(Lois McMaster Bujold)
Cordelia's Honor is made up of two books, Shard's of Honor and Barrayar. These books set the stage for a much longer series based on these main characters son, Miles.
The presumption is that while mankind has populated the known universe, we have yet to find intelligent life, therefore all people we meet are "human" people. There are some interesting references to other life forms. The two major socio political frame works are Russian and Western European/American in nature with some references to African and Asian groups. The more relevant issues are military and personal.
The leading lady, Cordelia Naismith, stumbles into a military coup and falls deeply in love with the target of the coup, Aral Vorkosigan. They overcome multiple obsticals to their affection only to have their son Miles severly damaged in utero during a subversive military attack.
Cordelia, as the title insinuates, is the major action figure, never intentionally trying to win the day, merely doing as she sees fit to accomplish necessary ends. Many of her accomplishments are made using her wits but several times she is forced to use violence to meet her goals.
As can be surmised, Aral is from the more militant Russian colonized planet, Barrayar, while Captain Naismith is from a lunar orbital aptly named Beta Colony. Beta is liberal and technologically advanced while Barrayar had a hiatus from the rest of humanity and had to figure everything out for themselves. Barrayar has true poverty while Beta's idea of being poor means not having enough spending money for the next movie date.
The psychology of leadership, the perversion of military groups, and women's rights under a paternalistic society are all explored. There is some reference to s/m as one of the many antagonists who dies early takes Cordelia hostage against Aral.
It's a fun sci-fi read without a lot of Star Trek techno-babble or Serenity's need to emulate the American spaghetti western.