I've heard many good things about Bujold's writing, both her fantasy and sci-fi series. However, after reading Shards of Honour I can only guess that this is not one of those "good things" or I should never listen to what I've heard about Bujold.
I really have difficulty grasping Shards of Honour. The premise is decent, two individuals from very different societies (planets) end up being put together in a stressful situation and things go from there. Yeah, that could turn out really well but it didn't. The "romance" aspect was so laughable, the random comments so cringe-worthy that I found it difficult to read. The random comments I refer to were always internal, such as "oh, my....he smiled...ohhh". *eye roll* Also, how are we supposed to believe that these two people that had stilted conversations with one another were then potentially in love and willing to marry FIVE days later? With no flirting or anything sensual within miles. I don't get it. Just why Bujold, why? Is that romance to you? That makes me sad.
The societies have potential, the backgrounds were interesting. Even the first few pages of the book were interesting--with exploring the flora of this new planet and the attack. However, such information was bogged down in such clunky, stilted writing and dialogue that I found it difficult to pay attention. The characters are all kept at a distance, I did not come to care about them at all. Their ridiculous actions (like a marriage proposal after 5 days) did not allow me to respect them which didn't help matters.
Overall Shards of Honour is an extremely strange "romance" with some sci-fi elements thrown in simply so you don't fall asleep and start drooling on the pages. Boring and stilted, they are the two best words I have to describe this mistreatment of the sci-fi genre.