Hello people! How are you? Today I am feeling like a ninety-years old lady, aching everywhere. And I mean everywhere! And I don’t know why!! I haven’t done some strange movement, I haven’t done yoga or gym so… I don’t know why, but I am aching. But I am really happy anyway, because I am here with a review, yay! I know that lately they are scarce on here, but I am getting there again!
Thank you to NetGalley and to the Editor. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Title: Winter’s Orbit
Author: Everina Maxwell
Page Count: 432
Publication Date: February 2nd, 2021
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.
I am a shallow person, and I have to admit that it was the cover that caught my attention on NetGalley. It is true that I requested this title for some reasons (the plot was interesting, I am trying to read more sci-fi, and this seemed right up my alley) but the cover was what made me stop. And come, isn’t it a beauty? It is really eye-catching!
Aside the amazing cover, we have a lot of amazing things in this book, too. I have read a lot of amazing review for this book, and I became a bit scared because, sure, I really wanted to read it but what if now my expectations are too high? But I shouldn’t have feared! I loved this book from the start to the end.
The short explanation is that this book has a very balanced pace, it manages to alternate fast and slow, so that the story developed itself in a “long” span, I mean, usually we have books in which everything take place in a week or so, but here we get to see the time flow. And then we get some action and things happening all together, and that balance out really well.
And we have an interesting world-building too. A fascinating universe to explore. Sure, to be honest, the world-building is the weakest point of the book, because the author gave us some snippets of it, and we get to see some of it, sure (we get to see some landscape, some strange animals, because their doves and bears aren’t our doves and bears, that’s for sure!!), and we get to see some of the complicate sociological and cultural aspect (for example, this universe is an accepting one when it came to gender and sexuality. It may be a tad confusing, both for us readers and for the characters, because every world has its tradition on how people tell the world how they identify themselves, and so you have to know a bit of the culture of the other planets, but it is not a big issue, and this was fantastic!) but it is not enough. I mean, we are told that in the Empire there are a lot of different planets, and outside the Empire there is a whole Universe, who is full of life, but we don’t get to see it. And a good chunk of the story revolves around remnants. These things are important, and they are something quite complex and dangerous, but with a ton of potential for technology, but all this part is not really well explained. You know that they are there, that they are wanted by some, but the reasons for all of that is not given to us.
To be honest, this is a minor thing, because you can enjoy the story even without this information, but it is something that is there, and that could have been done a tad better.
Ok, now that all this is out of the way, let’s talk about the characters. The protagonists, Kiem and Jainan, are amazing! And the beautiful thing is, that they are quite amazing as individual, but they are even more so as a couple. I loved them from the start, Kiem is such an easy-going guy, he is portrayed like the black sheep of the Emperor family, he is one of the least favorite siblings and he is sort of the wild one. To be honest, he is not a criminal, just a rebellious boy who wants to have a good time. But he is not just that. He made me think of a quote from an Italian author, Italo Calvino, and I have founded this translation online: “Take life lightly, for lightness is not superficial, but gliding above things, not having weights on your heart“. Because he is really an easy-going guy, and he is one of those people that seem everybody’s friend, the sort that seem always in a good mood but he is also one of the most considerate people ever, and it was impossible to not love him. He is just so open, and good natured, but he is a good guy at heart, sometimes he is maybe too good for his own good, but he is adorable. He is refreshing, and he deeply cares for the people around him.
And then we have Jainan, that seems his opposite. He is always controlled, he doesn’t smile, he is always guarded and he has a very deep sense of duty. He is always appropriate, he doesn’t want to be noted, and he tried so damn hard. He is also a very troubled guy, and I would talk about this in a spoiler section in a moment. But he is also sweet. So sweet.
And sure, we have a lot of miscommunication and misunderstanding between those two. And usually I am not a big fan of this trope. I am one of those people who is constantly itching to scroll the characters and scream “talk, for heaven sake! Talk!!!” but this time I wasn’t so bothered by it, because you can see that the things are way more complicated than the usual, and you know that there is a reason for it.
And aside those amazing MCs, we have some secondary characters that are quite intriguing. I loved Bel, for example. I would have loved to see more of her (and if we ever get another book set in this world, I really hope we would get more of her around, because she was amazing!), she is strong, resourceful and loyal. And I love her relationship with Kiem. And I have to say that I liked the Emperor. And this was highly unusual for me, because I usually don’t like this kind of characters, but… she surprised me!
To me this book was an amazing romance in space. The part that really hooked me up was the relationship between Kiem and Jainan. And I guess this was mainly because I was in the right mood for this kind of romance, but this book has more to it. We have intrigues, political ones, and we have a mystery, since it seems like Taam, Jainan’s former husband, was murdered. The political part was interesting, and all the intrigues helped the pace along. We get to see them trying to find the truth, because there is not only an assassin around, but the assassination is jeopardizing a lot more than Jainan’s live. It is putting the whole Empire at risk.
And there is one more valuable thing in this book, one that I appreciated a lot, but that I would discuss after telling you that this would be a spoiler. It would not be a big one, because you know it from the start (or better, you would suspect it, because it would be confirmed after the halfway point of the book) but still, it is a spoiler and so I am telling you!
The author is really good in treating abuse and abuse’s victims in this book. Jainan relationship with Taam wasn’t a good one. Taam was abusing him. And I think that the author did an amazing job, and a delicate one, portraying it, and the consequence on Jainan. I loved the way in which Kiem react to that, and the way in which he really tries to do better for Jainan. But I really think that the author deserves a shout out for her job, because the way in which she tells us that Jainan is a victim is subtle, and authentic, and just so real. And she began well before saying outright that there was abuse. I really liked the way in which she treated it.
The Spoiler Has Ended. You can go on reading!
So, this book has a lot of hype around it, and I just have to add my voice to it, because it is well deserved! It is true that, to me, this is an amazing romance, but it has a lot more: amazing characters, action, intrigues, politic, a mystery, and fun. It is a well rounded up book, and I think everyone can find something to enjoy in there!
And what about you? Have you read it? Or do you have this one on your TBR? Let me know!!!!