Romance Science Fiction

Read Hunt the Stars

Read Hunt the Stars (Starlight’s Shadow, #1) by Jessie Mihalik

Octavia Zarola would do anything to keep her tiny, close-knit bounty hunting crew together—even if it means accepting a job from Torran Fletcher, a ruthless former general and her sworn enemy. When Torran offers her enough credits to not only keep her crew afloat but also hire someone to fix her ship, Tavi knows that she can’t refuse—no matter how much she’d like to.

With so much money on the line, Torran and his crew insist on joining the hunt. Tavi reluctantly agrees because while the handsome, stoic leader pushes all of her buttons—for both anger and desire—she’s endured worse, and the massive bonus payment he’s promised for a completed job is reason enough to shut up and deal.

But when they uncover a deeper plot that threatens the delicate peace between humans and Valoffs, Tavi suspects that Torran has been using her as the impetus for a new war. With the fate of her crew balanced on a knife’s edge, Tavi must decide where her loyalties lie—with the quiet Valoff who’s been lying to her, or with the human leaders who left her squad to die on the battlefield. And this time, she’s put her heart on the line.

First in a series, does a good job setting up the series and introducing all the characters (almost too good a job setting up the future pairs?) — I’ll check out the next book. I couldn’t get into Polaris Rising but wanted to give Mihalik another try.

I’m not convinced the captain we meet here could be a bounty hunter — she’s too caring. She spends much of the book cooking for her crew and pitching in on chores while her crew seems to solve most of the problems. The found family on both their parts is sweet.

This felt a bit long, the pacing maybe a little too slow on the flight to Valovia. The author was giving everyone time to get used to each other and work through some tensions about “working with the enemy,” while introducing the reader to all the characters and starting the romance. That  I feel like the romance needed a little more time to develop and build trust, especially after some betrayal and manipulative behavior towards the end of the book that should be a red flag, unaddressed.

The politics are vague, but will presumably become clearer in future books. Some loose threads — what’s up with her seeing the auras? what did Torran do that infamous day? is Torran upset about the way telepaths fought in the war? what’s the actual way to fight with flying spiked metal shields? — and guns unfired — kept waiting for the much-feared wormholes to yield danger. I’m guessing these will be addressed in future books, are foreshadowing future events, or are holdovers from edited out plots. Because this is told only from her perspective, we miss out on some of his thinking — though I think that was probably the right choice given the plot, because it would spoil some surprises. The alien pet was cute though didn’t do much — and it was unclear why it was so important to the Valoffs.

By Tracy Durnell

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

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