Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

While the Iskat Empire has long dominated the system through treaties and political alliances, several planets, including Thea, have begun to chafe under Iskat’s rule. When tragedy befalls Imperial Prince Taam, his Thean widower, Jainan, is rushed into an arranged marriage with Taam’s cousin, the disreputable Kiem, in a bid to keep the rising hostilities between the two worlds under control. But when it comes to light that Prince Taam’s death may not have been an accident, and that Jainan himself may be a suspect, the unlikely pair must overcome their misgivings and learn to trust one another as they navigate the perils of the Iskat court, try to solve a murder, and prevent an interplanetary war… all while dealing with their growing feelings for each other.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thank you to Tor Books for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review! Winter’s Orbit was released on February 2, 2021. 

I picked up Winter’s Orbit, hoping for a fun read with good romance and space shenanigans. And boy does it deliver. Times are rough these days, and although I do love complicated and gritty sci-fi, sometimes you just gotta read a gay space romance.

Parts of Winter’s Orbit do have significant weight to them. There’s a murder mystery that keeps getting deeper and deeper, conflict between the Iskat Empire and Thea, a planet under the Empire’s control through treaties, the Resolution, a political power made between ruling factions of the rest of the galaxy who have very strong interests in seeing the political situation between the Iskat Empire and Thea resolved neatly. I strongly recommend going in aware of the content warnings for domestic violence, kidnapping, and torture, if those are subjects that will trigger you.

This is a love story though and the characters are where Winter’s Orbit shines. I love a very good arranged marriage trop and Winter’s Orbit delivers. Kiem is the Emperor’s least favourite grandchild, a young man who is trying to find himself and discover what he’s good at. Jainan is a shy engineer and newly widowed. They’re both quickly rushed into an arranged marriage to save the treaty and impress the Resolution, and know absolutely nothing about each other except what the tabloids say.

If you a fan of the trope of idiots-in-love, please pick up Winter’s Orbit. It’s a fun time (sometimes a pain) watching Kiem and Jainan grow into their relationship and figure out their feelings for each other. I was swinging between (softly) throwing my Kobo at the couch in despair and grinning like a loon in delight.

Even with the dark moments, Winter’s Orbit is very much a feel-good book. It’s a standalone, but I would gladly read a sequel or any other book set in this universe. Go grab a copy if you’d like something with action and romance.

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