This review was first published by Booklist on February 15, 2016.
A passionate romance. A brutal murder. A conspiracy that threatens war on a galactic scale. Bonesteel’s debut sets the stakes impressively high. Commander Elena Shaw is shocked when her lover is accused of murdering one of her crew, and things only get more strange when the murder is tied to a past tragedy. The first half of the novel is a murder-mystery romance. But in the second half, the story blossoms into something much bigger, and the book really comes into its own as a work of far-future military science fiction. The mystery is compelling, and the action is nicely paced and exciting, with well-rendered and believable characters. Bonesteel’s writing is nicely nuanced and allows room for humor. Marketing for the novel compares it to Lois McMaster Bujold, which is apt. The first half might make it a good fit for mainstream mystery or romance fans who want to try sf for the first time. The strong female protagonist lends it intrinsic appeal. There are some scenes of graphic sex and violence, so be warned. Overall, this is a highly entertaining tale and a promising start to a new series.