Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.
In order to save the treaty between their planets, Count Jainan and Prince Kiem enter an arranged marriage to show good faith between their people. Jainan’s previous husband died in a tragic crash and Kiem is a party boy at heart. Can they get past their differences to make the marriage work, or will their match mean the end to peace in the empire.
This was an easy read with a sweet romance at the heart. Kiem is careful not to overstep his boundaries, he believes Jainan is grieving and not exactly a willing participant. They are following orders and there are bigger fish to fry. Jainan just wants to please his new husband, but he can’t do that when he’s keeping his distance.
The signing of the treaty isn’t going to be as straightforward as everyone thought. The Auditors must approve the new couple as representatives and they are not sure that Taam’s death was an accident. The secondary plot becomes a mystery, one with a deadline. Once it kicked in, I did get quite caught up in the mystery aspect.
It seems pretty clear that Jainan’s past relationship was abusive and controlling, but Kiem is oblivious. I mean, Kiem is oblivious about a lot of things, and while sometimes that came across as quite sweet, it was maybe overdone a tad. For half the book I just wanted them to bloody talk to each other, rather than acting at cross purposes.
The world building is a bit wishy washy, it’s just there as a backdrop really. The first chapter throws the basics at you, there are Iskats and Theans, a treaty is at risk and there are strange Auditors with swirly faces. Remnants are mentioned here and there as important but it’s not until the climax that what they do is made clear. A bit more foreshadowing wouldn’t have gone amiss.
The is an inclusive world, that much is clear. Gender is signified by wearing an item in a specific material rather than by what you look like or how you dress. This differs a little between different planets but the culture wasn’t delved into much. Just that Thea is considered second class to Iskat.
Winter’s Orbit started off life on AO3, and whilst it has had further editing, it does feel rough around the edges to me. It’s perfectly enjoyable for the romance, but it didn’t hit the spot for me on the science fiction side. The arranged marriage trope and prolonged misunderstandings aren’t my favourite things in a romance either. Saying that, I do think a lot of people will be happy to see this queer romance, with its sci-fi setting, hitting the shelves, old fans as well as new.
Winter’s Orbit is published by Orbit and will be available in the UK from the 2nd February 2021 in ebook and audio formats with the paperback swiftly following on the 4th. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
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