Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell
Trigger Warning: Domestic Abuse, Mind Control
Playboy Prince Kiem is doing just fine thankyouverymuch. That is, until he’s forced into an arranged marriage with recently widowed Count Jainan, who was previously married to Kiem’s cousin, Taam. But the empire of Iskat is held together by marriage treaties, and they’re going to have to make it work in order to help certify their empire to the larger galactic federation. Things aren’t going to be that easy though. Because it turns out Taam was murdered, and it could be due to a cover-up for a greater scheme…
“What about sprawls of despair?” he asked. “Do we have special furniture for that? Put that on the list: source despair furniture for living room. Did I tell you I’m getting married?”
Well this went a bit differently than I was expecting, and I um, am kinda hoping it’s going to be a series??
The Red, White and Royal Blue comp title is perfectly accurate, but there was not enough tea drinking for Ancillary Justice to fit. But you know what does fit? Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series.
Definitely got shades of the Vorkosiverse reading this one, and I loved it. Was it because of the blinding charisma of Kiem, the deep levels of reserve within Jainan (the signs are there immediately), the blisteringly competent Bel, and the other secondary characters? Along with the descriptions of the space, the way the military was integrated, how Internal Security popped up, the Emperor, and a whole bunch of other things (including gender and cultural considerations), and I loved it so much!
Also, it has the following tropes, used delightfully:
-Arranged political marriage between two kinda enemy peoples
-disaster bisexual and uptight gay
-Someone fell into a river while camping and they must now huddle together naked for warmth
Also, Kiem repeatedly puts his foot in his mouth around Jainan, and it’s so painful to watch the two constantly miscommunicate.
Anywho, lots of conversations on healthy relationships, communication and more, all wrapped into a really fun military-political-and-thoroughly-queer space opera!
“I think,” Jainan said slowly, “that it’s very possible to spend all your energy doing the right thing but still miss something obvious. I think that doesn’t make your effort meaningless.”
I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review
Winter’s Orbit releases February 2, 2021 from Tor