Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Polaris Rising is that rare book with a strong romance element that I can actually manage to enjoy. A rollicking ride, comparisons to Ilona Andrews' Sweep series (without the magic element) are pretty much spot on. Ada von Hasenberg is the fifth of six children in House von Hasenberg, one of three powerful houses heading an interplanetary consortium. She was supposed to be a marriageable political pawn but Ada has very different plans. Having soaked up every bit of training whether political or engineering-based that she's been exposed to, she's spent the last two years on the run from a proposed political dynasty marriage to a former childhood friend who has grown into an odious man. Aided and abetted by her older sister Bianca, who wants to spare Ada the same unhappy marriage fates that she has endured, Ada has been so successful at eluding recovery efforts of her father Albrecht that he's increased the bounty for her return to irresistible levels. In fact, the only other person in the 'verse that commands such a high price on his head is the the mysterious Marcus Loch, Devil of Fornax Zero. Loch is a purported mass murderer who killed off his entire chain of command during the Fornax Rebellion. The question as to why he did is a mystery that Ada sorely wants to solve, because it's only natural that these two end up being captured for return to Earth and Papa von Hasenberg's clutches. It comes as no surprise that these two badass characters are not going down easily when Lord Richard Rockhurst of House Rockhurst tries to snatch them away from the van Hasenburg mercenary retrieval ship they're held on. Ada and Loch join forces to escape both Houses and along the way discover shocking secrets and snag an interesting vessel called the Polaris.
Mihalik has accomplished writing a romantic space opera that is engaging and while the instalove/lust aspect of Ada and Loch's relationship (and Rhys and Veronica's) grates on my unromantic soul (is this just a trauma bond, I ask myself?), I enjoyed other aspects of the Consortium world. The underpinnings of a future world in which wealth and power are consolidated in a few super-wealthy families who own entire planets and who don't bother themselves with the little people of the 'verse finds obvious allusions to the increasingly plutocratic world we live in. Ada bucks the trend, and her kindness and loyalty are rewarded with an increasing number of genuine friendships and a truly devoted sister in Bianca.
The first book in the Consortium Rebellion series, Polaris Rising, released February 5th 2019, will be followed up with Bianca van Hasenberg's story in Aurora Blazing due to release in October 2019. Strap in! You're undoubtedly in for more fun in Mihalik's universe.
I received a paper ARC from Harper Voyager in exchange for an honest review.
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