talks to Roan about his feelings, and she finds out that Roan feels the same way. Despite her love for Jace, now that Roan is home, she worries that she will not be enough for her husband anymore.
Meanwhile, the clan turns on Roan. They don’t want a Ven around their children; they don’t care that he wants to rebuild his life. They encourage Jace to exile Roan, but despite his loyalty toward the clan, he can’t kick Roan out. Cayra knows that, if she doesn’t take charge of the situation, Roan’s presence could split the whole clan apart.
The three decide on a novel solution to their problems. Cayra encourages Roan and Jace to sleep together to explore their feelings. Roan and Jace start a sexual relationship, but Jace doesn’t want to leave Cayra behind. They decide to have a polyamorous relationship, which suits everyone, and life in the clan continues as normal.