Review: Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Release Date: Out now

Where did you get the arc: E-arc from publisher

Reviewer: Has

A space princess on the run and a notorious outlaw soldier become unlikely allies in this imaginative, sexy space opera adventure—the first in an exciting science fiction trilogy.

In the far distant future, the universe is officially ruled by the Royal Consortium, but the High Councillors, the heads of the three High Houses, wield the true power. As the fifth of six children, Ada von Hasenberg has no authority; her only value to her High House is as a pawn in a political marriage. When her father arranges for her to wed a noble from House Rockhurst, a man she neither wants nor loves, Ada seizes control of her own destiny. The spirited princess flees before the betrothal ceremony and disappears among the stars.

Ada eluded her father’s forces for two years, but now her luck has run out. To ensure she cannot escape again, the fiery princess is thrown into a prison cell with Marcus Loch. Known as the Devil of Fornax Zero, Loch is rumored to have killed his entire chain of command during the Fornax Rebellion, and the Consortium wants his head.

When the ship returning them to Earth is attacked by a battle cruiser from rival House Rockhurst, Ada realizes that if her jilted fiancé captures her, she’ll become a political prisoner and a liability to her House. Her only hope is to strike a deal with the dangerous fugitive: a fortune if he helps her escape.

But when you make a deal with an irresistibly attractive Devil, you may lose more than you bargained for . . .

*Blurb taken from Goodreads*

When I first heard of the premise of this book, all I kept thinking was gimme, gimme, gimme. I love science fiction romance and the past year or so, the bulk of my reading has been from this subgenre which I am really enjoying, and there has been some really exciting new voices that has entered this genre.  Jessie Mihalik has certainly been a notable debut of this genre and POLARIS RISING is definitely an enjoyable space opera romp.

POLARIS RISING has a similar feel to DUNE  with powerful families vying for control and power in the galaxy. The heroine, Ada Von Hasenberg, is on the run from her ambitious and icy ambitious father who has arranged an marriage to a rival family. Unfortunately, Ada is caught by bounty hunters who are delivering her to a fate that she has tried to escape but luckily for her she teams up with a fellow prisoner, Marcus Loch who also has a bounty on his head and is charged for killing his superior officers while on duty.

The first scene with Ada and Loch meeting, and then later striking a bargain to get away from the bounty hunter ship was fun, and their chemistry sizzled straight off from their first encounter. I really liked how Ada used her wits and was resourceful in figuring out how to escape even though she had to make a deal with a stranger who was seen to be dangerous, she never let her guard down. Her early interactions with Loch really sparkled and even though there was initial mistrust and suspicions, I liked how they slowly bonded over the course of the book, along with their attraction to evolve from firm allies and lovers. However, I did find the pacing of their romance was a bit rushed towards the end and I would have liked to see more of their relationship develop when they became committed lovers. But the overall plot with the conspiracy and political intrigue took centre stage and I felt that the pace of the romance was overshadowed at times and I also felt the final resolution at the end was also slightly rushed and I would have liked to see more Ada and Loch after the major event at the end of the book in a longer epilogue. 

The main plot, from Ada and Loch’s escape to their discovery of a secret from a rival house which could change the fate of their world, was engaging and fast paced. The action was tense and exciting and left me totally engrossed with the story. Ada’s quick thinking and Loch’s unexpected abilities, really drew me into the narrative which was fast paced and engrossing. 

I also liked the universe that Jessie Mihalik created, it had an epic tone of powerful families with lots of political intrigue and scheming with a sweeping intergalactic backdrop of different worlds. From the wealthy and privileged worlds of the powerful families that Ada was born into the dingy backwaters and mysterious planets. It really felt alive and colourful as well as gritty and I hope I get to see more of other worlds in later books. 

The supporting characters, such as Ada and Loch’s allies, family and old friends they pick up along the way add another layer to the story, although there was a secondary romance with two of their friends that was glossed over, and happened very suddenly. But I hope we get to see their story because they were intriguing because of their backstories. 

POLARIS RISING, is an engaging, dynamic and high octane romance with a fantastic well thought out world that was detailed and rich with vivid characters. I really enjoyed the romance between Ada and Loch along with a great cast of supporting characters that I hope to see in future books. This was a very entertaining, and satisfying debut, I am definitely looking forward to its sequel!


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