Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell
Winter’s Orbit is the award-winning debut novel by Everina Maxwell. It is a thrilling queer romantic science fiction novel with a stunning cover designed by Katie Klimowicz and created by artist Magdiel Lopez. With unique technology, subtle humor, and skillfully-wrought romantic tension, it is a well-rounded novel filled with everything a reader needs to become fully vested in the world and the characters. And the characters are so endearing.
Prince Kiem is appalled by the emperor’s decision that he marry his late cousin’s widow to reaffirm their diplomatic treaty. Kiem knew he’d be have an arranged marriage, but didn’t understand why Count Jainan – whose husband just died – should have to marry again. Or so soon. The emperor wanted the marriage to take place the very next day. He thinks it’s unfair to force the widow to remarry, and feels unfit to replace his cousin and become a treaty representative.
Count Jainan, on the other hand, understands his duty as a treaty representative, and is willing to marry whomever the emperor presented without question. Without a marriage link, there is no treaty, and when the Auditor comes in just over a month, they will not sign off on the larger Galactic treaty that protects the Empire from invasion. Jainan will do anything to ensure the treaty is signed and approved by the Auditor.
Kiem is the exact opposite of Jainan in every way – with disarming charm, a bright, funny disposition, and a history of misbehaving, while Jainan is a quiet scholar who shies away from the media and does anything he thinks will please his new husband. Kiem is instantly attracted to Jainan, but doesn’t want his new husband to do anything out of a misplaced sense of duty. Miscommunication leaves them both thinking the marriage is doomed, so much so that Jainan feels Kiem is disgusted by him. Their relationship is so gripping as they tiptoe around their feelings and refrain from unburdening their hearts.
There is more to Winter’s Orbit than romance, however. The couple stumbles upon data that suggests Jainan’s late husband was murdered, but not before he embezzled money from the project he’d been working on. Despite their rocky relationship, they work together to investigate these troubling crimes.
Winter’s Orbit is a delight to read, and I couldn’t put it down. I read it twice, listened to the audiobook version narrated by the talented Raphael Corkhill, and look forward to the next book Ocean’s Echo. It is set in the same universe as Winter’s Orbit but is not a sequel. It is set for publication on November 1, 2022.
Winter’s Orbit cover design credit: Katie Klimowicz.
Winter’s Orbit cover art credit: Magdiel Lopez.
Winter’s Orbit audiobook narrator: Raphael Corkhill.