Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: July 12, 2022
Series or Standalone: Starlight’s Shadow #2
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
CW: Violence; torture
After loving Hunt the Stars, I could not wait to read the next book in the series! Eclipse the Moon lived up to my expectations. I immediately got sucked into the story and stayed up until 3 am two days in a row so I could finish this – I couldn’t put it down!
Kee Ildez wants to get away from the crew on Starlight’s Shadow – and a certain Valovian who she has developed an unrequited crush on – and spend some time tracking down information on a group of traitors trying to start an intergalactic war between the Valovian Empire and Federated Human Planets. However, as she disembarks for what she hopes will be a quiet few weeks to nurse a broken heart on the space station Bastion, who shows up at her door but the very person she’s hoping to avoid – Varro Runkow. She vows to keep her feelings to herself as he rebuffs her flirting. Yet, when the two of them get tied up in a rescue mission away from the rest of their crew, they need to figure out how to work together fast to protect not only themselves but thousands of other innocent lives caught up in a broader plot to start a war.
I’m not usually the biggest grump/sunshine romance fan, but the romance in this worked perfectly! The romance between Varro and Kee gave me so many heart-squeezing emotions. There is a lot of mutual pining between Varro and Kee, though Varro keeps emotions tightly guarded, but I’m a sucker for mutual pining when the other doesn’t know. Kee has a very obvious crush on Varro and thinks her feelings aren’t returned, and, ugh, it just brings so much tension and a little bit of heartache, and I love it. The chemistry between these two was on fire! This was the perfect use of forced proximity to move the romance forward! You also get a bit of a bodyguard with Varro, so if you like heroes with a protective instinct, this one is for you. Seriously, this romance was everything I wanted and more.
When it comes to the characters, I adored Kee. Usually, with sunshine/grump tropes, I find the person who is a sunshine a bit grating, but not Kee. Yes, she has a bit of an optimistic, bubbly and friendly personality, but it wasn’t in your face. As the book is told from her POV, you get to know her and see her insecurities and fears – she has so much emotional depth. I loved watching her take charge on Bastion and afterward with leading the rescue mission. She’s not the strongest or the best fighter on the Starlight’s crew, but she brings her own valuable skills to the table with her hacking. Kee shows herself to be a leader and hero by doing whatever is necessary to protect those she loves and by stepping into harm’s way for others. I loved watching her journey to discover her own strength throughout the book.
While I adored this book, I would have liked a little bit more development of Varro. I still loved this man and his relationship with Kee, but by the end of the book, I didn’t feel like I knew him all that well. He’s a bit hard to get a read on, a bit purposefully given he has to hold his emotions tight to his chest to reign his insane mental powers. But he did feel a little flat, especially compared to Kee, who was so fleshed out. However, this didn’t bother me much while reading as I still really liked Varro, especially as a partner for Kee. The Valovians have some rigid rules regarding honor in their society, and I loved watching him try to wrestle with his Valovian customs while balancing Kee’s feelings. He’s a protector through and through and would do anything for Kee, but he struggles because he cannot always protect her.
Mihalik is one of my favorite writers of sci-fi romance! Mihalik perfectly balances world-building, action and romance to keep you deeply invested in the story and on the edge of your seat. Her plotting is superb as the story moves forward at the perfect pace. Her writing brings the story to life – I can perfectly visualize the intense action scenes and all the characters. I love how this book also advances the broader series story arc forward! You will definitely need to read Hunt the Stars to understand what is going on in this story. I cannot wait to see what happens next as the politics and plots are getting more complicated between the Valovians and FHP.
As I say every time I read a Jessie Mihalik book – I need more books like this in my life! Seriously, I live for these action-packed, space adventure romances, and I would like more of them to read. I’m anxiously awaiting book three in the Starlight’s Shadow series as I cannot wait to see where Mihalik will take the series next!
Thank you to Harper Voyager/Netgalley for the ARC. All thoughts, ideas and opinions expressed in this review are my own.