Robyn Bachar offers a complicated, well-presented future world with a lot of detail both in the physical and political aspects. We’re introduced to it gradually through action, so there’s time to absorb the history and how it impacts the present. There’s a lot going on in this book, and the cast bears some serious scars, but their choices and personal philosophies show them to be good people.
The romance seemed out of place at times, especially in the beginning, but that could be because while I read science fiction and romance, I’ve rarely read science fiction romance so the genre expectations are new to me. This issue smoothed out later for a couple of reasons: The connection between Lindana and Gabriel is strong and tangible, though it seemed overstated at times. And their complicated history becomes even more important as Gabriel is faced with the same choice that destroyed them the first time. His circumstances have changed since that long ago day when everything seemed simple, so the conclusion is not obvious. The progression of their rediscovered relationship is entertaining as circumstances both help and hinder their attempts to find a resolution to past disagreements. There is on-screen sex, though it’s light on detail, and some swearing that is appropriate both to the people and the situation.
I found the description strong overall, and could feel and smell the grit of the space station. The tech description makes it sound very functional, and some of the spy tech actually required me to reread the paragraph where it’s introduced because the idea was so new to me I didn’t understand what I was reading on the first go through. The information Gabriel brings into the story is presented in a very effective way, annoying in how it made me suspicious of everyone, but a sign of how the story absorbed my attention and how involved I’d become with the crew. The revelation of an unknown mole early on became a hardship because I didn’t want it to be any of the main crew.
My only real quibble with the whole book comes in the epilogue. I think the scene described there would have been more powerful in a live portrayal on the page rather than in a secondary character’s recollection as a mix between flashbacks and contemplation. At the same time, rather than being a wrap-up of minor threads, this epilogue is clearly a jumping off point into the next book and serves that purpose well. Also, the seeds for the referred events are there earlier to make it consistent with the story.
Ultimately, it’s a good military space opera with a romance tossed in to complicate already difficult circumstances even more. This is not a light-hearted read as there are serious loses and risks undertaken, but it goes well with my need for hope rather than having despair the driving force. I especially enjoyed the way everything felt real and tangible, almost as though I were there striving with them.
P.S. I received this ARC from the publisher in return for an honest review.