Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: February 1, 2022
Series or Standalone: Starlight’s Shadow #1
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
When I saw the announcement for Jessie Mihalik’s new series last summer, I immediately had to add it to my TBR as I was a huge fan of her Consortium Rebellion series. And then I saw it was a bounty hunter, slow burn, enemies-to-lovers novel and it made its way to the list of most anticipated reads of 2022. This book DELIVERED! There are seriously not enough space opera romances and I crave more books like Hunt the Stars.
Octavia (Tavi) Zarola would do anything to keep her tight-knit bounty hunting crew together – even if it means working with their former enemy General Torran Fletcher. Torran is one of the leaders of the Valovian army, a race of people with telepathic and telekinetic abilities. When he offers Tavi’s crew an absurd amount of money to find a missing ring, Tavi knows she needs to accept. However, she’s not thrilled about the fact that Torran and his crew insist on joining the mission on her ship, especially as Torran pushes her buttons more than she’d like. As the mission progresses, they uncover a deeper plot that threatens to start another war between the humans and Valoffs. Tavi needs to decide who to trust – the quiet Valoff who has been lying to her or the human leaders who left her squad to die on the battlefield.
The romance in this book was the perfect slow build, enemies to lovers story. And it’s a true enemies to lovers as Torran and Tavi served on opposite sides in the war – she’s public enemy number to the Valovians and he’s their most famous general. The chemistry between Torran and Tavi was a simmer that slowly bubbled up to the surface the longer they spent together. I kept finding myself yelling “JUST KISS ALREADY” at them quite a lot, which you know means the sexual tension is good. Their relationship ended up being a lot more romantic than I expected, as Torran’s actions towards the end made me swoon. This book is a little light on the sexy times, and they don’t happen until the end of the book, but the build-up is well worth the wait. Also, it was refreshing that Tavi and Torran were a bit older (mid-30s) as I feel like so many romances focus on people who are barely in their twenties.
From each member of Starlight’s Shadow crew to all the Valovians in Torran’s gang, each character felt well-defined and had their own personality. While the Valovians are a little bit close off and hard to get a read on, the more time Tavi’s crew spends with them, the more you get to know them. I also genuinely loved the friendships in this book. Tavi would do anything for her crew – they have a bond that goes back to her time as their commander in the war. Hunt the Stars celebrates the power of found family and highlights how the bonds between friends are just as powerful as those formed by blood. I even loved how important Luna, a creature called a burbu which is essentially a cross between a cat and ferret, is to the crew.
This book also had A+ world-building. Mihalik manages to throw you straight into the story, but it’s incredibly easy to understand this space world and it doesn’t suffer from info dumping. I followed the politics and power dynamics very quickly and loved how she built on it and added more complexity to the world as the story evolved.
Mihalik’s writing is also fantastic. Her pacing is spot-on as she excels at balancing the action with romance, character development and world-building. The story always felt like it was moving forward, and I was wrapped up in the mystery that Tavi was hired to solve. I loved all the twists and turns and was engaged with the story until the very last page. The ending ties up the central plot nicely but leaves the door open for Mihalik to explore some larger forces at work in future books in the series.
I am so excited for book 2, Eclipse the Moon, in the Starlight’s Shadow series. We luckily don’t have to wait ages for it as it comes out in July 2022. I’ll be eagerly counting down the days until I can get my hands on it!
I highly recommend you pick up Hunt the Stars as it’s the perfect sci-fi space opera romance. Seriously, I need more books like this in my life. Hunt the Stars offers the perfect blend of action, romance, sexual tension and mystery. You won’t be disappointed if you pick it up!