Happy almost-bookbirthday to Jessie Mihalik. The first novel in her new series is coming out tomorrow. Jessie writes sci-fi romance, and some of you might have read her previous series, which started with Polaris Rising.
First things first, cover and synopsis.
The critically acclaimed author of Polaris Rising takes readers on an exciting journey across the galaxy with the start of her brand-new series about a female bounty hunter and the man who is her sworn enemy.
Octavia Zarola would do anything to keep her tiny, close-knit bounty hunting crew together—even if it means accepting a job from Torran Fletcher, a ruthless former general and bitter adversary. When Torran offers her enough credits to not only keep her crew afloat but also hire someone to fix her ship, Tavi knows that she can’t refuse—no matter how much she’d like to.
There’s just one catch: with so much money on the line, Torran and his crew insist on joining the hunt. Tavi reluctantly agrees because while the handsome, stoic leader pushes all of her buttons—for both anger and desire—she’s endured worse, and the massive bonus payment he’s promised for a completed job is reason enough to shut up and deal.
But when they uncover a deeper plot that threatens the delicate peace between humans and Valoffs, Tavi suspects that Torran has been using her as the impetus for a new war. With the fate of her crew balanced on a knife’s edge, Tavi must decide where her loyalties lie—with the quiet Valoff who’s been lying to her, or with the human leaders who left her squad to die on the battlefield. Because this time, her heart is on the line.
Full disclaimer: Jessie and I have been friends for years. We used to live close in North Austin area and meet for board game evenings. So I am not objective here, and as always, please take my recommendation with a grain of salt, read the sample before purchase, and remember that your mileage may vary. I really miss smiley faces. Smiley face here.
I enjoyed the book. It is sci-fi with a space opera bend. It’s also a slow burn enemies-to-lovers. There is action and sparkles, but it’s less of an “omg the Universe is on fire” and more of a comfort read. It has an ex-military heroine and a cool ex-military – from the other side – hero dude. They spar and cook pasta. There is an element of found family. It’s almost verging on slice of life at some points, and having been stressed by last year, this was just the kind of read I was looking for.
I didn’t want anyone to miss out on this release, so I asked Jessie if she would give us a snippet and she did. Please welcome Jessie to the blog.
Hello, BDH! Ilona and Gordon generously invited me over to the blog to share a snippet of Hunt the Stars with you, so many thanks to them!
Hunt the Stars is the first book in my new Starlight’s Shadow series. It’s a fun space opera romance filled with delicious enemies-to-lovers tension and plenty of found-family feels. I wrote it during the beginning of the pandemic when everyone was in lockdown, so it’s also filled with hope and joy and kindness because those are the things I needed most while I was writing.
I had hoped that the world would be in a better place by the time the book came out, but… :waves at everything:
So, if you could use a break from the news, consider spending some time with Captain Tavi and crew as they take on an impossible job from Torran Fletcher—the former Valovian general who led forces against Tavi’s team during the war.
Tavi is pretty sure that she and Torran will end up killing each other before they even make it to Torran’s home planet, especially after an explosive fight shortly after Torran arrives on her ship. That confrontation is very, very spoilery, so you’ll have to read the book to find out what they were fighting about, but this snippet is the non-spoilery fallout.
For reference, Luna is a small, adorable alien creature that looks something like a cross between an arctic fox and a housecat. She often rides around on Tavi’s shoulder, and Torran is trying to move past the fight by asking Tavi about the padded shoulder guard she made.
If you want more of Tavi and Torran, you can read the first three chapters of the book on my site, and it’s available everywhere on February 1! Happy reading!
“You wear the shoulder guard for her?” Torran asked, changing the subject.
“Yes.” The word was clipped and cold, but civility was beyond me right now. I started down the hallway toward his quarters, then stopped and spun back to him. Luna purred louder, but I was beyond soothing. “Threaten my crew again and I will invoke the hostile client clause on the spot. Are we clear?”
Torran’s eyes narrowed. When I didn’t back down, he inclined his head in agreement.
The clause was a standard part of my contract, but one I’d expanded just for this job. It gave me permission to confine them to quarters until a suitable station could be reached, and it broke the contract in such a way that I kept the initial payment.
If the Valoffs objected, a neutral arbitrator would be hired at the destination station to determine if the clause had been invoked with cause. Threatening to kill my crew once might be allowed to slide, but repeated threats were certainly cause, and Torran knew it. If the arbitrator ruled against me, then I’d be forced to pay back the initial payment and make an additional hardship payment, so invoking the clause wasn’t something I would do lightly, but I would keep my crew safe.
