Tuesday 11 June 2019

#CBR11 Book 24: "Polaris Rising" by Jessie Mihalik

Page count: 448 pages
Audio book length: 12hrs 41 mins
Rating: 3.5 stars

From Goodreads:
As the seventh of nine children, Ada von Hasenberg knows that her only value to House von Hasenberg is as a political pawn in an arranged marriage. But after watching two of her older sisters get auctioned off to horrible men, Ada refuses to play her part. She flees off-planet and disappears for two years.

Ada’s father, fed up with her rebellion, offers a bounty for her safe return. The universe is a big place, but mercs are everywhere, and Ada is caught. With the merc ship full, she’s forced to share a cell with Marcus Loch, the Devil of Fornax Zero. Rumor has it he murdered every commanding officer who issued orders during the Fornax Rebellion. All anyone knows for sure is that the Royal Consortium wants his head.

Ada has no trouble believing the muscled man chained in the back of her cell is a killer. But when their ship is attacked by forces from rival House Rockhurst, Ada must decide whether to trust him—because once you release the devil, you can’t put him back. And when the attack heralds the opening salvo of a much bigger war, Ada must determine where her loyalties truly lie.

As if some of the reviews I did earlier this year weren't a bit sub par, when I was trying to remember things I read one or even two months ago, my massive work load and other priorities have now resulted in there now being a nearly three month long gap between the books at the bottom of my review backlog and me actually writing about them - and as a consequence, I should probably apologise in advance for what is likely to be a thoroughly middling review.

This is by no means a bad book, there's romance, there's action, there's all manner of fanciful technology. The hero and heroine keep getting into dangerous situations, and there's a nice balance of Marcus rescuing Ada and vice versa. Ada certainly isn't a damsel in distress, but she relies more on cunning and connections than brawn to get her out of a sticky situation. Marcus is obviously not the terrible villain that the blurb makes him out to be, there's moral and understandable reasons for his insubordination and since the series, of which this is the first book, is called The Consortium Rebellion, it's safe to assume that the Consortium that controls things is something worth rebelling against. There's some perfectly enjoyable supporting characters, but I can't really say I remember much more than Ada has a friend, Marcus has some friends, there's a plot moppet and maybe his grandma? They don't feature heavily in the main plot.

Ada may be a space princess, but she's sick of her father's expectations. While she's quite happy to go off and do her own thing, she's not exactly willing to give up on her family's wealth, having squirrelled away as much as she can of her substantial personal funds and whatever else she can lay her hands on in private accounts. That comes in handy when she goes on the run.

I really do only remember snippets of the plot by now. The book starts with Ada and Marcus being thrown in the same cell on a space ship. Since the people after Ada are worse than even the big threatening looking lug she's locked up with, Ada decides she has no choice but to trust him to help her get away. As she quickly discovers, he's not at all as bad as his reputation suggests, they find one another extremely attractive (and he's totally OK waiting until she's ready to act on that mutual attraction, which takes quite a while, in fact). At some point, they steal a space ship. There's a fair amount of space travel and planet hopping.

At one point, Ada goes back home and sees her older sister, now widowed after an unhappy marriage. The sister is going to be the heroine of the next book in the series, and I'm looking forward to the book, as I liked her (and the family security chief and the mutual secret pining that has clearly been going on between them approximately forever).

I also seem to remember that Ada's father and her arranged to be married to intended are both odious to a moustache-twirling degree. Some nuance would have been nice here. As I said, it's a perfectly fine book, but I will say that I have adjusted my initial rating of this book down from 4 stars to 3.5, because I feel that if the book was really good, I would remember more than a faint outline even this long afterwards.

I can't remember anything that stood out, either positively or negatively with the audio narration, so that was probably fine too. Fine seems to be the main adjective in this review. I am happy to be able to add another sci-fi book to the "Liked" pile - it doesn't happen too often.

Judging a book by its cover: The book has a perfectly fine cover. There's not exactly any doubt that this is science fiction, with our heroine wearing a figure-hugging futuristic spacesuit, holding up a blaster and looking ready for action. Just in case you still needed convincing, there's a spaceship in the background. I like the various shades of blue, actually. It's not the most eye-catching or exciting cover, but it also doesn't make your eyes bleed.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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