Polaris Rising (Consortium Rebellion #1) by Jessie Mihalik

PolarisSo, I just finished Polaris Rising and I can’t deny that I had a lot of fun reading this.  I will say upfront that this is a romance, in fact, first and foremost it’s a romance, BUT, it’s also a space opera that’s packed with action and tension.  Of course, I’m always rattling on about not liking romance in novels, and this book is full of all the cliches that would normally have my eyes rolling, but (another ‘but’! One more ‘but’ will be one too many) it’s undeniably sexy, there’s chemistry and the sci fi elements don’t just involve a romance taking place on board a spaceship (i.e. not just a nod to being a sci fi story but actually plenty of sci fi elements that felt well thought out).  Okay, let’s call a spade a spade – it’s a romance, call the book police and have me arrested.  I read a romance and I liked it.  I don’t even feel one ounce of guilt.  In fact, if the second book was already available I would pick it up today.

Basically, Polaris Rising is set in a futuristic world where three powerful Houses rule.  Of course, they have a very tentative sense of peace as each of them is constantly trying to outdo the other two in terms of finding new ways to be the best and therefore wield true power.  There’s a desperate scramble to find quicker ways of travelling through space, invent sophisticated cloaking devices, create invincible armies, etc, etc.  And, of course the three ruling families are a calculating and manipulative bunch of cold hearted politicians constantly scheming and marrying off their children to gain advantage.  Enter the scene Ada von Hasenberg.  Fifth child out of six for one of the three ruling families.  Ada’s father has arranged a marriage that will create an alliance with House Rockhurst.  Realistically speaking the marriage will be little more than a means of each House spying on each other so the fact that Ada and her intended (Richard) seem to despise each other is of no significance whatsoever.  Except that Ada has other ideas.  Refusing to be married off she runs from the family home, she’s not without resources and as the story begins she’s spent a couple of years evading the bounty hunters who seek to return her to the family home.  Unfortunately, her good luck can only stretch so far and in an unguarded moment she finds herself not only caught and on a flight path back to House Hasenberg but also locked in a cell with a dangerous criminal and probably the most ‘wanted’ man in the universe.  Marcus Loch.

I’m not going to really elaborate further on the plot here.  Other than it seems that Ada’s intended has a very good reason for wanting her return.  House Rockhurst scheming knows no bounds and Ada could very likely turn into a political liability if Richard catches her before she’s returned to her family.  Ada needs to think fast, she needs to know what makes this marriage so desirable and she needs to get out of Dodge and this is going to involve partnering up with her cellmate – who is equally motivated to escape.

What I liked.

I liked Ada.  She’s resourceful, intelligent and capable.  She knows her own limitations and she’s not above asking for help.  I liked the way she thinks and her ability to come up with gutsy plans.  She’s not perfect of course, having been hurt in the past she’s built a wall round herself and is very self reliant which makes it difficult for her to let others in.  Loch – well, pretty much as you would expect he’s the mind candy – judge me if you want.  He’s ripped, hench, good looking.  Not exactly the brains of the outfit but where he can’t think his way out of something he can usually use brute strength to bust his way out instead.  He’s not the main focus of the story but he is Ada’s love interest and the two definitely raise the temperature whenever they share page time.

The main Houses are totally devious, conniving backstabbing, power hungry monsters.  They rule by a none too subtle combination of politics and blackmail.  I liked this element of the story and think there’s scope for much more from this angle – particularly as this book sees a war looming on the horizon.

I loved the Star Wars feel to the main couple – comparisons to Leia and Han are inevitable (maybe even Star Wars meets Riddick) I think with her privileged upbringing and his roguish bad reputation.

I really enjoyed the action scenes.  They were fast paced and action packed.  There was a sense of danger and I didn’t just read with nonchalance expecting things to be okay for the main pov.

In terms of criticisms. Okay, I’m British which for the most part means very reserved – I barely hold my partner’s hand in public and only then to drag him into a bookshop! People, let me just say there is a lot more than hand holding going on here.  It’s not really a criticism to be honest but more I thought I’d point it out to save your blushes.  I’m not saying this makes up the majority of the book either, we’re not talking 50 Shades of rampant nookie – more like 2 Shades with a bit of sizzling in between.  I must confess that male characters who constantly use ‘darlin’ and ‘sweetheart’ get on my nerves a little bit but it’s not a massive issue.  Plus all the ‘she’s mine’ he-man/chest beating stuff can be a little bit grating.  And, what is it about romance stories that has the man ‘growling’ all the time or the woman raising one eyebrow – archly I might add.  Stop it.  But (OMG another BUT – I’m doomed) I can’t deny that at the same time as eye-rolling at some of the sexyness and overused cliches I also pretty much read this book in one sitting (well one and a half maybe – I’m not bionic and I do occasionally sleep after all).

At the end of the day did I enjoy this – oh yes.  Was it my usual type of read – nope.  Would I read more from the series – definitely.  I think Mihalik does a really good job of providing enough plot, action and sci fi elements to create a romantic story that I could enjoy and that I would like to read more of and I think at the same time she provides a romance that will appeal to readers who wouldn’t normally broach the sci fi genre.  Although, to be clear, I’m not talking hard sci-fi fans here.  I’m sure there are plot holes or elements that just wouldn’t stand too much scrutiny that I didn’t pick up on.

I received a copy through Edelweiss, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

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