#SciFiMonth Book Review: Aurora Blazing by Jessie Mihalik

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

Aurora Blazing by Jessie Mihalik

Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Romance, Science Fiction

Series: Book 2 of Consortium Rebellion

Publisher: Harper Voyager (October 1, 2019)

Length: 400 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

I won’t lie, these are the types of romances I can only take once in a while and in small doses, but when I do, damned if I don’t have a lot of fun with them. The first book Polaris Rising served up so much entertainment, I was beyond excited and curious to check out the next installment, a standalone follow-up featuring Ada’s sister Bianca.

Bianca von Hasenberg might not be the action hero like her little sister, but she has her own bag tricks, even if they came at a steep price. No one really knew it, but for years she was trapped in a deeply unhappy marriage. Her husband was essentially this mad scientist who experimented on her against her will, injecting her with nanotechnology that altered her brain structure and endowed her with the ability to intercept communications. This secret made Bianca a very powerful intelligence gatherer, but her health and life was never the same again, and following the death of her husband, she vowed she would never remarry.

Nevertheless, Bianca finds it impossible to deny an attraction to Ian Bishop, the head of security for House von Hasenberg, even though the two of them share a complicated romantic past. But then one day, following an attack, Bianca’s eldest bother and their house’s heir is taken by mysterious kidnappers, sending the entire place into lockdown mode. Knowing that she alone has the unique capabilities to get her brother back, Bianca defies orders and embarks upon a rescue mission to go find him. In response to her disobedience, her father sends Ian on her trail to stop her and bring her home. Bianca, however, believes that she and the security director would make a great team, if only she can look past their history and convince him that working together will mean a greater chance at saving her brother.

You’d think given the background details of her history and all that her character has gone through, Bianca would be a very different protagonist than her sister Ada, but the are actually very similar in the ways that count. Yes, while Bianca is more of a thinker than a fighter, she can still certainly crack a few skulls when the situation calls for it. And of course, as evidenced by her inclinations to break rules and take off on her own, Bianca also has the same rebel spirit as her sister. While I appreciated that her weariness and trauma had to be downplayed in order to make her character come across as stronger in this book, I think I would have liked to see them factored into her emotional depth. Anyway, I don’t want to make it sound like the two characters are the same because they’re not, but I confess I had hoped for a little more to set Bianca and Ada’s personalities and voices apart, especially since there could have been so many possible directions to take Bianca’s spymistress/master hacker/ information broker persona, which would have been way more interesting.

I guess it also didn’t help that like Ada, Bianca ends up falling for a man who’s kind of an asshole. Like Loch, Ian is on the possessive and domineering side, but because he lacks the former’s swagger and sheer force of personality, the way he comes across is much less appealing, if that makes sense. Something about Ian just did not sit right with me, and I didn’t feel like he had as much chemistry with Bianca as Ada did with Loch. To be fair though, we know relatively less about Ian in this book, since he is kept at a distance for so much of the story, and we don’t even get know the true extent of his feeling for Bianca until close to the end, at which point the romance gets dialed up from 1 to 10 in like no time flat. Don’t get me wrong, I love a slow-burn romance as much as the next reader, but I have to say the payoff here was slightly lacking, and I suspect the reason for this is because we were never given a chance to really know Ian.

But at the end of the day, I suppose what I’m trying to get at here is that in many ways, Aurora Blazing feels like a retread of a lot of the ideas in Polaris Rising (and from countless other romance novels, if I’m to be honest). That’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you enjoyed the first book. In fact, if you did, you’re pretty much guaranteed to like this sequel, which I did too, despite my gripes. My only criticisms stem from mainly two things: 1) the fact that Ian was not as great as Loch, and 2) the story had less action, and while things could have improved with the addition of more intrigue, instead the pacing just felt slower overall. Everything else—like the lighter world-building elements or the flimsier aspects of the plot—I didn’t mind at all, as it’s all sort of a given when it comes to a book like this that makes no claims to be anything but a romance first and foremost, and a sci-fi novel second. It’s why I picked it up, after all.

To sum up, I had a good time with Aurora Blazing, despite it being not as strong as the first book. But like I said, every once in a while it’s great to kick back with a book like this—an unapologetic and deliciously self-indulgent romance whose only aim is delivering a fun sexy read. I look forward to Jessie Mihalik’s next book in the Consortium Rebellion sequence, which I hear will focus on the third sister in the House von Hasenberg clan, Catarina.

More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of Polaris Rising (Book 1)

20 Comments on “#SciFiMonth Book Review: Aurora Blazing by Jessie Mihalik

  1. I still need to read the first one but I worry if the romance will get on my nerves. And to go from a mad scientist to a controlling guy isn’t really that much of a jump is it? Glad you enjoyed this one though and is it a trilogy or are there even more sisters lurking?

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  2. Sorry it wasn’t as much than the first one. I quite agree with you but I think i enjoyed it a bit more though.

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  3. Still need to get to Polaris Rising, but liked reading the review for the sequel (I somehow hadn’t realized it was a standalone!). Too bad the love interest wasn’t as good this time around, but looking forward to eventually reading at least the first book!

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    • Yep, looks like the books in this series can all be read as standalones, but the couple from the first book (the character’s sister and her beau) make an appearance in this one too, so if you want to know their story, it helps to have the background 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I do actually quite like the sound of this although I’ll have to read the first one first (even if this is a standalone I’d much rather stick to reading books in order). I just find it a bit odd that the main character went from one controlling guy to another. I do find their past intriguing though.

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    • Oh I know, that’s what I find to be the problem in a lot of romances, the heroes in them are all such jerkholes! For all we talk about the dangers of toxic masculinity, there seems to be a whole lot of swooning over them and I just can’t stand that! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I freely admit that my less-than-stellar encounter with Polaris Rising left me somewhat biased against this series, so learning that this one more or less retraces the same steps as its predecessors makes me less than sanguine about reading it. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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    • Yeah if the first book didn’t work for you, I doubt you will fare any better with this – you definitely have to go into these books knowing what to expect. This had its fair share of cheesy romance tropes, but I had fun regardless 🙂

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  6. Nice to see a review of this one! I’ve been curious since I liked the first book. And the fact that there’s a third one coming does have me kinda curious to read this. I like the setting, and I agree from the set up it seems like Bianca would have been a fabulous spymistress kinda role- too bad that didn’t quite reach its potential.

    Excellent review!

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  7. You’ve summed up your thoughts so well, awesome review! It was lovely to read. I have to admit the premise of this book had me hooked but after reading a few of your gripes I’m a little less keen. I enjoy alpha/domineering males in slow-burn but only if they’re still LIKEABLE. Ian doesn’t necessarily seem to fit this bill. I’m still going to give the book a try though 🙂 Jen

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  8. Mmm, not sure about this one. On the one hand I really want to read it and it does sound like a fun and easy read – but on the other these books can all end up feeling quite similar in terms of the romance – I might wait a little longer because I did really like the first and maybe if I put a bit more space between them I’ll enjoy them all that much more.
    Lynn 😀

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