Polaris Rising

448p. Harper Voyager. Feb. 2019. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9780062802385.
As the fifth child of a family of six, 23-year-old Ada von Hasenberg is not particularly valuable to her wealthy family. Her marital alliance and subsequent espionage on behalf of House von Hasenberg (one of the three High Houses that wield power in this universe) are her assets in this carefully plotted novel that blends science fiction and political intrigue. Ada's strength is tempered by her vulnerability. No political plot is complete without a completely unsuitable love interest, and Marcus Loch plays that role well. Initially brought together out of self-preservation, the pair heat up the story with barely restrained sexual tension. Ada and Loch are joined by two unlikely accomplices in their effort to uncover the machinations of House Rockhurst (technology is decidedly on the side of House Rockhurst). Will their discoveries avert a war between the High Houses? The characters and romances are deliciously predictable, and the action is nonstop, though the writing gets slightly repetitive.
VERDICT A series starter for those who enjoyed Melissa Landers's "Staflight" series or Sharon Shinn's Shattered Warrior. Purchase for teens who prefer more mature themes and off-planet action.

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