Looking for book about a red haired orphaned girl who is descovered to be the last of her family.


New Member
Jan 28, 2020
Looking for a book I read around 2003-2006ish? It was a soft cover, can't remember for sure but I think it was written around the 80s, the first of a series.

It takes place on a futuristic planet that wasn't earth and the main protagonist is a poor red haired young woman (or teen) who is somehow discovered to be the daughter of a man (now dead) who was the last remaining heir to some important family who was known for having red hair which is now a rare hair color. She gets thrust into life with the ruling class/rich elite, and has to navigate through that.

The only other things I remember is that there was a love interest, a priest, and that the native inhabitants of the planet they live on are thought to have no intellegence and so they are treated like servants/slaves, with one character questioning this idea with the priest, but after said character leaves (and this is the weird part) the priest has a scene where he thinks the idea over and then decides it's impossible and then be goes on to molest his female slave, and that's where I remember the book ending.

I'm sorry this isn't much to go on, I was much too young to have read this when I did so the details are fuzzy and hard to describe. Any help is appreciated!
The red hair and 'future planet that's not Earth' makes me think this is probably one of the Darkover books by Marion Zimmer Bradley.
I think I've only ever read like one and a half of them, that was a long time ago so I couldn't tell you a book title.

I think it’s almost certainly MZB with the theme of molestation of the young character. It vaguely rings a bell. *shudders*

It actually reminds me more of Mists of Avalon but it’s not sf.
It doesn't sound like any of the Darkover books I've read, but though I did read most of them there are a few there near the end of her life that I did not read. However, the setting sounds nothing like Darkover. Could still be MZB, I suppose, but unlikely to be Darkover.
I also got some vague memories of a Jo Walton story that might fit the question, however they are too vague to recall
A memory came to me, naturally, hours after I posted above, that there is a slight chance that the book mentioned might be MZB's The Planet Savers, which I don't remember very well, but what little I remember could possibly fit the description, maybe, because of the trail men, who were sort of viewed as animals, I think. But that and the red hair being a sign of belonging to one of the great families are the only parts that seem to fit. The rest does not ring any bells.
Not really my thing, fantasy and science fantasy, I have read some, but I've done a massive amount more of sci fi.
I struggle with these kind of questions!
Thank you all for the help! Unfortunately none of the books suggested match what I remember.
Just to clarify something, the young protagonist is never molested, it's the alien inhabitant/native of the planet that is treated like a slave that gets molested by the priest- not sure if that clarification helps at all, but thank you again!