Sunday 8 December 2019

#CBR11 Book 82: "Aurora Blazing" by Jessie Mihalik

Page count: 400 pages
Rating: 4 stars

This is the second book in a series. While this book can be read independently, there are details to the world building and continuity that's better explained in book 1, Polaris Rising, so you may want to begin with that one.

Official book description:
Bianca von Hasenberg did her duty for High House von Hasenberg and ended up trapped in a terrible marriage. When her husband dies unexpectedly and leaves her a happy widow, she vows never to marry again. Instead, she uses her connections to save other young women. Information is power and Bianca has a network that would be the envy of the ’verse—if anyone knew about it.

After an attack, Bianca’s oldest brother, the House von Hasenberg heir, disappears from Earth without a trace. Determined to find him, Bianca leaves against orders. When she refuses to return, her father sends Ian Bishop, the director of House von Hasenberg security, to haul her home like a recalcitrant child.

Bianca leads Ian on a merry chase across the universe, but when their paths finally collide, she persuades him that they would be far more successful at finding her brother if they worked together. She will do anything to save her sibling, even if it means spending time alone on a small ship with the handsome, infuriating man who once broke her heart.

As clues lead them deep into rival House Rockhurst territory, Bianca must decide if she can trust Ian with the one piece of information that could destroy her completely. . .

I read the first book in the series back in March, but didn't get round to reviewing it until June. I read this book in October, and am forcing myself to catch up on reviews now, two months later, otherwise I won't actually manage to complete my double Cannonball this year. There was a time when I could write ten to fifteen reviews in the last days of December, but that was before I had a nearly two-year-old child. Hence taking time I should probably spend grading (but all work etc.) to do some book blogging.

This book had a slow start, but managed to hold my attention and even when I wasn't reading, I kept wanting to pick it up. That's not as common as I'd like these days, so kudos to Ms. Mihalik for managing it. Both the heroine and hero appear as minor supporting characters in the previous book, and had undeniable chemistry in the few scenes they shared there too. I think my main complaint with this book may be that it's just a little bit TOO slow burn. It would have been nice to have some indications earlier in the story that Bianca's attraction to Ian wasn't a one-sided thing. Ian keeps his emotions bottled up just that little bit too much.

Also, in slight spoiler territory, I would have liked it if Ian's deep dark secret hadn't pretty much turned out to be more or less exactly the same as Marcus' in the first book. It seemed a little bit too convenient, but didn't exactly ruin my enjoyment much, so I'll let it pass.

This is a thrilling space adventure featuring two damaged individuals who are both extremely good at what they do, and much in the same way as Marcus and Ada keep ending up in scrapes and then rescuing the other, Bianca and Ian get each other out of trouble while trying to outsmart House von Hasenberg's enemies. To be entirely honest, if you asked me for detailed specifics of the plot now that two months have passed, I'd be hard-pressed to remember much, but Mihalik writes a really entertaining blend of sci-fi, romance and action adventures, and I'm already looking forward to the concluding volume, out in May of next year.

Judging a book by its cover: I like this cover better than the previous book in the series, but that may be entirely because it's dominated by shades of red and purple, which are both favourite colours of mine. I like the choice to not show the whole of the cover model's face, making it easier for the reader to project their own idea of what the heroine looks like.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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