Book Review: Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

Spoiler-free review for the sci-fi mlm romance Winter’s Orbit, which came out a few weeks ago!


➸ sci-fi romance

➸  published in 2021

➸  content warnings: past abuse (emotional and physical)










While the Iskat Empire has long dominated the system through treaties and political alliances, several planets, including Thea, have begun to chafe under Iskat’s rule. When tragedy befalls Imperial Prince Taam, his Thean widower, Jainan, is rushed into an arranged marriage with Taam’s cousin, the disreputable Kiem, in a bid to keep the rising hostilities between the two worlds under control.

But when it comes to light that Prince Taam’s death may not have been an accident, and that Jainan himself may be a suspect, the unlikely pair must overcome their misgivings and learn to trust one another as they navigate the perils of the Iskat court, try to solve a murder, and prevent an interplanetary war… all while dealing with their growing feelings for each other.

Winter’s Orbit is a comforting read that I guarantee will warm the coldest of hearts! It lived up to my expectation of a light-hearted book with a sweet slow-burn romance, but it also handles serious topics well and contains an enticing plot.

The strongest part of the story is by far the two main characters, Kiem and Jainan. Opposites definitely do attract, and their contrasting personalities help create two distinct and developed POVs for us (and them) to fall in love with. They are both funny and charismatic in their own unique ways and it was a joy to see them interact with each other and the side characters, who weren’t quite as captivating. Even better though, we get to watch them slowly gain trust and start to understand each other, all while dealing with Jainan’s difficult past and their very public relationship. The book is packed with entertaining tropes, but they are approached slightly differently than usual, and so even tropes I don’t usually like (miscommunication!!) felt necessary and right for the story and characters.

The backdrop of a sci-fi world, with political intrigue and even a murder mystery, made the book even more interesting while still allowing the characters to shine through. There’s a mixture of action and more introspective moments: the pace picks up in the last two thirds of the book as Jainan and Kiem get caught up in the murder and the treaty. Although I wasn’t as invested in the mystery and plot as the romance, it was intriguing and added an extra layer to the story. At times, however, it felt like some elements of the plot and world were sacrificed for the romance. The world building we did see was fascinating, with a refreshing casually queer society and the politics of negotiating a treaty between planets. I just wish we could have explored more of the world and some wider topics which were brushed upon, like imperialism. There is a lot going on already though so I don’t blame it! Maybe in a follow up book? But I can appreciate it for what it is: a very strong debut with lovable characters, drama, mystery, space and romance!

Thanks for reading my review!


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