Title: Winter’s Orbit
Author: Everina Maxwell
Release Date: 4/2/21 (UK), 2/2/21 (US)
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 48
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free eARC copy from Orbit and Tor Books , via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
TRIGGER WARNING: This book contains discussion and reminiscences on Domestic Violence. This may not be the book for you if you avoid such topics.
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.
This is a Sci-Fi Romance in all its glory. Its not a Sci-fi book with a romance, its not a romance with sci-fi elements. It holds both sides of its plot in perfect equilibrium. It is both a cinnamon roll of a fun, slow-burn, angst filled romance and a fast paced space opera with a mystery to solve and political machinations aplenty. I loved it.
I had not read any of the serialised original so I am coming to this as a new reader of Maxwell’s work and I really enjoyed it. I am not usually a fan of the miscommunication troupe but this was an example of it at its finest. It really held my attention and made the romance all that more sweeter in the end. I have to commend Maxwell on how the Domestic Violence subplot was handled. There was a maturity and grace to the writing of this topic that really made it resonate with emotion and the resolution was powerful.
The Space Opera side of the plot was just my cup of tea. It was fraught with political machinations of all those around our main characters, with a great mystery who-dun-it sort of feel. I couldn’t have even guessed at the outcome and that made it such fun when it all drew together.
I really liked the balance that Maxwell struck between sweet romantic moments, awkward romantic moments, tense moments of action and slow moments of realisation. It just all blended together to draw you into the story, to care for the characters and to build the universe in which the book is based. The world building itself was interesting, with enough detail to make it stand apart but also to entice you to want to learn more. I would love to read more from this universe and its history. I do feel sometimes we were missing little bits of information particularly around the political system of this universe and I would have loved more physical dyscription of the different planets, space stations etc. But that is my only major gripe.
Overall I really enjoyed this. I think its one of those books that expertly spans genres and would be liked by both Sci-Fi readers, Romance Readers and those in between.