Torran’s eyes moved over my shoulder, and I turned to find Eli leaning against the wall, with a plas rifle held loosely in his arms. His lips were pressed into a flat line and his eyes were clear and cold. It was his killing look, and I hated that Torran had put it on his face.
“We’re fine,” I said, my voice calm and soothing. “Go help Kee with her project.”
“Who do you think sent me here?” he asked softly, his gaze still locked on Torran.
“I have the situation in hand,” I said, sinking command into the words.
Luna hopped down from my shoulder and went to sit in front of Eli. When he ignored her, she chirruped at him. He glanced down and sighed, his mask breaking. He patted his T-shirt covered shoulder. “Come on, you little menace, let’s go see what Kee is doing.” Despite his wording, his voice was soft with affection.
Luna leapt up with a happy chirp and Eli didn’t flinch, though I knew just how sharp her claws were. Eli nodded to me, gave Torran a flat look, the threat clear, and then turned and disappeared around the corner.
“Kee,” I said, subvocally.
“I’m on it. I’ll put him to work. And I’ve got eyes and ears on you.”
I led Torran to the room next to mine. Yesterday, I’d thought myself so clever, keeping my enemies close, but now I wished that I’d put him somewhere much, much farther away. Like a black hole at the edge of known space.
That might be far enough.
I opened the door. “Here’s your cabin. Your crew will be in the nearest rooms,” I said with a wave back the way we’d come.
I stepped inside and Torran followed. He took in the bright green walls without comment. The door slid closed behind him. The room felt claustrophobically small in a way it never had before, and my head throbbed.
After a second, I dropped my extra mental shields. I needed the practice, but giving myself a migraine on the first day wasn’t beneficial. And I had the sinking feeling that no amount of shielding would protect me from Torran if he ever truly wanted to do me harm.
I shoved the thought aside and focused on the here and now. “You have private facilities, so you won’t have to use the crew head. Extra linens are in the wardrobe. If you need anything else, ask me or Eli.” I glanced at the stack of linens on the bed and eyed him dubiously. “You do know how to make a bed, right?”
One corner of his mouth tipped up. The tiny grin transformed his face, softening the harsh lines of his features. He went from a beautiful, coldly distant statue to a warm, handsome man made of flesh and blood.
The change sent a jolt through my system. I ignored it.
“I can make a bed,” he confirmed. “This, at least, is not so different.”
I gave Torran the same spiel I’d given Anja. To my surprise, he didn’t balk at the assumption that his people would join in shared crew duties such as cleaning, but his eyes narrowed at the communal dinner. “Is that a problem?” I asked.
“You cook for everyone?”
“We occasionally trade off, but yes, I usually cook dinner.”
“You would cook for us, too?” he asked, something odd in his tone. His expression had turned flat again, so it was no help.
“Yes,” I said slowly, “assuming you can eat what we eat. It’s easier to prepare one big meal than a bunch of small ones. But if you would rather cook for yourselves, you can, though I would still prefer if you ate dinner at the same time as the rest of the crew. It helps build camaraderie. If you need your own food, you should ask your people to pick it up while they are out.”
“We brought food with our supplies. Most of it is human fare we picked up along the way, which you are welcome to use. If my crew gets restless and homesick, I will cook for them from the supplies we brought from Valovia.”
“You cook?” I asked in surprise.
He stiffened in offense, and his tone was biting when he said, “Leaders provide for those under their care.”
Not often enough. I kept the words locked behind my teeth. “I’m sorry. I didn’t intend the question as an insult. I figured you had people who cooked for you.”
He didn’t look any less insulted. “It is my honor to feed my crew. Are you not the same?”
“Me, personally, or humanity in general?” I asked, then waved and continued without waiting for a response. “I enjoy feeding my crew, but in general, humans have a more ambivalent attitude toward cooking. Some enjoy it, some loathe it. Is it going to cause some sort of interstellar incident if I cook for your people?”
He considered me for a long moment. “No.”
Well, that wasn’t exactly reassuring.
He turned his head toward the cargo bay, and his eyes went distant. “My crew has returned.”
A second later, the proximity warning alerted me to their presence. I wondered if they had contacted him, or if he was mentally keeping track of everyone in the area. Could he even do that? There was so much we didn’t know about Valovian abilities.
I hoped that lack of knowledge wasn’t something I would come to regret.
Book page on my site: https://www.jessiemihalik.com/book/hunt-the-stars/
There were hearts here, but I had to take them out, because the blog feed blows them up to massive size. Sorry! ~Ilona