I love the humanism of the domestic that Jessie Mihalik brings to her sci-fi romance adventures. Can it be cozy sci-fi if there are shootouts, kidnappings, and chases? Maybe cozy sci-fi is the wrong term, it certainly falls within soft sci-fi. In addition to the romance at the center of this sci-fi adventure, there is care taking, affection, and a badass woman who cries when she is overwhelmed, but still gets the job done. The crew of Starlight’s Shadow cook real food, eat together, and watch videos together. Finding the food that makes people happy is my love language and I’m so happy to see it in space.
Eclipse the Moon is the second book in the series, and not a standalone. The now combined Human and Valovian crew are quietly investigating the plot to reignite war, not certain if it’s officially sanctioned by either or both governments. When Starlight’s Shadow docks at a major human space station, Kee wants to stay on the station to look for information and also to give herself some time away from Varro, the Valoff for whom she has unreciprocated feelings. Varro very clearly does reciprocate and Mihalik is making good use of the Idiots in Love trope. Kee thinks she is on her own until she walks into a trap and Varro saves her. When Kee realizes Varro isn’t going to leave her unprotected, she finds herself sharing a very small space with the man she was trying to get some distance from. Oops.
Kee and Varro are good, honorable people who want to take care of and support each other. The conflict between them is their cultural understandings of honor and care. They revisit the same conflict a few times before they hit the balance of compromise. But even when they aren’t fully understanding each other, the trust between them is unquestioned.
There are multiple scenes in which cookies play a role and frankly I’m glad to know that snickerdoodles and peanut butter cookies will go forth into the universe. To me the cookies mean home, kindness, generosity, and acceptance. When Kee has cookies she shares, and when their are people around her, she builds connections. It’s pretty clear that on the space station, cookies (and kindness) are a luxury, but rather than hoard them, she offers them freely. Because she is generous with what ever she has, she brings out the best in the people around her. When she is faced with a dangerous situation, she goes past her physical and emotional abilities to protect the people she has drawn into her circle.
That generosity plays out in the romance too. For his own reasons, Varro is drawn to and befuddled by Kee’s inclusivity and warmth. He will set himself an fire (not quite literally) to protect her even she he has no idea she loves him.
As the world gets harder, I want to read more science fiction/fantasy/romance that centers kindness. I also plan to make snickerdoodles later today.
CW: kidnapping, terrorist attack, torture, beating, shooting, stabbing and betrayal.
I received this as an advance reader copy from NetGalley. My opinions are freely and honestly given.