4⭐️. Tropes: space romance, bodyguard, different classes
Q: what’s your favorite space romance series?
Imagine the culture that allowed the Medicis to flourish, put it in space, add in some good people determined to be better than their parents, & some kissing (v. important), & voila: you have Jessie Mihalik’s The Consortium Rebellion series.
In Chaos Reigning, the last book in the series, it’s Lady Catarina von Hasenberg’s turn at bat. The youngest member of one of the most powerful Houses on Earth, Cat’s known for being charming & not terribly bright—a persona she wears in public to survive. She’s going to use that reputation on a fact-finding mission into who kidnapped her older brother. Though Cat’s got a plan, her interfering older sister Bianca hires the mysterious Alexander Sterling as Cat’s bodyguard without her consent. Will they be able to find the answers they need without destabilizing things further in the Houses?
Mihalik crafts a story that feels fresh & exciting, that I don’t think that I’ve quite read before. She seems to delight in the big & small details that constitute the Consortium, & while some of the more technical sci-fi language isn’t my fave, I respect the heck out of it because her care & attention is how new worlds are created.
Besides the top-notch world-building, I’m here for the people. Cat’s journey to seeing herself as a leader, as capable of achieving big things & as an integral part of her House and family, is heartwarming. The bond between the von Hasenberg siblings is all the more touching because of how very mercenary their parents are.
And the relationship between Cat & Alex is slow and sweet with a dirty finish, just my style, especially since there’s a bodyguard involved. A thumbs up for nice heroes, particularly when they’re invested in their romantic counterpart’s consent, repeatedly share their feelings, & aren’t scared off by the perception of their upper-class/lower-class social divide.
As much as I liked this book, there are some aspects of Cat’s story that need more deliberation. I didn’t feel like there’s ample evidence of Cat’s incompetence/lack of intelligence at the beginning of the book--to me, events like her mother’s luncheon overtly show her skillful maneuverings.
And while Chaos Reigning isn’t marketed as a romance, the relationship between Cat & Alex mostly fits the bill--but it’s also somewhat superficial if you probe too much. There’s no real sense of conflict between them (it’s all external), & more important, no real consideration of their relationship, how their insecurities and pasts might relate to being together. Shouldn’t Cat have been more suspicious of Alex’s intentions, for example, given her background and parents?
TCR is a great way to spend some time and I recommend it to anyone who wants sci-fi meets romance meets women harnessing their power. It’s not perfect, but it is really fun, original and romantic, and I can’t wait to see what Mihalik writes next.
Chaos Reigningreleases on 05/19. Thanks to the publisher & Edelweiss for my complimentary ARC; all opinions provided are my own.