Romance Science Fiction

Read Winter’s Orbit

Read Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

While the Iskat Empire has long dominated the system through treaties and political alliances, several planets, including Thea, have begun to chafe under Iskat’s rule. When tragedy befalls Imperial Prince Taam, his Thean widower, Jainan, is rushed into an arranged marriage with Taam’s cousin, the disreputable Kiem, in a bid to keep the rising hostilities between the two worlds under control.

But when it comes to light that Prince Taam’s death may not have been an accident, and that Jainan himself may be a suspect, the unlikely pair must overcome their misgivings and learn to trust one another as they navigate the perils of the Iskat court, try to solve a murder, and prevent an interplanetary war… all while dealing with their growing feelings for each other.

Loved this. Miscommunication usually irritates me but these two are trying So. Damn. Hard. and misreading everything in the most charitable light for the other person (and worse for themselves) — neither wants to impose on the other and are so careful to accommodate to the point of over-accommodating.

Jainan’s “secret” is easy to guess from the way he acts. Loved seeing him learn to trust again and accept his value and place in their relationship as equals — and that part of that is proving to Kiem that he really is good at things and has things to contribute.

I liked the blend of culture-focused sci-fi with appropriately creepy and scary outside “judge” the Auditor, the murder mystery, and the slow-burn love story, with a dash of survival story. The mounting background tension that nothing has quite gone wrong yet but it will go very very very wrong if things don’t work out, and the time is ticking down, is done well.

The characters didn’t act the way I expected leading up to the ending, in a good way. Kiem handles a discovery poorly and confronts Jainan about it, but redeems himself with his actions in the climax.

I’m not sure whether or not it was the right call to do the only sex scene as a very early cut-to-black — probably necessary to keep this on the space opera shelf and not push it into romance. As a romance reader, I think it could have been a very character revealing moment, moreso than it was, that could have made them confront some things about themselves.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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