by Jessie Mihalik
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Reviewed by Hellie
To save her brother and protect her family’s future, a powerful princess must join forces with a dashing man from her past in this thrilling space adventure, the second novel in the Consortium Rebellion trilogy.
As the dutiful daughter of High House von Hasenberg, Bianca set aside her personal feelings and agreed to a political match arranged by her family, only to end up trapped in a loveless, miserable marriage. When her husband unexpectedly dies, Bianca vows never to wed again. Newly independent, she secretly uses her wealth and influence to save other women stuck in dire circumstances. Information is power and Bianca has a network of allies and spies that would be the envy of the ’verse—if anyone knew about it.
When her family’s House is mysteriously attacked, Bianca’s oldest brother, the heir to House von Hasenberg, disappears. Fearful for her brother’s life, the headstrong Bianca defies her father and leaves Earth to save him. Ian Bishop, the director of House von Hasenberg security—and Bianca’s first love—is ordered to find and retrieve the rebellious woman.
Ian is the last man Bianca wants to see. To evade capture, she leads him on a merry chase across the universe. But when their paths finally collide, she knows she must persuade him to help her. Bianca will do anything to save her sibling, even if it means spending time alone on a small ship with the handsome, infuriating man who once broke her heart.
As the search takes them deep into rival House Rockhurst territory, Bianca must decide if she can trust Ian with the one piece of information that could destroy her completely . . .
I feel the blurb makes the book sound more like a romance than it is. This book is classified as science fiction/ space opera, which it definitely is; and the romantic elements feel to be fourth or fifth down the list of classifications. As an adventure story, this book ticks all the marks, though admittedly I don’t read a lot of classic action-adventure per se, so those who do might have other opinions. (I know some people who read sci-fi may read this and go, “there’s too much romance!”--laughable--or “the world-building is cliched/stolen from a movie” which I wouldn’t know because I don’t watch a lot of sci-fi action movies either. To me, the plot felt plausible and the world-building detail didn’t seem to contradict each other or feel cliched. The writer’s voice and setting detail was such that I was still able to lose myself in the story without questioning every little thing. I know some readers who do read more of this kind of fiction may not be able to lose themselves as easily, much like when I read certain historical period books where I “know too much” and pick apart character development and plot.
The romantic elements were a struggle for me. While I believe the hero and heroine were both good people, so I wouldn't object to them being together, their chemistry felt non-existent for me. The author tried; and again, in a primary action-adventure, it would have been ludicrous to constantly make the heroine aware of the hero and how much she wants to jump him in a crucial situation where their lives are on the line, but at the same time, by the time they did get together, it felt off for them to even hook up. I think this might be a struggle in many romantic element type books. In a straight up romance, there is more chemistry tension than this particular book allowed, so when I get to a sex scene in a regular romance, I usually devour the scene as feverishly as the characters are devouring each other. Not so in this book. I mostly rolled my eyes and skimmed until we could get to the next scene. THAT. NEVER. HAPPENS. Now if you are a reader who skips those scenes anyway, this may not bother you, but I do enjoy those scenes and it was disappointing for me.
Overall, I think the story and characters are well-done, the pace is fast and kept the plot tight, and the world building is interesting enough to hold my attention. (It would have been handy to also have had a glossary because there were a number of acronyms and Houses, et al, where it would have been nice to refer to keep me organized of what was going on and what things were called. The author did make a notable effort to be clear with new terminology, et al, but I have the memory of a gnat, so a glossary would have been helpful for me.) I would like to go back and read the first in the trilogy, POLARIS RISING, and I’d be interested in reading the book coming in 2020 as well. I think the author’s voice and storytelling outweighs the romantic elements problems I had.