You know those SF stories that sweep you away? Those characters you just wanna lock in a room together and scream, “talk about your feelings!”? That was me and Winter’s Orbit. This SF space opera romance delivers all the emotional roller coasters paired with some fabulous SF world building. Keep reading this book review to see what I mean.
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: domestic abuse
When I think about my journey reading Winter’s Orbit, I am thrilled by the emotional highs and lows. Immediately I fell in love with Kiem. He’s covering up his tender heart with self-deprecating humor and relying on his history as a party boy. But underneath his scatterbrained sentences, is a caring and generous heart. While it may have taken me more time to get to know Jainan, once I did I was thoroughly sold. Winter’s Orbit delivers a stunning space opera-scape with intrigue and mystery.
My enjoyment of this book largely stems from Maxwell’s talent with characters. The internal narrative voices in this dual POV were so different, but helped me get to know them. As the mystery ramped up, I was drawn in by the intrigue, while also needing to read about Kiem and Jainan’s relationship. They’re such a pair of precious and slightly out of it dorks. Full of quirks and mannerisms, if you’re looking for a true SF romance, you have to check this out.
I’m not going to lie, I was really reading Winter’s Orbit for the relationship. At the same time, there is some fabulous detective work going on and some beautiful themes of duty versus our heart. I loved how Maxwell delves into some of the politics of alliances and exploitation. But most of my notes are just me blubbering over Kiem and Jainan and whether love can thrive in the coldest winters of unspoken silences. If you’re searching for a highly engaging and entertaining SF romance debut, please check this out.