Title: Winter’s Orbit
Author: Everina Maxwell
Genre: Science Fiction/Romance
Paring Type: M/M
Spice Rating (out of 5): ♥♥ – Mild
Prince Kiem, a famously disappointing minor royal and the Emperor’s least favorite grandchild, has been called upon to be useful for once. He’s commanded to fulfill an obligation of marriage to the representative of the Empire’s newest and most rebellious vassal planet. His future husband, Count Jainan, is a widower and murder suspect.
Neither wants to be wed, but with a conspiracy unfolding around them and the fate of the empire at stake they will have to navigate the thorns and barbs of court intrigue, the machinations of war, and the long shadows of Jainan’s past, and they’ll have to do it together.
So begins a legendary love story amid the stars.
Content Warnings: Domestic abuse of both physical and mental varieties (not between the main couple). Some violence, and a medical interrogation scene. More details are listed on the author’s website.
Why I Recommend Winter’s Orbit
I really enjoyed this book! First, it has arranged marriage. Yes, please. 🙏 This is a favorite trope of mine. Second, it has great worldbuilding. There are interesting concepts of space travel, space bureaucracy, and space politics. It’s also seen as normal that gender isn’t strictly binary and being gay is a normal thing. There are trans folk and non-binary parents.
The premise is that, in order to keep a galactic peace treaty in tact, this marriage needs to happen, but the mysterious circumstances around Jainan’s murdered first husband puts the peace in danger. When breaking the treaty could result in being cut off from the passageway that links galaxies, the stakes get higher.
This book has a lovely romantic build-up that takes its time. Kiem and Jainan tiptoe around each other while getting wrapped up in a murder investigation and as things literally explode, they grow closer. It’s not a very spicy romance; there’s a couple of sex scenes but they’re brief, almost in a fade-to-black style. This is a book to read for the interesting setting and plot, with a good romance mixed in.
A second book, Ocean’s Echo, was released this month, so it got me excited over Winter’s Orbit again. I wanted to share Winter’s Orbit first before I post about the second book. The second book is a different story, with different characters on a different planet, but it’s set in the same universe.
You can technically read either one first, but I recommend Winter’s Orbit first. There’s different lore dropped in both and some details come to light in Ocean’s Echo that make me hope for a third book. I really love the universe that’s been crafted and I want to learn more about it!
In short: Come for the gay romance in space, stay for the worldbuilding!