Hunt the Stars
by Jessie Mahalik
Published by Harper Voyager
Book 1 in the Starlight's Shadow series
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 her sworn enemy.
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.
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. And this time, she’s put her heart on the line.
Hunt the Stars by Jessie Mihalik is the first book in her Starlight's Shadow series. It centers around Octavia, the captain of Starlight's Shadow. When a group of Valoffs approach her with a job, she wants to say no. Especially when the leader is a notorious general, and one of her sworn enemies. But when Torran offers her and her crew an unbelievable amount of cash to help him find a valuable object, she knows she can't refuse. But when Octavia and her crew uncover hidden information, and it seems like they are being used to start another war between the Valoffs and humans, she will be forced to choose where her loyalties lie. With Torran, the handsome, and surprisingly sweet general who has been hiding things from her, or with the human leaders who almost killed her crew and herself during the war.
Fun fact about me. I love Star Wars. And Star Trek. Doctor Who is one of my favorite shows. I was obsessed with the Mass Effect games (not just because they were fun to play, but because the story was interesting to me). I have never read a romance book with its setting in space. I had never actually heard of this book before until it showed up in my Bookish Box subscription box. And I liked it! The characters were well-written, and likeable. Both romantic leads were a good match in personality, and had great chemistry. The side characters were interesting. The main plot was a bit predictable, but its a well written book.
While I liked Hunt the Stars, I wasn't so enthralled with it I felt the need to pick up the next book. If romance in space if your thing, I believe you will really enjoy this book - and the rest of the series.
Eli: “Don’t fall for her rainbow hair and sunny smile. She is completely ruthless when it comes to her systems. Once, I made a tiny little mistake and she refused to talk to me for a week. A week! That’s like three lifetimes in Kee time.”
Eli’s mistake had taken out the navigation system. He hadn’t meant to, of course, but Kee had been furious—and worried. Without nav, our chance of finding our way out of deep space was basically nil. It had been a long week. Kee sniffed.
Kee: “That’s how long it took me to fix your mess. You deserved longer, but I couldn’t stand your sad eyes. And you made me apology cookies. You know I can’t resist cookies.” When Torran tried to gently move her out of the way so he could use the terminal screen, she nipped his fingers with a low hiss. He glared at her and she glared right back, then she flopped over so even more of her body covered the screen. Octavia: “Did you need something, General? Or were you just staying to ensure I didn’t eat your medic for dessert?”
A brief smile touched his mouth.
Torran: “I don’t think he would be very delicious.”
It was a clever dodge of the question that surprised a laugh out of me.
Octavia: “True enough.” He dipped his head, until his mouth was near my ear.
Torran: “And I am not having an affair with anyone.”
He slid back and slanted a heated glance at me.
Torran: “At the moment.” Torran: “Don’t shoot,”
Octavia: “What the fuck, Torran?”
I demanded in a harsh whisper.
Octavia: “What are you doing and why are we whispering?”
Torran: “I was trying to figure out how to wake you without getting shot.”
He raised an eyebrow at the pistol still locked on his body. I dropped the pistol’s muzzle toward the ground and growled,
Octavia: “Knocking is designed to solve exactly this problem.” Torran: “Leave them,”
Octavia: “Easy for you to say. You can just smush people without lifting a finger. Some of us need a little help.”
Torran hadn’t donned his helmet yet, so I caught the tiniest hint of a smile before his expression turned serious.
Torran: “I will protect you. You have my word.”
Octavia: “Thank you, but that won’t help me if someone smushes you.” Octavia: “First of all, hugs are for anyone who wants one. Second, I’m offering you comfort, not coddling. And finally, ‘no strings’ means exactly that. You don’t have to explain why you want a hug or what’s bothering you or anything else. I’m just offering one hug, freely given. Here.”
I opened my visor and blinked at the resulting darkness.
Octavia: “Now I can’t even see who I’m hugging. Could be anyone. Maybe a bear wandered by. No one knows.” Lexi: “Don’t shoot the messenger.”
Octavia: “What if I just stab the messenger, instead?” Chira chuckled.
Chira: “Does he seem like the type to do what you tell him?”
She laughed again and then shook her head when she saw that I was serious.
Chira: “A life debt is complicated, but it won’t force him to act against his will. Order him around all you want—it won’t do anything.”
Kee: “Except amuse the rest of us,” Eli grimaced.
Eli: “I just love attacking an unknown number of soldiers in a fortified underground bunker. It really livens up my day.” Torran: “You’re so gorgeous. So strong and fierce and caring. I wanted you from the moment I saw you, when your eyes spit fire and you refused to back down. I want to kiss you again. I want to kiss you everywhere, until you’re all I taste, and then I want to watch you come apart on my tongue.” He tipped my chin up until I met his eyes.
Torran: “I’m good. I am not some untried youth with no patience. I can wait for what I want.”
Octavia: “And what do you want?”
Torran: “You. When you are ready and comfortable. Until then, I will wait.” Nilo: “Yes, port is short for teleport. It’s perfectly safe.”
Octavia: “For humans?”
There was a long pause before he said,
Nilo: “Probably? I’ve ported animals with no trouble.”
Octavia: “You suck at comforting,” He brought the spoon to my lips.
Torran: “Try it,”
he urged, his voice deep and tempting.
Octavia: “There is a child in the room,”
Torran: “And I’m showing him that you are trustworthy,”
Torran replied just as softly, but his tone held a wicked edge of heat.
Torran: “Touching you is just a bonus. As is tempting you.”
He brushed the spoon against my lips.
Octavia: “If I lick it, will you go to the medbay?”
I asked, then immediately groaned at myself. Had I really just said that out loud? Torran’s expression told me that yes, I had.
Torran: “If you lick it, then I’ll go wherever you like.” Torran: “Cho wubr chil choz de cho arbu chil tavoz.”
His voice was deep and sure, and I didn’t know why my eyes were misting over, but I blinked the tears away before they could fully form.
Octavia: “What does it mean?”
Torran: “My life is mine, but my heart is yours.”